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  • Writer's pictureNuno Salema

Authentic Leadership and the journey to Self

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

5th Principle - AUTHENTICITY

Throughout life, we play many roles. As newborns, we soon start to detach from a symbiotic relationship with our mother or primary caretaker and develop a sense of self. By then, with no or little conscious of it, we play the role of son/daughter, brother/sister and the role of the child. As we develop into adulthood, these roles multiply and vary in terms of responsibility and demands. We assume the role of man/woman, father/mother, husband/wife, friend and the professional.

We have adaptive skills that enable us to adjust and mold our appearance, posture and style of communication according to the context. We show certain aspects of ourselves when we are playing with our children and other aspects when we are in a business meeting, for example. The ability to do so is a sign of a healthy adjustment to the different environments and contributes to build and expand our personality.

However, these roles might turn against ourselves. When we over-identify with a certain role, it becomes a mask and it cuts us from our essence.

We’ve all gone through the process of needing or wanting to become someone or something which we are not. In different extent, each of us has experienced the feeling of not being enough, the need for approval of others and the adaptation of our behavior to match a certain idealized self-image. We already start this process at a very young age, adapting to our environment in the search of acceptance, nurture and love. In essence, we might end up betraying our essence for a sense of belonging.

Wether it’s a personal, a professional or a therapeutic setting, showing up in our masks or in our authenticity will determine how our relationships will unfold. Unfortunately, when we are too tied up to our personas and too fearful to showing up in our truth, the easiest way is to show up is our masks.

In 1961, the American psychotherapist Carl Rogers stated: “(…) personal change is facilitated when the psychotherapist is what he is, when in the relationship with his client he is genuine and without “front” or façade, openly being the feelings and attitudes which at that moment are flowing in him.”

Rogers realization of the importance of what he coined Congruence shook the foundations of Psychotherapy because the focus was - and mostly, still is - to arm therapists with theoretical knowledge and technical skills.

And this is the reality for most of our professional fields. What it creates is a reinforcement of the professional mask because it projects an image of the knowledgeable and skillful professional against a disempowered patient/client/listener. It leaves aside a fundamental aspect that can and should be stimulated and developed, which are our relational and communication skills.

It is challenging to apply the Principle of Authenticity in our professional and personal relationships because It requires a tremendous deal of self-work so that we might show up in our vulnerability. Authentic expression invites us to take risks, to accept mistakes as part of a learning process and to have the courage to stand up and admit the mistakes that we will make during the journey. However challenging it may be, to connect to our core qualities and expresse the essence of our being is what we will gain in return.

In our Authentic Leadership Model it is the conjugation of these five Principles: Sacred Space; Presence; Empathic Resonance, Deep Listening and Authenticity that will enable us to reach out and connect with others in such a way that the outcome will be an Encounter. In our next post, we will explore the meaning and true nature of the sixth and last Principle: Encounter.

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