The following clip form the BBC hit my feed earlier today, and now more that ever it seems VERY appropriate…
“Authenticity” is a concept or actually a principle that I have focused on numerous times across the 250+ essays that I have posted on-line. I have always considered “Authenticity” a foundational principal for leaders, and my experiences in 2009 around the passing of my first boss, Bruce Paynter, provide vivid memories that I reflect on often today. After battling ALS for months, he was nearing his passing, and I had the chance/honor to spend a few days with him at a hospice center. Across that time together, we had three deep profound conversations, one centering around this idea of “Authenticity.” He deeply felt that “Authenticity” was the foundation for leadership, and successful, effective leaders. We talked for hours about this idea, comparing notes on business leaders we both knew, and talked about what made some effective and others ineffective and we kept coming around to this concept… “Authentic” leaders were effective and impactful leaders…. period.
Bruce had me draw a grid… his “grid of authenticity” … that had “Words” and “Actions” identified on each axis, and “+” and “-“ symbols at the ends of each axis. In his mind… his definition…an “authentic” leader needed to ensure that their “Words” and “Actions” we aligned. He had be draw a line from top right (positive “words” and “actions”) to the bottom left of the grid (negative “words” and “actions”) and he called this his “rail of authenticity.” Effective leaders operated as close to the “rail” as possible, working to have their “words” and “actions” as aligned as possible.
As I sit here, writing this essay 14+ years later, I still remember that time in the hospice center and those powerful conversations. In reflection, I think back on the discussion highlighted above and am deeply moved and strengthened by the TRUTH that Bruce’s “rail” is deeply true and has been a model that I have tried to embody in my personal and professional lives. Let Merriam-Webtser’s “top word of 2023” be a driver for you… and a reminder that we all need to focus on our “words” and our “actions and find ways to come closer to “Bruce’s rail!”
p.s. here is the link to the original essay that I wrote just a few days after that fateful "authentic" conversation back in 2009... take a look. https://fylegacy.blogspot.com/2009/06/authenticity-foundation-of-leadership.html