5 Ways to Become a More Authentic Leader

This is a guest post by LaRae Quy. She was an FBI agent, both as a counterintelligence and undercover agent, for 25 years. She exposed foreign spies and recruited them to work for the U.S. Government. Now she explores the unknown and discovers the hidden truth via her blog, Your Best Adventure. You can find her on Twitter as @LaRaeQuy.

Leadership begins with knowing who you are and what you believe. Authenticity is the need for leaders to be themselves regardless of the situation. For this reason, it is more than self-awareness. It is the ability to share the deepest and truest part of ourselves with others.

Woman Looking at Herself in a Broken Mirror - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit, Image #12996595

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit

My undergraduate degree was in Business Management. The first thing we did was to identify successful leaders and write papers on how to mimic their behaviors. Textbooks were full of tips on how to do this and tests made certain we ingested the critical points that led to their success.

Authenticity Matters

While it’s instructive to observe and learn from others, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Successful leaders understand that the path of leadership is a journey of discovery … about themselves. We are not textbooks to be read once and then put away to gather dust. Our lives are a living testimony to change, growth, and renewed hope.

Self-awareness makes it easier to us to view our choices through a lens that brings our values into focus. If we are self-aware, we can begin to understand how well our actions align with our beliefs, values, strengths and weaknesses.

Life As An Undercover FBI Agent

Ironically, I found authenticity to be most important component while working as an undercover FBI agent. As you may guess, undercover work was about misrepresenting who I was to the targets of my investigation. I lied about my name, job, and address. I told them I was an expert in something I wasn’t and had a bogus set of credentials to back me up.

The details were no problem to fabricate with ease—and conviction. From organized drug gangs to Russian spies, I learned how to tell a lie with a straight face and get away with it. Even if the targets were suspicious of my weak background experience and limited professional expertise, I found the most convincing way to persuade them was to be honest about who I was as a person and share the deepest and truest part of myself.

My success as an undercover agent came from being myself—it attracted people to me. The only time I really ran into trouble was when I didn’t take the time to be authentic.

Being honest with others is not dependent upon the situation because an authentic person knows who they are in any given moment. They don’t flit from one belief system to another because of a fad, pressure from others, or circumstances.

Authenticity matters. Regardless of the situation, we respond to people who acknowledge the complexity of life and life’s decisions. No matter how hard I tried or how long I practiced, I ran into trouble when I pretended to have a different set of personal values. The game was up.

Life In Seminary

After I retired from the FBI, I completed a three-year graduate program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. I found that I used many of the same skills in the seminary that I developed as an FBI agent—the desire to get beneath all the layers of denial and uncover the truth about people.

The journey toward authenticity is twofold: first, discovering our personal values and beliefs, and, second, exhibiting behavior that is consistent with those same values and beliefs. We can be authentic leaders if we are committed to be being true to ourselves—regardless of the situation we are in or the people around us—so we can be real and genuine.

How You Can Look Into Yourself

Let’s take a look at five ways you can be more authentic:

  1. Discover your strengths:
    • Look inside of yourself and identify your strongest threads.
    • Reinforce them with practice and learning.
    • Carve out a role that draws upon your strengths everyday.
    • Recognize that your greatest room for growth is in the areas of your greatest strengths.
  2. Manage your weaknesses:
    • Spend time in identifying your weaknesses.
    • Do not ignore them.
    • Acknowledge that you cannot be talented in all areas.
    • Find ways to manage your weaknesses so you can free up your time to hone your strengths.
  3. Identify your personal values:
    • Rank the following values in order of importance: integrity, patience, honesty, gratitude, humility, forgiveness, compassion, perseverance, spirituality, joy, and discipline.
    • Expand the list by adding other personal values that are important to you.
    • Articulate the importance of each value to your life.
  4. Develop a strong connection between your values and your behavior:
    • Commit yourself to your personal values.
    • Stay the course regardless of obstacles.
    • Find ways to go over, under, or through the obstacles.
    • Do not go around them—instead, overcome them.
    • Remember that your behavior reflects your values.
  5. Build relationships with a diverse group of friends and associates:
    • Create genuine relationships by being authentic.
    • Authenticity builds trust and makes us more compelling and attractive leaders.
    • Be prepared for the adversaries that will be created because you’ve remained true to your values and beliefs.
    • Remember that leadership is not about being popular.
Know What You Believe and Why You Believe It

In essence, this is what it takes to be authentic: know what you believe and why you believe it. If you do, your world won’t fall apart when the unexpected shows up.

Questions: Do others perceive you as being authentic How can you be more authentic? What obstacles prevent you from being more authentic? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com/ jonstolpe

    I know that my team sees me as an authentic leader.  I think I can improve in this area by working more diligently to be more consistent in my follow-up.  I mean – I need to do more in 2012 to work alongside my team members.  This can be a challenge when other job requirements and responsibilities crowd my schedule.  If I can carve out time in my schedule to follow-up more consistently with my team members, I believe my authenticity quotient will increase.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Jon, you’re right. Life can be busy with other responsibilities. It’s great that you’ve found an important area to improve.

      Try scheduling in 5-10 minutes for a follow up. It may not be a lot of time but it will produce results.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Joe, your advice is doable because it’s specific (5-10 minutes for a follow up). Good luck (although luck really doesn’t have anything to do with what happens next), Jon, in your application. Kind of like the show ER (you saw the initial crisis but usually not the end results), we won’t know the final outcome of those 5-10 minute follow-ups unless you share them. God bless (which does have something to do with what happens next).

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Good point, Jon. Authenticity lies intertwined with time and availability!

    • http://www.facebook.com/brdgbldr Larry Galley

      Jon, I fully support your notion that your “authenticity quotient” will increase with appropriate follow up.  YOU CAN carve out the 5-10 minutes it takes.  The reality is that to be a truly effective leader, as you know, follow-up or lack thereof is a deal maker or breaker.  Provide it, you build trust and respect.  To choose not to follow up, is to spread seeds of discontent and mistrust.  We, as leaders get to choose which we want in our organization and that choice will be transmitted in our behavior to our people.

      As one of my old Commanding officer’s once said to me, over my protestations of lack of time, “…Mr. Galley, you have all the time there is, they ain’t makin’ any more and I want to be a higher priority in your scheme of things!!!”

      I have found, over my now forty-five years of professional life, that
      finding the time for appropriate follow up is far less costly than
      making time to repair or undo the damage resulting from poor or non-existent follow up.

      As one of my close friends once put it to me,”…you just have to want it bad enough!”

      • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

        Hi Larry, I think you’ve added an important component as we all strive to uncover our true potential as leaders – priorities! It takes time to dig down and mine our talents. Sometimes it’s easier to let others set our priorities for us. This is where we can go haywire – because we’re not giving ourselves the advantage of being who we really are.

        • Tim Blankenship

          True identity!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Consistency is huge when it comes to leadership. I know many of my fellow agents and I could overlook many of our supervisor’s shortcomings IF the supervisor was simply consistent. We could roll with the punches, as it were, if we knew what to expect . . . and this requires consistency, not only in our follow-up but in our communication as well. Great goal for 2012!

      • Tim Blankenship

        Yes. It’s hard to be authentic unless you are consistent….

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    One of the ways people measure our authenticity is by checking what we are “off stage”. That’s my personal experience as a teacher/coach. Time and again I have seen people evaluating what I teach with what I do right after my session!

    I believe, we got to be more intentional to “walk the talk” on a daily basis.

    Often peer pressure and popular culture create major hurdles to being more authentic. But, as followers of Christ, we can overcome these by knowing that we are marching to the beat of a different drummer!

    Thanks LaRae for the post!

    Michael, as usual, you shared another excellent guest post!

    • Jim Martin

      Joe, you’ve made a very good point.  People pay close attention to what we are like when there is no microphone or camera present.  I think many just want to know “Is this person the real deal or not?”    

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        That’s true, Jim.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        People also watch to see how we respond in crisis. I’ve found that parts of the “real” me only bubble up when life is in the pressure cooker.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      For sure, Joe! Whenever I speak, I’m reminded that the best sermon is a life well lived.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Well said, Ben!

      • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

        Ben, I love that! Was it St. Francis who said, “Preach the gospel at all times. If need be, use words.”

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Ah, one of life’s greatest mottos.

        • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

          Another great quote!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      An example of this is if we speak about giving generously people want to know that we are giving generously. Why will others follow us if we are not even following our own words? Great point Joe!

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        True, Brandon. And that’s the price of leadership!

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Great point!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Joe, I know that I’m the most authentic at home. If my actions at home with my wife line up with my actions with others, then I’m developing a consistent pattern of life and true character. You share excellent thoughts.–Tom

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Yes, if who we portray in public lines up with the person our family sees at home, then we’ve come a long way in the pursuit of authenticity.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Thanks, TNeal. It’s great that you are connecting authenticity to the most basic unit in society! Yes, home is the best place to measure one’s authenticity.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      “Off stage” fits perfectly with where I live. I live in the Bible Belt, Branson, MO, where many people stand on stage and sing a gospel song, only to walk off stage, grab a bottle of whiskey and run away with the first woman they meet. 

      The backside of showbusiness has not authenticity to it. 

      • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

        That sounds like so many people I know, too! They say one thing and then do another. I think this problem goes further than show business, unfortunately. We all tend to think of the world as a stage . . . I want others to like what I say or do. But then, when we think no one is watching, our true personality comes out and it’s not always consistent to the persona we’ve presented on stage. That’s when our lack of authenticity shows through. And our lack of leadership . . . we can’t even lead our own lives, let alone others . . .

        • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

          You’re so right LaRae. We have to get ourselves in order first. 

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Sorry to hear that story, Sundi. I agree with you. Authenticity is demanding!

      • Anonymous

        Sadly true, all too often, Sundi.  Yes, there is often a lack of authenticity, particularly in terms of religious beliefs.

        Yet, the Christian faith is all about salvation by grace.  So, when I see that sort of contradicatory behavior, I try to remind myself that every believer in Christ is a work-in-process.  None of us has yet attained the perfection we have been promised to someday possess.

        Lord knows, there have been times when my authenticity could have been questioned, too.  Yet I continue to walk, by faith, in the grace of His promises to fulfill, in me, that destiny which He pre-ordained for me, before the foundation of the world.

        Blessings!

        • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

          Very good point Joseph. However, sometimes, I have to question their faith at all. A lot of it is just “doing the job.” But there are those rare cases. 

          Thank you for the other side of the perspective. 

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Joe,

      I’m so glad you like the post – I had fun writing it!

      You hit the nail on the head when you talk about Christians feeling the need to be authentic – it’s the result of our faith journey. To us, it really means something and is a way of deepening our relationship with God. To understand ourselves is to understand the God who made us. I believe that the yearning for authenticity is very deep in most people, and that this tug comes from God.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Thanks LaRae.

        I like what you said about the “tug”! Thank God for this divine tug that propels us to take a bold stand to be the people God wants us to be.

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    It is amazing to know that
    there are articles like this on web which actually takes the meaning of life in
    new aspect. The concept” Know what you believe and why you believe it. If you
    do, your world won’t fall apart when the unexpected shows up.”
    Thanks for sharing it in such a delightful
    manner..!

     

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Poul–I’m glad you repeated LaRae’s closing remarks because I read them but I had “eyes that did not see.” I returned to the post and reread what I should have picked up the first time. Those are great words to live by.–Tom

      • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

        I’m glad you “had eyes to see!” I always say this when people start talking about important things . . . I find that many of us only believe what we’ve been told to believe without taking ownership of the idea themselves.

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Totally agree Tom.  

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, La Rae. Being honest with ourselves is one of the hardest things to do, but critical.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      What you said is true, Jeremy. Being honest with ourselves is hard sometimes. But that’s the very thing that will fetch blessings into our lives as we take appropriate corrective steps!

      • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

        Being honest with ourselves is very important, and very hard. If we shine that light into the dark corners, we have to be prepared for what we might see.

  • Jim Martin

    LaRae, your five points regarding authenticity are very good and helpful.  Thanks for a great post.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Thanks, Jim! I glad you liked the article!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    No matter how hard I tried or how long I practiced, I ran into trouble when I pretended to have a different set of personal values. The game was up.

    You were an FBI agent working undercover, like Donnie Brasco, among drug gangs and the Russians, and you got yourself into situations where your “game was up”? Then what happened? How did you get out alive?

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      I worked as an undercover agent against Russian spies, so I never felt my life was in danger since I never traveled abroad in my undercover capacity. However, I have felt “the game was up” a couple of times in my younger years and was immediately removed from the role. The biggest problem was finding a plausible excuse for my sudden absence, because while one person may have had suspicions about who I was, others may not have and I didn’t want to compromise the entire operation. In undercover operations, exit strategies are usually as important as the introduction so it was all planned out.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        I see.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Honest evaluation and accountability are two strands to authentic leadership.

    Trouble is, when do we take time to do it!?!?

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Ben, Yeah, I am with you! 100%. It’s one thing to recognize things that are important and another to prioritize the time.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I meet with a couple of guys on Thursdays to evaluate our lives and how well we live out our faith. We met yesterday and recognized we’d let other priorities slip into those meeting days in 2011. One powerful incentive for honest evaluation and accountability is agreement. This post offers a helpful road map for our conversations in 2012. Wish you well in your journey, Ben. Appreciate your honesty. It makes me think deeper and find ways to apply sound counsel. God bless.

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Great stuff, thanks for the insight!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      It must be a priority, but one that is best shared with others whom you trust. I get together once a month with two friends who help me with the accountability part of this . . . the honest evaluation takes time, too, in preparation for the accountability part of the equation, but well worth it.

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Certainly! Even writing things down to remember what your goals and accountability standards are helps. That can be hard to do.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    What an interesting life adventure, LaRae. It’s interesting, that I have a character in a new mystery that I am writing, that is a former FBI agent and being held hostage with her mom and others on a small island. She is facing death against a very strong antagonist. I am having to dig deep to explore this character and see just how far she will go to escape, and help others that are with her.

    Your statement, “I found the most convincing way to persuade them was to be honest about who I was as a person and share the deepest and truest part of myself.” really rings home. You have given me some great ideas how to play this out.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That sounds like an interesting book John. Let me know when you release it as I’d like to purchase a book!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Definitely interested in reading that!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      John, that is great! I’m glad this article helped. Keep me posted on when your book comes out!

  • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

    LaRae,
    This is GREAT stuff, thank you! I think your last point #5.4 can be applied to all your previous points. 

    “Remember that leadership is not about being popular.”

    Sometimes I do place being “liked” above being the leader that God has called me to be and it’s something that I am getting better at, but I’m not there yet.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I really enjoy being liked. This is something that I struggle with over and over.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Me too, Brandon. A lifelong struggle. “He must become greater, I must become less.”

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Being popular and being liked are two different things! I struggled when I arrested people but hoped they liked me enough to confess and get the whole thing over! Being liked is about being trusted and respected; being popular is something more artificial . . . the guy who tells the best jokes, laughs a lot, etc. They CAN be one in the same, but I think being liked is more about being authentic, whereas being popular is more social in nature . . . your thoughts?

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        LaRea,
        Good clarification, and, yes, I agree. Popular is more like “famous” in that respect. In the past I have been more interested in being liked. The problem with being liked is that you avoid confrontation so that you will be “liked.” You choose to not “rock the boat” because you want people to like you. It’s harder to lead “authentically” if your not willing to say how you truly feel, ya know?

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    This post is close to home. In the last two years I’ve bought a house, got married, started my own company, and had a kid. It’s been crazy. With all of these changes came new and challenging roles. My role as husband, father, and business owner have required that I take a seriously look at my values. In 2012, I hope to align my values to my behavior in everything that I do.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Wow Jason! You’ve down quite a bit in the last couple of years. Congratulations.

      Just focus on the important values in your life and you’ll continue to rock it out.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      It does sound like a busy time for you! Thanks for sharing – I think by identifying your 5 most important values and then structuring your time around those might be a good way to start. The best of luck!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      TWO years?! That’s significant change in a short amount of time, Jason. Good changes, but big ones. The authentic you isn’t an overachiever, is he? ;)

      • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

        You have me pegged. I have one speed.

  • Teresa Black

    Great post!  Being a leader takes a great deal of personal courage, and I love LaRae’s point that being authentic requires us to share the deepest and truest part of ourselves with others.  I believe my team and co-workers see me as authentic and their faith and trust continues to inspire me.  However, I find myself sharing different aspects of myself with others depending on the situation and the relationship.  Does that undermine my authenticity with myself and others?  

    • Jim Martin

      Teresa,  as I read the last two sentences of your comment, it occurred to me that there is something authentic about even raising the question.  Maybe what undermines our authenticity at times is when we fail to even ask such questions. Thanks.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Teresa –

      I struggle with the same question, and I don’t have an easy answer. Context and appropriate boundaries have to play a part. I am authentic in a different way with my AP English Lit & Comp class than I am with my women’s group. 

      Facebook has been a fascinating way to explore authenticity. At first, I was uncomfortable seeing people from so many different “compartments” of my life mingling together in the same space. The concept of “identity management” suddenly felt very real! 

      A student from my first year teaching, a woman from a recent retreat, my brother, and a colleague could all comment on the same status update. I could no longer control which “version” of me was seen by my different audiences. And over time, I’ve lost the desire to do so and embraced the “forced” authenticity of social networking. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/brdgbldr Larry Galley

      Teresa, you raise a brave question that candidly only you can answer and I believe that answer comes in the form of another question:

      Can you be “fully you” in each of your relationships or must you remain guarded in some situations?”

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Teresa,

      You raise such a good question! I do the very same thing, and yet I find that when I interact with people who are different from myself, I discover new aspects of my personality. It doesn’t change my fundamental values but it’s a way that I can discover new things about myself. The key is understanding what is truly from me and what is from others, and not taking on something that isn’t genuine.

    • Rachel Lance

      Great question, Teresa. I think the art of discerning what and when to share with whom and where is a skill we ought to be constantly developing as we mature. 

    • Teresa Black

      Thanks for all the feedback, and they are all great points. 

      Jim, I agree that self-evaluation is a key component of authenticity.  

      Cheri, I hear what you are saying about Facebook.  I was determined to keep that on a personal level and use LinkedIn for professional use only.  That line has been blurred somewhat, but it has also allowed me to get to better know colleagues that I don’t see on a daily basis, and has let them see some of my dry humor that doesn’t always come through in a business setting.  

      LaRae, great advice about absorbing what I learn from others to further discovery rather than to change.  

      Rachel, I absolutely agree that recognizing that line (and holding to it) is a continuous journey.

      Larry, I believe you’ve touched on the core of my question and it has given me much to think about.  

      Great insights, all!  Thanks again!

  • Anonymous

    As a teacher, demanding that the students work hard is not always popular. But, it is best for them. I’ve found they respond more willingly when it’s obvious that I’m working my butt off for them too! If they see that, they’ll usually buy in to what we’re doing.

    In that way the kids enthusiasm for, and involvement in, what we’re doing can serve as a barometer for how authentic they think I am. And, I’m happy to say, that reading has been on the rise since I began almost four years ago. 

    To get even better, I need to spend more time at the top of that list clearly identifying my strengths and weaknesses. I have a tendency to get involved in everything and spread myself too thin.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      herndonjw,
      What a great illustration! I am with you that authenticity is contagious, and this is especially true in a postmodern culture.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Herndonjw,

      The more enthusiastic we are about things, people, events, etc, the better we can see where our interests truly are. You make an excellent point about enthusiasm being a barometer for our authenticity. I appreciate your example!

      Regarding weaknesses, too few people are willing to try to identify them and make peace with them. Yet, it’s essential to understand and honor our boundaries . . .

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I do the same ‹ get involved in everything and spread myself too thin. When I do that, my strengths are diminished and my weaknesses exaggerated. Not a good result. I’m trying to learn from history and not make this mistake anymore.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for sharing your message today LaRae. I enjoyed reading it. Sounds like you’ve had some exciting times in your life!

    Being in youth ministry, I believe authenticity is a trait that is needed. The students can tell whether or not you are who you say you are. And if you fail to be authentic, they will be reluctant to follow you.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Students can tell quickly!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Yes they can. It’s always interesting to see how the students respond to those that care and those that are there for other reasons. The students respond completely different depending on the level of care the leader gives.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Very true!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Kids have a radar for picking up on people who are not authentic! They ask the most penetrating and important questions . . . as a youth minister, you have a wonderful opportunity to impart to them the importance of being authentic because in today’s society, it’s not a value that is easily recognized or appreciated.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    What an exciting life you have lived, LaRae! I appreciate your taking the time to share with us the knowledge you have gleaned. I do think one of my best qualities is my authenticity, although at times I may be too authentic.  As my husband says, “You never have to wonder what Kelly is thinking…because she’s going to tell you.”  I certainly am not one to shy away from sharing my beliefs, but have finally learned to do this with gentleness and respect.

    I enjoyed your post. Thanks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brdgbldr Larry Galley

      Beautiful!  A little 1 peter 3: 15-16 goes a long way.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Indeed Larry. That verse changed how I went about sharing beliefs. It’s a good one!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Thanks for your feedback! And congratulations on having the ability to be genuine and authentic with others.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      My husband tells me the same thing! Not always in a good way. ;)

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    When I speak at a women’s retreat, I feel free to be totally authentic. Most of the women have never met me before; thus, they have no preconceived ideas about me. The atmosphere and purpose of a retreat are conducive to “sharing the deepest and truest” parts of my story and inviting them to do the same.

    However, in most of my day-to-day situations, I find many expectations and unspoken “rules” that hinder authenticity. 

    At a women’s Bible study I used to attend, the other women seemed very comfortable responding to all discussion questions with “Christianese” phrases and no practical life examples. One night, when I shared that I was struggling with temptation, they looked at me like I was from Mars. I’m not saying that I was somehow “more authentic” or that they were “less authentic” — I finally realized that their goals were very different from mine. 

    In weekly staff meetings at my job, it’s expected that we will be happy and upbeat. Last year, I’d just returned from visiting my mother, who was declining far more rapidly from Alzheimers than I’d realized. My boss looked at me as he started the meeting and said, in a cheery upbeat voice, “So, Cheri, it must have been nice to see your mother!” I was so taken aback, I simply nodded. A professional meeting is not an appropriate place to let tears fall. But by agreeing, I lied and unintentionally perpetuated the “keep up appearances” rule. I still wonder what an “authentic” response would have been considering the context.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Cheri

      What a moving story about your mom. But you’re right, most people are not comfortable being authentic in public settings. We’re too worried about the armor we’ve got in place to protect us . . . because being authentic does mean you will be more vulnerable at times. I’m not surprised by the reaction in your bible study . . . you were at a place where you were sharing your vulnerability and yet it was not something that others appreciated. The reason? If you were going to be honest, then they would need to be as well, and this would mean letting down their hard-earned defenses.

      Unfortunately, that’s how man people live their lives. It takes courage to look at ourselves honestly, and to relate to others in an honest way. Don’t give up – it’s worth it. The true depth of your friendships with other people may be tested on how much they really open up to you . . .

      • Anonymous

        This has been a struggle for me many times over the years.  Only recently have I become aware of how much of a struggle it is for others, as well.

        We tend to treat the church as though it is a Power of Positive Thinking club, where we are all convinced that because we SAY we’re fine, we ARE fine.  It is really hard for people to be truly honest about their pain and struggles in a church setting…and yet by not being honest, we build emotional walls between us and our church family.

        Yet, we don’t want to be the downer in a worship service, or gain a reputation of always having a complaint to air.

        For me, it has become much easier to be truly authentic in a much smaller group, of like minded individuals, who have been thru similar life experiences.

        More recently, I have begun carrying that same authenticity into writing (both a book and a blog).  It has been a bit scary in some ways.  It has also been rewarding.  Yet, even in that setting I still find myself, at times, balancing my need for authenticity against the right to privacy of my family, who are less open speaking about some topics.

        • Anonymous

          After posting the above comment, I realized that the topic really has strayed from “Authenticity” to “Transparency.”

          The two are similar, but not quite the same, are they?

          Authenticity speaks of integrity of core values, expressed in word and deed.

          Transparency speaks of the level of full-disclosure of thoughts and intents.

          You can have one without the other.  However, it is difficult to be genuinely authentic without being transparent at least sometimes to some people.

          • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

            Could one say that transparency begets authenticity? In other words, if one person in a relationship is transparent and the other is not, there’s no authenticity to their relationship. It take two to tango, and to be transparent!

          • Anonymous

            That’s an interesting question, Justin!  The two are certainly related, but I have seen instances of one without the other…going both ways.

            For example, my father authenticly loves me, and I know he always has, but he has seldom been very transparent in expressing his love, which has, at times, been a source of emotional distance.  That’s authenticity without transparency.

            I have also seen instances of people choosing to follow some truly outrageous and ungodly behavior, then jusifying it by their transparency, “Well, at least I’m not being a hypocrite!”  That’s transparency without authenticity.

            I guess I would say that, for me, it is essential to pursue authenticity, always, in all circumstances.  Level of transparency is somewhat optional depending on the circumstances and the relationship.

            But you can never have true intimacy without high levels of both authenticity and transparency in that relationship.

          • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

            Joseph –

            Thank you for bringing up the question of authenticity vs. transparancy. My natural tendency to confuse the two causes me to be wary of both for fear of offending.

            After reading your comments, it occurs to me that when considering how to respond to a situation, I could ask myself, “Would I be too transparent?” and “Would I be too authentic?” 

            It is certainly possible to be “too transparent” for the situation (public vs. private) and the relationships (casual vs. intimate).  

            But “too authentic”? That may be a contradiction in terms…

            Still pondering!

          • Anonymous

            Thanks, Cheri!

            For me, the goal is to always be 100% authentic, in all circumstances.  I don’t always succeed, but that is the goal.

            Level of transparency, on the other hand, must be monitored.  Like you said, one must consider both situation and relationship.

            Of course, the trick is in figuring out how to be completely authentic, always, without being too transparent for a specific situation or relationship.

            That’s the part where I struggle…I like to think I’m getting better…other times not so sure…

            It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who struggles with this sometimes delicate balance.

            Thanks for sharing!

      • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

        LaRae –

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful, empathetic response! I’m realizing that the price of inauthenticity is too high for me; I am literally sacrificing my self. I’m not planning to turn a 180 and start “letting it all hang out,” but I am prayerfully seeking guidance to be less restrained for the sake of social norms and more authentic for the sake of honest relationships.

  • Anonymous

    Really good list.  Highlighting point 2 under #4 “stay the course regardless of obstacles”!  This is so true in many of the areas mentioned.  Stay the course!  Go Win!

    • Jim Martin

      Isn’t that true!  There is so much to be said for persistence and staying the course regardless.  Thanks!

  • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth Hill

    Wow -  Exciting life!  I do feel like I try to be authentic.  Expecting my staff to follow my lead and accept my coaching while being a chameleon myself would feel hypocritical to me.  Being passionate about my chosen profession (pricing) and standing true to my desire to do what’s best for the company doesn’t always make me the most popular kid on the block but it has helped me to be successful because others will know that I’m going to give them my honest opinion, not the popular one.

    I like how this post ties in to yesterday’s about knowing your strengths.  One of the points of Strength Finders is knowing that your weaknesses will never be your strength but you do have to find ways to overcome the deficiencies.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Great job sticking to your values, even when it does not make you popular! That is not easy but it is definitely rewarding.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      I liked yesterday’s post as well. And I love Marcus Buckingham’s books on how to identify your strengths and manage your weaknesses. Good points for all of us.

      • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth Hill

        Michael mentioned Buckingham’s book in regard to my comment yesterday, I already have it on order and can’t wait to read it.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I really liked #4. Too many times I have seen people claim to value one thing and do another (I have been guilty of this). But as you said, what you do reflects what you value. I have been working on being more authentic. I try to not just speak the right words but also carry out the right actions. I have been working on this during the normal times of life so that I will be in practice with difficult times arise.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      #4 was a great point!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Good point. What we say we value might be more of an ideal than a reality.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      The more we practice a response, the more likely we’ll rely upon it when a crisis hits us. I learned this in the FBI Academy where we spent 4 months in training. When we’re confronted with the unknown, we don’t have to think about it – we just react.

  • http://twitter.com/jrberrios28 Jose Rene Berrios

    Sometimes what holds you back from being authentic is the fear of what others think and the fear of not been accepted. Some people are more worried of other people than what God wants for their lives.

    • Jim Martin

      Jose, good point!  You have describe so well the kind of fear that is limiting and paralyzing.  Thanks.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      I agree with you, Jose! Authenticity is all about being authentic – being the real you!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That is a fine distinction! We must live to please God not others. This is not always easy and takes fine goal setting and living out our values.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Fear is why we put on our armor everyday before we go to work. We protect ourselves, and with good reason in many instances. I try to be smart about to whom I open up, but even with criminals and spies, I still found that being true and honest about who I was touched them in a way that being a fake never could.

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    Leadership begins with knowing who you are and what you believe.

    I totally agree with that statement. Thanks for sharing this awesome post!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Agreed.

  • Allison Gray

    Thanks so much for these thoughts and suggestions. I know that fear is what most challenges my commitment to authenticity as a leader in the classroom.  The good thing is that I’m starting to realize that FEAR is not just some giant obstacle that needs to be handled all at once. Instead, it can be addressed in each individual situation and overcome a little bit at a time. 

    • Jim Martin

      Allison, this seems like such a good way to address fear.  I like what you say regarding dealing with it in each individual situation, one at a time.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Small steps can lead to giant leaps . . . I agree with you. I’m a big proponent of taking small steps to achieve great things.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    When I think of one of the strengths Michael Hyatt brings to the table, it’s his willingness to share his foibles and weaknesses. That kind of authenticity has brought him a great deal of goodwill among his regular readers.

    I am scheduled to meet with a young man recently married this afternoon and I know, that whatever we discuss, I want to demonstrate how facing my weaknesses and taking responsibility for my failures really opened the door to a better relationship with my wife.

    Your advice seems timely. Thank you for the gift of wise counsel.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I’ve similar experiences with my wife. You too will be gifting that young man with some wise counsel.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        I think we all do. Marriage starts out with too many fairy tales running around in our heads then reality sets in and we prayerfully do the hard work that makes a solid relationship. If experience is any indicator, my relationship with Ellen will only get more intimate, deeper, and better with the passing years. I love where we are today. I’m excited about where we’re going in the future. Thanks, Jason, for your encouraging words.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      And that is probably the best advice you could give to a newly married. Well done.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        And one of the more difficult lessons to learn.

        Just returned from a dinner out with my wife, her friend, and the friend’s 3 small children. The exchange, despite several interruptions by squirming children, refreshed my soul. We talked openly and honestly about personal struggles–a surprising turn since that really wasn’t the expectation for the night.

        Interesting to note how authenticity showed up this evening in an unexpected way, cementing today’s post topic into my head and heart.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          AMAZING! Brought a huge smile to my face. Thanks so much for revisiting this conversation and letting me know!

  • http://twitter.com/CantUnscramble Heather Trompke

    Thank you so much for sharing. These are amazing tips and insight. God seems to be really talking to me lately about being who He made me to be, doing what He disgned for me to do. AWESOME!!!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      There’s nothing better than experiencing God’s activity in your life! I’m thrilled for you, Heather.

  • Connie Almony

    Love the term “manage” your weaknesses.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I agree. A fun contrast to yesterday’s post. Play to your strengths, manage your weaknesses. 

  • Frank Chimento

    Quote of the day, “…I found that I used many of the same skills in the seminary that I developed as an FBI agent…” The context of that was understandable and yet the thought still makes me smile/cringe in some way. Great post on authentic leadership. Michael, you really have some outstanding guest bloggers.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Right on, Frank.   I love that quote!  I grew up in a D.C. suburb and at least half of our neighbors were military or federal law enforcement.  I think even they would “smile/cringe” at the quote!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Both seminarians and FBI agents are interested at getting to the truth . . . even my fellow law enforcement agents would have to agree with me on that one!

  • Brett A. Magbee

    No, I don’t believe I have gotten to where I want to be yet. But I do believe that is the goal. I am reading Chuck Swindoll’s book on “Jesus” and find it is a perfect explanation of the authentic life. As he clearly explains we need to focus on Jesus and then the way we should think, act and even the goals we set, become more focused.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Way to go on realizing when you still have work to do! Many people believe they have already arrived and yet have not. Keep searching and focusing on Jesus.

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Become a More Authentic Leader | You can't unscramble eggs

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Love this: “We are not textbooks to be read once and then put away to gather dust. Our lives are a living testimony to change, growth, and renewed hope.” 

    Only until the last few years have I been truly authentic. I wore masks to protect people from getting close to me. If they knew the real me, they wouldn’t want to be part of my life. Or they would abandon me. 

    God had to do a mighty work in me, but now that true authenticity is in me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      I love your story!  I have a close friend who had a similar experience recently and changed her vehicle license plate to AUTHNTIK.  

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Way cool idea!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Authenticity is freeing! Although it’s oh-so-difficult at first, only after we’re truly authentic do we discover how much work it was trying to be otherwise.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      The understanding that God is doing something great in us and has a great vision for us is what really gives me the strength to look inward, and not pass up the dark corners but to go and investigate what is there. God knows anyway, so why shouldn’t I?

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      People sometimes think that they’ve uncovered an authentic part of themselves and then call it quits – they assume that they’re not changing and that God is not continuing to work in them. Life is an adventure as we continue to discover more about ourselves, and the God who made us.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Really great post. The authenticity piece is so important. I use a tool to affirm and compliment people – it only works when what you say to them resonates with them. It’s also easy to abuse affirmation by being shallow – it only works in the moment. 

    Authentic affirmation shows that you are listening and acknowledging their values, behaviour, language, etc.. In doing so your own authenticity emerges. In being authentic reciprocity matters. 

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Thanks for making that point, Alan. You’re so right! Reciprocity is so powerful, and it allows people to respond in a way that is authentic to them.

  • http://www.aussievibe.com/ Dave Adamson

    Hey Michael … not sure if you saw Brene Brown’s talk at TED, but it drills down even further in the power of authenticity and vulnerability. It’s great stuff - http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

    • Jim Martin

      Dave, I saw the same TED talk.  It was very good and really spoke to the power of vulnerability.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I did. Loved it! Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brdgbldr Larry Galley

    Hi Michael,

    This piece works wonderfully with the blog you did re: Strength Finders 2.0.  I think they compliment one another nicely and I plan to use both in concert as I apply their thoughts to my life and to those I have the privilege of mentoring.

    Thanks Much,

    Larry Galley

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I thought the same thing as I read this.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for the comment Larry. I have a feeling that was planned :)

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I believe authenticity is one of the keys to not only successful leadership, but successful life.  It factors into integrity as well.  Your story is intriguing.  Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      The link between authenticity and integrity is a great observation! Thanks for noticing. For those of us inside the FBI, the letters stand for Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’ve heard that acronym before.  I like it.

  • Nicci

    AMAZING post today!!!!!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      #win.

  • Canderson

    Great post, LaRae. Here’s a short video on what NOT to do. It was inspired by Craig Groeschel’s comment at Catalyst in 2010 when he urged Boomers to stop wearing skinny jeans and just be authentic.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the insight.  If you’d like to read a good book on authentic leadership order Bill George’s book “Authentic Leadership”.  He’s written several great books on leadership.  He can be found at http://www.billgeorge.org/page/authentic-leadership1

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks very much for the book recommendation.  So many good resources can be found on this blog and in the comments as well.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      I’ve not read this book but I will. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://twitter.com/jerburroughs Jeremy Burroughs

    Great post on authenticity. Authenticity is the biggest component in building community. And as a leader, I have learned if I am not authentic, I will not grow and my team will not grow. Authenticity is to relationships, what fertilizer is to plants, it stimulates growth. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I like the comparison! That is a great  word picture!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Authenticity gives permission to authenticity. When those we lead see us able to be our true selves — imperfections an all — they experience an exhale of grace! They then find the courage to live fully true to themselves, knowing the goal is authenticity rather than performance or perfection.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      That is a great comment! I totally agree, and the best of luck with “growing” your team!

    • Jim Martin

      Jeremy, you say so much in three sentences!  Great comment and well said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eversmiling Kingsley Izuka Uchunor

    What a great post!
    Most times, I choose to be real or otherwise depending on the situation and the people involve, as long as it’s not leading to compromising my Christian Faith and strong belief.

    But the interesting part that I think I need to work on is “Develop a strong connection between your (my) values and your (my) behavior”. This requires high level of discipline, most especially in this increasingly busy world.

    I am still a work in progress, God is yet to be through with me.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Amen.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Kingsley

      This speaks directly to “intentional” leading – and living. It’s so easy to make a list of our values and then wrap them with a bow and put them on the top shelf of a closet. It’s nice to have them as a reference point in case we need them in church settings. What many of us fail to do is link them with our daily behavior. I think that’s the tug toward Michael’s blog – unless we live every day with intention, there will never be a link between our values and our behavior.

      The fact that God is not yet through with any of us is where the adventure of life lies.

  • Denise

    I’m going to share this with all my executive clients. I often hear people say that “I can’t change that behavior because it would be inauthentic: It’s just who I am”. When in fact, in order to succeed we must connect with people. And to do that, you must make it through their context filter and respect their values. You can remain authentic and yet adapt your message to the audience. 

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Denise … You nailed it. When people say, “It’s just who I am!” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t care enough to change. It’s too hard.”

      Great observation!

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    “Being honest with others is not dependent upon the situation because an authentic person knows who they are in any given moment.” What a sentence …

    • Jim Martin

      Very true!  Such a powerful sentence with tremendous implications for life and decision making.

  • Pingback: How You Can Look Into Yourself « ways2manage

  • http://www.lauralynn.tv/ Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson

    Love the article!  As an interviewer, for me authenticity stems from an inner acceptance of who I am and a desire to elevate and celebrate those around me.  It involves squashing the drive to show them how great I am and rather embracing their moment in front of me, as a chance for them to shine.  If you are someone who puts a spotlight on the stage of the person in front of you, you will automatically become the one they attach their gaze to.  

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      It sounds as though you have a very clear understanding of your personality type and that it has helped you behave in ways that is more authentic to who you truly are. As I worked with the FBI Behavioral Science Unit, I realized how essential understanding specific personality types in helping people find deeper meaning in their life.

  • http://www.ActivateIntuition.com/ Jim Wawro

    Good summary of how to get to authenticity.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Yes, Jim! But the real question is, “Why”? What did you like about the post?

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Become a More Authentic Leader « Svenonia Blog

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only person who did a double-take on this post? 

    I opened it up intending to do a quick scan, and I completely skipped over the opening text box about a guest blog.  So, halfway thru I’m thinking, “What?  Michael Hyatt was an undercover FBI agent?  No way!  Surely this is a joke!”

    Finally I scrolled back up to see what I missed, and saw the great big text box proclaiming that this is a guest blog!

    Great post, LaRae!  I just followed you on Twitter.  Looking forward to getting acquainted.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Haha, no I didn’t do that but similar things have happened to me while reading other blogs. Thanks for sharing and making me laugh.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      HA! That’s awesome, Joseph. Of course, Michael COULD have been (or is) an undercover agent and we just don’t know about it yet ;)

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Anonymous

        I guess you never know, right?  That’s sort of the point of the “undercover” part…  ;^)

        • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

          We’ll NEVER know…. ;)

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Joseph,
      That is too funny!

  • Kare Anderson

    What a timely post for jumpstarting the new year. How inspiring that you have carried a congruent thread of what you most value in yourself  through your FNI work and onto your current mission in life. This focus on strengths echos themes raised by Marcus Buckingham. I especially valued your writing, “Carve out a role that draws upon your strengths everyday. Recognize that your greatest room for growth is in the areas of your greatest strengths.” Once we identify our greatest strengths (talents and temperament) and the flip side – our hot buttons, we can practice ways to live from our strengths more often, and thus be less reactive and more present with others and see them more fully. Then we may be more likely to bring out their best side and become higher-performing and happier in all parts of our lives.  I look forward to reading more of your blog posts, and the news-you-can-use value you share.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Kare (what a great name!) … Did this post help you identify any of your strengths more fully?

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Thanks, Kare. I like your phrase “news-you-can-use.” Great twist on words :-)

  • Kari Scare

    Do you ever find that authenticity is something people avoid? I feel like I am a very authentic person, and it feels like my honesty is something many people simply cannot handle. Still, I try to hold true to who I am and what I believe regardless of the seemingly lack of depth I find in so many people around me. Authenticity seems related to being a deep person, and I just feel like both are often lacking a great deal.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      People avoid authenticity like the plague. Why? It’s really, really hard to do well!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Our culture doesn’t put much emphasis on authenticity. If I were a cynical person I’d blame it on too much emphasis on cosmetic surgery, reality TV shows, and our fixation with celebrities – but I digress . . . authenticity implies that we must embrace our strengths and confront our weaknesses. Folks are just not that eager to shine a light on the dark corners of their soul, and yet it is essential to understand them if we’re to ever grow, let alone be authentic.

  • Kernzoie

    This reminder came at a perfect time in my life. Trying to measure up to others standards which may not be your own brings nothing but tension and people pleasing character exposure.  Thank you Michael!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      What do they say? You can please some people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time?

      People pleasing is so 2010 ;) Thanks for the note, Kernzoie

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        My dad used to always say, “10% of people will love you no matter what you do. 10% will hate you no matter what you do. Dance to the other 80%.” Not sure where he got the quote, and my percentages have varied at times. :) But at least it’s help me let go of my need to try and please everyone!

        • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

          Michele,
          If the 80% ever watched me dance they would go running from the room and join the 10% that hated it! ha.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Kernzoie,
      As a recovering “people pleaser” I completely get it. Keep up the good fight!

    • Jim Martin

      Kernzoie, such a good reminder about people pleasing.  It is a dead-end street.  I am grateful reminders about its danger.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB


    Know What You Believe and Why You Believe It

    I worked for a few people who had a problem with this. It was always clear to us that they didn’t have faith in the company or themselves. They said whatever they thought they needed to say but it lacked the conviction that comes from authenticity.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      You are so right, Jack.  There is nothing more frustrating to a group than a waffling leader who lacks conviction.  It comes across as a leadership lie. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I love it Jack. Who wants to work for someone that doesn’t believe in their business?

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Jack

      It’s so easy to let others do the thinking for us. Corporate leadership needs to further than efficient systems and models and theories . . . the problem that you’ve just addressed are company leaders who can’t lead themselves . . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    Authentic – is to have the power to be original and genuine;
    but also opposed to being false or a reproduction.  For many years I wanted to be someone else
    and then I worked for a person that saw more in me that I saw in myself; and
    they began to make me realize that for me to be true to who I am, is the best
    option at all times.

    To all those leaders, if you have someone in your reach that
    you can help to be authentic… take the time and make the investment… the
    rewards for both are endless.

    I am more authentic every day and continue to walk in that
    path of truth.  I appreciate your candor
    and wisdom. (And the job you do for our nation’s safety).

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Jane … Thanks for being vulnerable with us! I suppose that’s part of being authentic, no?

      May you become more and more the person you were created to be everyday!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      The thread of community keeps showing up in this conversation. Interesting isn’t it? Through others, we better learn both our strengths and weaknesses and how to operate authentically in both. Thanks, Jane.

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    Hi LaRae,

    Instead of talking about your post itself, I’m curious if you ever watch the show Covert Affairs, Burn Notice, (or other spy shows). How does the depiction on these shows line up with your experience as a spy?

    -Tony

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      I rarely read spy/FBI books or watch spy/FBI movies . . . either they were written by people who have no knowledge of the spy/FBI world, or they’ve been persuaded to create more drama in order to satisfy the entertainment factor. I do read everything that John LeCarre writes, primarily because he was a former British intelligence officer and he gets it right. Also, Graham Greene is a great read.

      There have been several movies/books in which either myself or my colleagues have acted as a consultant for the ostensible reason of making the production more authentic. The flair for drama and suspense usually trumps the need for accuracy.

      • Jim Martin

        LaRae, just made a note regarding John LeCarre and his works.  Thanks.  Also, thank you not only for such a valuable post but also for interacting with these comments.

      • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

        Thanks LaRae. I’ve found the drama element to be emotionally satisfying, but wrought with questions. It’s always a surprise that the agents are always able to get out alive.

        Your post about being able to lie with enough detail to be convincing was eye-opening. Even those of us who don’t run counterintelligence ops find ourselves in positions where we feel like frauds were we ever “found out”. Every day, we ask ourselves, “How did I get here? Does anyone know the real me?”

        If we can’t even convince ourselves that we are authentic, I wonder how we’ll be able to convince others.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I believe people now see me as authentic. That definitely wasn’t the case a few years ago. I lived my own double life. Lets call it “Church” and “Non-Church” life. My actions didn’t line up with what I was saying and what I was saying didn’t line up either. To be more Authentic, I believe you need to know yourself and be ok with who you are. Work on your weaknesses but enjoy your strengths.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Daren,
      You’re not alone.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      That’s a great philosophy! And I totally agree. What has always drawn me toward my faith is the desire to be more authentic, and this is the call of Christianity.

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Become a More Authentic Leader | Michael Hyatt | headlearner1

  • http://twitter.com/burlw Burl Walker

    Love the 5th point. “Build relationships with a diverse group of friends and associates:” It is so easy to insulate ourselves with people around us that all have the same worldview, lifestyle, religious and political beliefs etc. It is so very important to remember to interact and make friendships with people who are drastically different from who we are.

    • Jim Martin

      Burl, I also like the 5th point.  In fact, I have found that if I am not intentional about building such relationships that eventually I am only friends with those who are very much like me.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Diverse people can push us out of our comfort zone – in a good way. When our values or actions are challenged or put under the light of scrutiny, we are more likely to think about them more. Is this really what I believe? If so, why? Is this really what I’m about?

      If the answer is yes, it’s confirmation and strengthens our convictions. But if the answer is no or uncertain, then it may be time to dig a little deeper to find the true answer.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Burl,
      I am with you!! We, myself included, are really guilty of this in our faith communities and that point jumped off the page at me.
      Thanks for your input!

  • Ken Askew

    [Comment not related to this post] Mr. Hyatt, it seems that all means of direct contact with you are beyond my grasp, so I thought I’d leave a comment here with the hopes that it reaches you. Please don’t mistake this post as my being critical, but instead as thoughts from a long-time follower. Your content, delivery and it seems your “tribe” have evolved in a significant way over the last 2 years. And, quite frankly, I’m thinking of leaving the tribe. Bear with me. The banners and popups on your website annoy me to no end, you seem to be insulating yourself from contact that may not square with your current thinking (which has always been a rapidly moving target), and you seem to be deliberately narrowing your tribe to wanna be writers (which ironically includes me). I liked the “old” Mr. Hyatt, the Michael Hyatt, CEO better. He was much more helpful to me.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your input, Ken. I do appreciate it.

      I hear you on the pop-ups and banners. We have been experimenting a great deal. You might be right.
      With regard to insulating myself, I certainly don’t want that. However, I have recruited a team of community leaders to help me manage the volume of comments here. I came to the place where I couldn’t do that and get anything else done. However, I am still dipping in to see where I can contribute as time allows.
      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Kind regards.

  • http://wheretigerswill.wordpress.com Will Laohoo

    I’m reaching out to a lot of people to get them on board with a project I’m working on. There have been times I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I asked my boss, and she wrote an e-mail that I then looked over and sent back.

    In one of the replies I got from an e-mail like that, the person seemed a little offended, and I realized that by just using what was given to me, I had said something I wouldn’t have normally said.

    Since that experience, I’ve resolved that when I run into situations I’m not sure how to handle, part of my job is to figure that out. The only guidance I need is whether or not to go forward. I don’t want to sound like anyone else in my e-mails anymore.

    And as the post references, my results are better when I’m just myself.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for sharing a valuable lesson from your life. In order to build meaningful relationships with people, we need to be authentic.

    • Jim Martin

      Will, thanks for this.  It is helpful to hear you reflect on your effort to be authentic in your work.

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    Great post LaRae, my friends say that I’m brutally honest but they can deal with it because I’m real with everything in my life. Really enjoyed reading this post!

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Consistency is a great quality in a person, particularly a leader. It lets people know where they stand, no matter the situation. Congratulations on having accomplished this in your honesty – always the best policy!

  • Pingback: Article: 5 Ways to Become a More Authentic Leader | B2B Sales and Sales Management

  • http://twitter.com/KevinRussell77 Kevin Russell

    I have always wanted to ask Michael Hyatt this question: 

    Can you support with Biblical evidence, the often recommended “maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses” leadership philosophy? I have always struggled to adopt and recommend this popular leadership principle because I do not see Biblical examples or teaching that affirms it. Instead, I see examples throughout the Bible that propose the opposite. Just a few examples would be Moses, David, Peter, and Paul. Paul makes this point in 2 Cor 11:30 and 2 Cor 12:9-10, saying in summary “I will boast of the things that show my weakness, for Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness, for when I am weak, I am strong.” It seems the Biblical Truth is, when we are at the end of ourselves (our own strengths), this is when God begins to be glorified. If this is true, how do we reconcile it with the leadership principle, max your strengths and min your weakness?I have been greatly blessed by Michael’s leadership and online mentoring from afar. This is the one question I have always wanted to ask in regards to his leadership philosophy.Thanks for all you do! Kevin

  • Jackiegillam

    Thank you for your great insight.  I believe you need to keep your eye on your goals and not let friends squander your time.

    • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

      Hi Jackie, keeping an eye on our goals – great way to start off the new year!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MelissaMashburnMelsWorld Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn

    I love that word…Authentic…there is so much more to it than meets the eye. People can tell when you are real and authentic and as a leader this is extremely important. If there is one thing I would want people to say about me is that I am “real”…what you see is what you get in life, ministry, speaking, writing and in my family.

    Great post!

  • Pingback: threads collected | Learning & growing

  • Pingback: Change How You Are, Not Who You Are | Brilliance Inc

  • Pingback: Change How You Are, Not Who You Are | speakfearlessly.net

  • Aanuoluwapo Awosanmi

    Wow! Word for the moment… thanks

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Become A More Authentic Leader | LaRae's Blog

  • http://twitter.com/janetcallaway Janet Callaway

    LaRae, aloha. Interesting what you had to say that your undercover story held up, even if you were “weak” in some area, as long as you were true to yourself. 

    These days we always hear that people buy from people they “know, like and trust” which is why people “bought” your undercover stories. When people speak and act at odds with their beliefs, even if we don’t catch them in a lie, there is something about them that makes us feel uncomfortable.
    Once we feel uncomfortable, we start to look for more flaws in the person. Conversely, if we feel good about someone, we will overlook obvious flaws and look for ways to make them better or conform to our beliefs in them.

    For me, whenever someone is not consistent in what they say and do, it is a red flag for me.

    LaRae, it’s easier to be me than someone else. If people don’t like the me they meet, then we were not meant to be a part of each other lives.  The surefire recipe for failure and unhappiness is attempting to be something you’re not and trying to please everyone.

    Good to see you again, my friend. Until the next time, aloha. Janet

  • http://akosfintor.net/ Akos Fintor

    The trending topic of “self branding” makes people think that they have to act and market themselves as a big hit or something. And when they do that all originality is lost. You’re the coolest when you are YOU. period. 
    thnx for the share!

  • Pingback: A Quest for Authentic Leadership - Tony Adams Project Manager

  • Pingback: Start Retirement Goals: Today's Social Security & Pension Value | TC Spear