Never Mind the Buzzwords

If you’ve read my blog before, you will know I get a little frustrated about how often we find ourselves making simple concepts difficult and generally jumping on the latest bandwagon or shiny new thing.

Lately, I am seeing more links and articles, books, books and checklists on authentic leadership. The concept has been around for a while I know, but there’s been plenty in my timeline of late.

There is plenty of information available tell you how to be an authentic leader. A quick Google search will give you a multiplicity of definitions for the term. Apparently it is all about being real, genuine, honest, open, true to yourself and your values. It is all about building trust.

One of the suggested explanations for what authentic leadership means, talks about bringing your true self to work. I like to think that I bring my real self to work every day: heck, I have a One Direction calendar up in the office. But what if my real, true, genuine self, underneath it all, authentic self looks a bit like this:

I will never get round to doing your performance reviews
I will sit on your expenses form and holiday requests for weeks
I will never get round to returning your calls or responding to your emails
I value a big fat pay cheque
I need lots of ego stroking
It’s all about me!

Because the problem with authenticity as a concept, is that it does not necessarily mean good. You be authentic and crap, all at the same time.

I’m not suggesting good leadership isn’t important. Of course it is. But we need more terminology, more checklists, more buzzwords, more versions of the same and new wine in old bottles like we need a hole in the head.

There is however one part of the dictionary definition of authentic that does feel right to me when it comes to leadership. Not a copy. Just like I’ve blogged before. Take that HR thing, that work thing, that leadership thing, and define it for yourself, where you are. Take the learning, the insights, the good examples, and make it your own.

So, can’t we just focus on making management and leadership better, and never mind the buzzwords?

And some more thoughts on the subject from Doug Shaw here.

Fear and FOMO


Recently, I’ve not been too well. A stomach thing which turned into a horrible thing.

Pain that left me prostrate on the floor, often weeping. It would come without warning, and then leave again just as fast, leaving me exhausted, unable to eat, uncomfortable. Fearful.

The Pain was one thing, but the Fear was another.

Fear of when it would return, Fear of leaving the house just in case, but mostly, Fear of its cause. I became consumed. I researched my symptoms obsessively. I cut food out of my diet, gave up dairy, wheat, spicy food. (I didn’t give up wine of course. I was scared, but I wasn’t that scared).

I constantly thought of the worst case scenario. Fear consumed me. The Fear was huge in my mind.

After much prodding, poking, scanning and pints of blood, it’s nothing serious. Just a dodgy gallbladder. It needs to come out.

And just like that, the Fear was gone.

Why? Two reasons.

The Fear went away because I had knowledge, information, power. I was able to make a plan. Ignorance feeds fears. They thrive in the gaps of knowledge and communication. Knowing nothing is scary. Information, knowledge, truth. They set you free. If the news is bad, good, indifferent or unexpected, knowledge is control. Knowledge gives you power.

This applies to the employment and organisational context too, not just the health one. Think of the employee who has heard the rumours of redundancy, closure, merger. Even if they find out that yes, their position is impacted, you can finally plan, take action, own the situation.

You can’t guarantee the future. You can’t always have good news. But you can tell your employees the truth, even if it is unpalatable. Yes, a few might exit stage left, by either scouring the job adverts or just engaging a bit less. But most of them will thank you for it, dig in with you and endure the tough times. They will recognise your authenticity.

Leaders. Take away as much fear as you can. Tell the truth, unless you have got a very good reason not to.

One final thing. The second reason that the fear has gone, is that I have booked into a hospital that has WIFI. Apparently I was the first person to ever ring up and ask this. Maybe I should reflect on that a little…. but I probably won’t!