We don’t get to be an authentic leader AND a perfect one

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be “authentic leaders”

Well, there is a price for that

Let me begin with a story;

The other night my daughter (7) got out of the bath and went upstairs, I was following her up to blow dry her hair

I was a tad impatient

Ok – definitely impatient

She was taking “ages” to brush her hair ready to be dried, and “messing around” getting herself ready

I said (with a tone of irritation) “come on, hurry up, I’m going downstairs in a minute and I won’t be here to dry your hair if you take much longer”

She didn’t hurry up (note to self: irritation wasn’t actually working – was it)

And then, as I quickly finished brushing her hair in an agitated – let’s just get this done kind of way – she shouted “STOP that hurts”

“if you are going to shout at me I’m not doing your hair” I said, as I walked off

She came downstairs a bit later – clearly not happy about all this, and threw some clothes on the sofa

I threw them back at her and said “don’t start throwing your clothes around here”

She left, crying, upset

As I sat there, brooding, I knew I was fighting the truth: I was wrong


Up I went to go see her

She was in her bed and when I arrived she really didn’t want to speak to me – I just waited

“I’m wrong” I said

“I was irritated, angry, and impatient with you, and I was wrong”

“You didn’t have to throw stuff at me daddy” she said, while crying

“You’re right” I said

“perhaps we could start agin what do you think?”

“we are just about to watch some TV, you wanna join us? I can dry your hair before we begin”

She got out of bed and we went to dry her hair

As we sat on the sofa she snuggled right into me, I could tell that she genuinely appreciated me correcting my mistake

In the role of a parent in particular we can be the height of hypocrisy – demanding better behaviour than we display ourselves – shouting at them to be quiet – or saying in an angry, aggressive tone “don’t you talk to me like that” or “don’t you get angry with ME” – uhhhmmm HELLO!!

The point?

We just aren’t perfect – I have put mountains of work into my own parenting, to the point that I sacrificed growing or doing anything with my business for a period of about 18 months while I worked on and corrected some behavioural traits that would effect them for the rest of their lives – it was just too important – and I’m still getting it wrong

If there are three words that an authentic leader should be comfortable with beyond any others they are: I was wrong

It’s so easy to dominate children

And as these children grow up and go to work it’s unlikely they know how to be authentic and wrong, because it’s unlikely they were taught how

They will follow the example they were set – which often was more like do as I say not do as I do

This post is an extension to my previous post about re-defining performance management, you see, what we need is to build a system that allows people to be authentic, and real and to show MORE of themselves not less of themselves

The old ways of setting objectives and annual reviews only encourages them to present a glossy picture – ie a lie


If we want authentic leadership it starts with being wrong

Talk to me about your mistakes, what you have learnt, how you have GROWN

There is no growth in presenting glossy pictures, but we have been doing it for SO long that in most cases – that’s all we know

I have been helping to break this down, bit by bit by bit, to help people to identify and describe their performance more clearly, to give a wide and balanced view of how they perform – it is only from this place that we can truly help facilitate growth

Whether you like it or not – we are going to have to talk about the not-so-good bits – but it’s ok, because we are creating an environment where it’s safe to be wrong

When I was in corporates there was a saying: “perception is everything”

But perception isn’t the truth – is it

There isn’t much authenticity in perception

But how do we break this cycle?

If you look at my post on breaking the performance management rules (see link below) – it turns out there is a way to encourage, enhance, grow, and manage the development of authenticity – a system where perception doesn’t really work any more – a system I developed called Pathway – it may well be disconcerting for some, but it’s necessary – and it’s actually in their very best long term interest

It turns out we can’t be authentic AND perfect – because we ain’t – I’m not the perfect father, I’m not the perfect husband, or the perfect business partner – with Pathway you score points for being you, being human, for learning and growing, for authentically being honest about your shortcoming and growing from that point

Pathway is about meeting people where they are and helping them to grow from there

Boy it’s easier to be authentic, it just takes time to break down the conditioning that tells us we should be perfect, and Pathway offers us a tool to work towards that very thing

As you go about your day, I encourage you to consider using these three words: I was wrong

It’s actually very liberating

If you want to find out more about Pathway for your business get in touch

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