How can we develop our authentic leadership? First of all by being aware of something very simple, something that our dearest friend and colleague, Matteo Rizzato often underlines quite frankly: “I have a bad and a good news – he uses to say– the bad news is that we are all naked. The goos news is that we are extremely beautiful”.
Such a statement might scare or shock some of us, but if we just come to think of it, we realize that things are exactly this way. We can take every possible effort to hide parts of ourselves, to look or be different from what we really are, but an open and sensitive look can overcome any barrier so that people can get to know our true selves.
Every time we try to hide a part of ourselves, we are wasting our energy and losing the possibility to use the talents we do not accept. We also lose the possibility of giving others a greater freedom of choice in getting to know and, possibly, appreciate us, as evidenced by Massimo Buscaglioni (founding father of the empowerment approach in Italy) in this short interview extract.
Transparency is all about being able to get in contact with oneself, with one’s own talents, inner difficulties and contradictions. This has nothing to do with that dull consistency flaunted on TV shows, nor it means being sincere at any cost, it rather implies the adoption of a curious and open way of looking at oneself. Transparency is a key ingredient for those who wish to empower their authentic leadership, it is a sound and magnetic authoritativeness based on being rather than “making believe”.
We all want to be seen. Being indifferent towards someone is a rough form of violence. It is through the look of others that we get in contact with ourselves. Running away or denying is pointless. It might be painful at times but being able to listen to the feedback from others makes us more complete and authentic. It frees us from the need to pretend and hide ourselves.
The world of social media magnifies the possibility (and need) to be transparent: it is increasingly easy to get to know others for who they are because chances for observation and contact are countless but mainly because what people learn about us does not depend on what we state to define ourselves: it rather depends on what others say about us. Reputation is the measure of our consistency and, therefore, of our authoritativeness.
Here are two more examples of transparency I find particularly interesting:
- My open notes is an instrument allowing patients to access their physicians’ and therapists’ records and be informed, with greater transparency, of their actual point of view;
- Knozen is a mobile app that allows co-workers or members of the same group or association to anonymously rate their colleagues.
Sometimes, during our self-empowerment trainings, and provided that the group we are working with is sound and open-minded, our colleagues and us take some “open staff” moments. In these moments – and without any prior discussion or exchange – we openly and frankly voice our opinion on the participants (who, according to a previously made agreement can only listen) in front of them.
How can you empower your transparency and authentic leadership?
- Welcome your ambivalences by taking an all-accomplishing look at yourself and challenging the prejudices you have about yourself
- Always ask for feedback and keep into account what others say about you. Try to manage the instinctive reaction “this is not true” and neutralize vicious cycles
- Try and experiment new possibilities, new actions, new pathways and new challenges: you will come across new “ingredients” of yourself, both positive and negative. Explore, diverge from yourself and welcome whatever you’ll find
- “Be evergreen” goes an Egyptian saying: never take anything for granted or think something is definitive, our brain is plastic and it maintains this characteristic throughout our entire life
- Communicate in a clear way: roundabout expressions might be confusing, first of all for yourself, you will lose your clarity of thought, effectiveness and promptness
- Take on your responsibilities, don’t look for excuses or alibis, accept the outcomes of your actions: these skills can give you the strength to raise again, even in the face of the most difficult situations
- But most of all, learn to love yourself: perhaps this is the first step towards an increased transparency