What’s Your AQ? And why does it matter?
Ok I made that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s a thing.
It has to do with your personal leadership credibility.
We all know about IQ. It’s your Intelligence quotient score derived from some standardized tests.
So if we can quantify that, it’s not too big a leap to apply “quotient” to other important things
Like FQ – Frustration Quotient. How frustrated am I ?
Or TQ – What’s the level of Truth in this situation?
Or B.S.Q -What’s the level of …well you know.
There are many other Q’s and I could go on, but will resist.
I’m Talking About “Authenticity Quotient”
It’s like your personal credibility rating, or integrity score but so much more.
I’m surprised at how many leaders have a specific work persona and a whole different person shows up elsewhere. And it surprises me when these same leaders seem shocked or confused when their employees don’t trust them, don’t like them, and can’t really wait to work elsewhere.
Authenticity in leadership is one of those things everybody declares to be super important. Many groups and organizations I work with have an “authenticity lingo” baked in to their core values (I.E. authentic culture, authentic relationships etc.)
To me, when someone self-references the word in anything other than an aspirational context, they’ve broken some sort of spell. The moment you have to self -declare a trait like this, you’re probably not a representative of that trait. It’s something you either are or you ain’t. At its essence, it’s one of those rare know-it-when-you-see-it qualities that if you have to spend a lot of time talking about it or trying to analyze it, it simply evaporates. Like wind, you can’t see it, but you’re highly aware when you see its effects.
Before diving in, I’ll offer a soft disclaimer. Nobody’s appointed me official spokesperson on “authenticity”. But if that job existed– how cool would that be? I can speak for myself and offer some good examples of authenticity that I’ve observed.
I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders.
I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders. Something weird happened with the rise of the internet. Our humanness, relationships and accountability got reduced to a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, making sketchy leadership all the more possible. With multi-media bombardment and the rise of “truthiness” (thanks Stephen Colbert), we find ourselves increasingly attracted to the wrong type of charismatic leaders.
“I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.” Charles R. Swindoll
Here are some hallmark characteristics of authentic leadership at work:
- Genuine leaders practice confident humility. They know themselves. They know their strengths, understand their virtues and recognize their limitations. They stand by their convictions, but are quick to admit their errors. They seek help and feedback from others. When wins happen, they share the spotlight with others and applaud their contributions.
- Genuine leaders embrace their own life story and share it easily. They are comfortable in their own skin and learn from their experience. Somehow they are able to connect the dots backwards in order to move forward and inspire and motivate others. Genuine leaders don’t derive pleasure or satisfaction from the opinions of others. This allows them to move unaffected by fear or favour following a direction from within that’s aligned with their principles and values.
- Failure is an ever-present option. Genuine leaders master the ability to bounce back with resilience, turn setbacks into opportunities and convert fear into wisdom. Pragmatic, optimistic leadership when combined with sheer grit and a positive “stick to it” mindset can be contagious at times when the chips are down
- Authenticity strives for the good of others and speaks truth in kind and appropriate ways. Genuine leaders build high quality relationships and networks that are marked by trustworthiness, empathy and relentless reliability. Ben Franklin (U.S. Founding Father, author and inventor) began his morning routine with the question ”What good shall I do this day?” He ended it with “What good have I done this day?”
- Genuine leaders lead by example and build culture and community around shared truths and values that others can buy into. They have a knack for zeroing in on our core elements: spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. These four elements are the basis of all our capacity for self-improvement. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact leading in a forthright manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy can be cruel.
- Genuine leaders lead with an eye on the future and deal with today’s problems without compromising the future. They realize that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene Brown
Being authentic is a work in progress and an endless process of growth.
It always starts with a critical and honest look in the mirror. Authentic leaders believe that there is always room for improvement and never stop.
Building and maintaining your AQ is hard work, but it pays off in the long term. It is like exercising: While you are training, you feel tired, but you know it is good for your body. Staying authentic in leadership and life is not easy, but it can be observed, measured and learned.
Until next time!
Here for you.
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