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It's O.K. to be Inauthentic


I am often inauthentic. There, I said it. A weight has been lifted.

No Authentic Leadership

“Be your authentic self” and the many versions of this saying in leadership and business jargon recently has begun to grate on my nerves. My argument against this particular jargon is that it often redefines authenticity or provides a description different than what most people understand as “authentic”.

In this article on, Bill George, who wrote the 2003 book Authentic Leadership, defends his description as “Authentic Leaders monitor their words and behaviors carefully to attuned to their audience and to enroll their colleagues and teammates”. I would argue that if you are being authentic, you shouldn't need to monitor what you say. Somehow, Bill George's argument is that high-monitoring people are more authentic.

Fortunately, I ran across an opinion piece in the NY Times that moves past the jargon word of “authentic” and refocuses it back to high self-monitors (those aware of their environments, looking for clues and adjusting) and low self-monitors (guided by your inner states regardless of circumstances). The article continues to explain the positives and negatives for both sides.

The desire to be true-to-self and not being fake is understandable. At the same time, we are changing entities learning new things, having our own reactions, feelings and thoughts that maybe shouldn't be shared/expressed as they are, especially in a work setting. Deciding to temper or change my reactions because I have a strong understanding of the circumstances and reactions of those around me should not be taken as inauthentic.

My feelings of dislike for “authenticity” was elegantly put into words by Peter Bergman in his article, A Simple Formula for Changing Our Behavior, “Practicing a new behavior, showing up in a new way, or acting differently, feels inauthentic... If we want to learn, we need to tolerate the feeling of inauthenticity long enough to integrate a new way of being.”

I often feel inauthentic. I am okay with it because I understand the impact I may be having on those around me. I approach things with sincerity as I try to learn and change my behaviors and thoughts to be as good as those as I am projecting.

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