“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” – Lance Secretan
If you’re a fan of Mike & Mike in the Morning, you’re more than aware of the often neurotic nature of Mike Greenberg. He is admittedly a germaphobe, overly self-conscious, and generally disgusted by most people and things. This morning, he was singing the praises of a new app called Flushd that helps you locate nearby restrooms. As he and guest host Mark Schlereth started spouting off their bathroom habits, I thought, “that’s an awful lot of information for 7 o’clock in the morning.” But what struck me further was that Mike Greenberg has developed a level of authenticity because of his willingness to put himself out there.
For those of us that lead young people, authenticity is of the utmost importance. We often don’t give kids enough credit, but I know for a fact that they can see right through phoniness. I’ve seen it. They attract themselves to people who are willing to let them in and see the true person, flaws and all. I’ve worked with coaches who concern themselves with only their well-being and winning above all. They consistently stay in the role of authoritarian. They show no signs of vulnerability or general compassion. These aren’t the people who have great things said about them years later by the people they’ve lead.
I remember the football coach at my high school in the 90’s. This man was the hard-ass of all hard-asses. He was a Pittsburgh guy, no nonsense, toe the line kind of individual. Since I didn’t play football, I got to see him outside of this role. For whatever reason, he took a liking to me, and I to him. Generally, though, and especially to his team, he was rigid. Stoic. Loud. Unforgiving. One of the greatest things I ever heard about him was how he paid for a pair of cleats for a less-fortunate student out of his own pocket. He didn’t tell people about it. He stayed that hard-core football coach, but it showed those he lead that he cared, and that doing for others was important to him.
This isn’t just relegated to high school aged athletes. This is equally important in all leadership roles. Not so long ago, I worked for a guy who was incredibly arrogant and completely out for number one. He’d smile to your face and rip you apart when you walked away. He’d throw anyone under a bus to save himself. He ruled through fear. He expected people to work tirelessly, but he’d take 2 hour lunches and never pitch in when his team was buried. People saw this. People understood it. He gained no trust, and when times called for extra effort, it was rarely given. He believed he was acting as a leader does, but he had not authenticity. He also had little to no respect.
If we desire to be followed, we have to be real. Authentic. We have to let others know we’re not perfect, and there are chinks in our armor, just like anyone. Let people in to see the real you, and see if it doesn’t work to the benefit of the whole.
You don’t have to talk about going #2 on a nationally syndicated TV/radio show to prove it. Although, why not go big or go home?
Have an awesome Wednesday,