At the Academy of Management, there was a session on authenticity. Four scholars discussed their understanding of the topic. We spoke of authenticity as stepping up and out of role expectations; of living in accord with an anticipated future self; as moral communication, self-disclosure, an expression of the dynamic and whole self; seeing reality and owning one’s own choices; the genuine intention to serve others; and expressing self without an ego-driven purpose.
It was a creative discussion. I loved what I was learning. We opened the discussion to the audience. As I listened to their questions, I was surprised. These were mostly professors and they were there because they were interested in the topic. Yet many of them could not seem to understand what we were saying. To many, authentic meant correspondence to fact. The notion of stepping outside the ego and living with moral power was a foreign notion.
They were responding as many respond when I speak of transformational leadership. It is difficult for the conventional, transactional mind to conceive of genuine service to the common good.
Authenticity is not a conventional phenomenon. Yet it is accessible. Most people have had experiences operating outside the ego. Focusing on them is a path to understanding.
- In our unit, how often do we observe ego-driven behavior?
- What is authentic behavior?
- How could we increase our own authenticity?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?