Authentic or Autopilot – how do you tell the difference?

brene brown leadership manifesto

What is authenticity?  How can this differ from the reverting to autopilot that some leaders adopt?

For me authenticity is that almost child-like purity that delivers a communication with no ‘add-ons’.  I remember my niece once said to my mum “you’re wrinkly” and although this may not be a huge compliment – it was totally obvious she meant it as a fact.  I could see in her demeanour, body language and behaviour that there wasn’t anything attached to it, she was being authentically honest.  She said what she saw!

There’s this great clip of Mayor of London Boris Johnson congratulating Olympic athletes, although he’s looking at notes – there are a few obvious spontaneous add-ins which are very him:


My reference to this clip is not about his politics or role – what I see in this speech is a lot of ‘him’ – his authentic sense of humour, passion and enthusiasm.

If organisations do want to develop a values based leadership approach, I do wonder how this is truly possible if their leaders aren’t willing to show their true selves, humanity and even sometimes vulnerability.

I have seen many leaders make important speeches where they seem to have a certain veneer.  They seem very disconnected with themselves and thus with whatever they are speaking about.

I wonder whether a dose of authenticity would re-connect them and us with their ability to inspire and engage us leaders.

Thoughts or feedback?  Do comment and let me know… #valuesbasedleadership


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