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“Be Yourself” & Three Other Misleading Leadership Concepts

“Be yourself.”

“The leader in you must shine.”

“Share with others how you feel.”

“Be authentic.”

All is given as good advice, or is it? All the above are misleading statements that lead to in-authenticity.

"You have to be yourself," they say. Not really. Because "you" are, and that is enough.
You do not have to try to be yourself. You are already who you are. When you try to be yourself, you are trying to stick to a picture from the past you consider to be you. Instead, let “you” be. Whatever you decide to do, it will be you. It might be a part of you that you might not be familiar with, but it is you.

For example: someone gives an opinion you disagree with. If it is your boss, you do not want to anger her so you just pretend you agree. Does that mean you are not authentic? No. It is you who made the decision to play along. That is authentic. You might not be doing what you prefer to do, which is tell the boss exactly how you feel. But it is YOU who made that decision. You are authentic.

“The leader in you must shine.”

Another misleading statement. Trust me the leader in you will. No need to make a bid deal out of it. Just let it be. It will happen on its own. So even when you are feeling shy or timid. Even if you step backward avoiding limelight. The leader in you will shine. Do not worry. Just be accepting of your feelings and be accepting that you will make choices and sometimes they might not come across as straight forward or strong or assertive. But the leader in you will shine. It needs the right moment, the right circumstances, and the right choices.

Many advise:

“Share with others how you feel.”

Sure. When it makes sense. But sometimes it is stupid to share how you feel. For example, your employees are afraid that you will not be able to make the right decision. To share with them that you feel the same way will not help at all. So at that moment, you might decide to look and act strong even though you have doubts. That is very authentic. Nothing wrong with that.

So do you have to be authentic? if that means being honest to your self and being observant of your actions, then yes, by all means. But if it means wearing your heart on the outside, and sharing all your thoughts and emotions then definitely not.

The only time you would be inauthentic is if you are not observant of your choices and why you are making them. So if I decide to pretend to be confident when I am not, agreeing when I am not, or sad when I am not, I need to be observant of that “pretend” that is happening and understand why I am doing it and how I am doing it. This makes it immediately authentic. Observe yourself. What you are doing. Why you are doing it. This is authenticity.

The only time you are inauthentic is when you are not aware of your emotions, behaviors, or statements. To give an example, some become very accommodating in certain situations, without being aware that they are. When confronted with it they deny their actions. That means they are not aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it, and if that happens, that is in-authenticity. Other than that, it is you, your true self, and you are authentic.

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