Who Are You When No One Is Looking?
In 2010 Domino’s Pizza made a decision to come out and tell the truth about their Pizzas. They agreed that they tasted like cardboard.
In 1991 during a speech to the Institute of Directors, Gerald Ratner, the CEO of Ratner’s Jewellers said ‘People ask, “How can you sell this (earrings) for such a low price?” I say, “because it’s total crap.”’
In both instances the business world was shocked at the honesty. I would assume the shareholders had a ‘moment’ too. Wow! If some leaders could just fake authenticity they would be happy but, there IS no faking it. With Domino’s it’s a consumable but it was only a recipe issue, the quality is not in question, nobody was poisoned, nobody had their health compromised.
With Ratners it WAS purely a quality issue, the goods were not worth the money. Domino’s merely agreed with/confirmed what people had been saying. Ratner admitted something nobody knew for certain. Domino’s continues…Ratners went down the tube.
Authenticity is not an easy subject to tackle and wrestle to the ground. One needs to step outside of conventional thought on authenticity. It takes a lot of courage to discuss authenticity/inauthenticity as it lifts the lid on things we may keep hidden, knowingly or unknowingly. Taking part in this chat will certainly broaden our awareness of ourselves, as a Leader and as a person.
A superficial description of authentic is being real, genuine, the “real deal”, honest. Would you be as honest as Ratners or Domino’s? If your business made a monumental mistake, it’s all very well admitting this to your people but would you admit it to the world, your clients or SKYNEWS? How far does authenticity go before we have to make a stand and be, to all intents and purposes, Inauthentic because the outcome may determine that we cannot be authentic in that instance?
The definition I use of Authenticity is: Being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself out to be for yourself. The central definition is ‘who you hold yourself out to be’. It is NOT your personality, not your thoughts, not your feelings and not social protocols…it is more a DECLARATION that you make, a stand you take on yourself, a commitment to a set of values.
Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor of Leadership and author said: “After years of studying leaders and their traits, I believe that Leadership begins and ends with authenticity.”
The cold hard truth is that because of certain situations, with certain people, in some ways and at certain times we can all be Inauthentic. Because we avoid at all costs confronting our inauthenticity’s, we are consistently inauthentic about being inauthentic. Is it possible for a person to determine when they are being genuine?
Above all else, Authenticity is CENTRAL to leadership and to being a leader. Are you authentic all the time? Even when NO ONE is watching?