Leadership: Can we still avoid the scary option of authenticity? Part II

Leadership: Can we still avoid the scary option of authenticity? Part II

Read part I here.

No more heroes...

Looking at leadership, there are various perspectives from which we can consider this fascinating topic.

We could imagine somebody who can save us and go in search of that somebody. Somebody to whom to delegate responsibility. We often call that somebody leader.

But traditional hierarchical leadership seems inadequate in the face of today's complex and ambiguous world. It is more related to distributed actions of leadership into coherent networks.

So, turning the matter upside down and letting go of the concept of leader and his/her features, or  leadership as a set of behaviors and attitudes, we may discover that leadership is not about finding a “hero” who presumes to know “the path”. 

Answering questions like “what’s the meaning of my being here? Of our being here together? What’s our purpose, here?” requires a different type of leadership that is not only about certain individuals, but is increasingly about what happens within the “texture” of groups, organisations, communities, corporations…

We start to look for relationships, connectedness and empathy as useful resources.

So it seems that Leadership is more about cultivating the wisdom of groups and of “larger social systems”, as Otto Scharmer, one of the fathers of Theory U, poses it.

Cultivating a deep awareness of such “social field” develops our capacity to see and serve the future.

It reveals to us a destiny that is common to others, maybe ALL others. It makes us look at them as allies and reveals their value and limits. It makes us face fears and risks, it presents the option of a new awareness, it shows us the limits as a set of new possibilities, it embodies our creativity and reveals how compassionate we may try to be.

The “power questions”

If we had to encase this process in a word, it could be “Authenticity”: not hiding ourselves from ourselves, looking both at the richest and most sumptuous sides of our self, and the most obscure and miserable. Looking with courage and with authenticity. To consider leadership primarily as becoming authentic human beings existing in authentic relationships with each other.

It is worth letting ourselves be provoked by some “power questions”, e.g…

  • What kind of qualities do I need to nurture if I wish to experience in fullness my humanity, the sense of my being here, what I could call my Essence?
  • Where is the source of those qualities? Where do I need to start my research?
  • What is my purpose, here?
  • And while I am in this time and space of mine, where does my attention go? What do I see? And what about the rest? What can I not see yet?
  • What do I need to really and deeply be aware?
  • What is the next level of what I am doing? Of what I am?
  • What gives me energy? What takes energy away from me?
  • Who is around me during this journey? How is it that I am here with them?
  • Who or what am I serving?
  • What did I learn from them? What am I learning from them? What do I want to learn? What are we learning together? What do we want to learn together?
  • What about turning “I” into “You” and then into “We”?
  • You name it…

Sometimes, by reading these questions in depth, we may feel chills and wish we had never started.

The sequence is not important and it’s not important that you read them all, or even exactly these questions. Each of us, in a given moment and context of life, has the possibility to open a crack in our conscience. Usually this crack happens when we are asked a question which makes us think “here it is, this is the one”. A question that rings “true”, it digs, penetrates and transforms. It’s the power question. The power of transformation.

After all, it’s not necessary to give an answer to these questions. We could discover that there is no answer or there are multiple answers. I believe the most interesting part is not the answers that our mind may try to formulate. The most interesting part may be the response in “physiological” terms, the reaction of our body and senses, the emotions that are produced while we let these questions slip down deeply inside, without deception. And observe what happens when we stay there for a while, when we authorise ourselves not to run away. Not run away from something that we have no answers to. Ourselves and our vulnerability.

And then, after we have indulged in this time, we can try to reconnect with the topic of Leadership and see if we can try to observe it through the perspective of Authenticity. The questions, after all, will not be very different from the ones above. They could be exactly the same. They can be addressed to individuals, groups, organisations, societies, nations, humanity.

The perception of the world.

Perhaps, when somebody knowingly reorients their perception of somebody else's world, we find an opportunity to experiment with the responsibility of authentic leadership.

The way we perceive ourselves.

The way we perceive people, those we call “the others”.

The way we perceive the world, that we call “the reality out there”.

Discover that there is no “out there”. The “out there” is in our mind.

Discover that there is no separation.

Discover in yourself the greatness of being small and the smallness of being great.

Feel at the service of reality.

In that moment, it may happen that the word, the idea of “leadership” loses its meaning, evaporates, vanishes.

Giving space to pure Authenticity.

Can we can still avoid it?

Delfino Corti is a Senior consultant and facilitator at Impact Italia. He is a strategy and organisational development consultant, whose purpose is to enable organisations and individuals, including himself, to widen the perception skills to find and harvest the best out of any situation and context, developing an evolutional wellbeing.