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The Authentic Leader: Why Pleasing Isn’t Always Leading

The Authentic Leader: Why Pleasing Isn’t Always Leading

The Authentic Leader: Why Pleasing Isn’t Always Leading

In the evolving world of leadership, the line between appeasement and authenticity often becomes blurred. Each decision, each interaction, carries with it the weight of potential implications. Can a leader be both likable and effective? Does the quest for popularity dilute the essence of leadership? These questions are crucial as we delve deeper into the multifaceted realm of authentic leadership, which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t about mirroring what everyone wishes to hear, but articulating what genuinely needs to be conveyed.

Building Trust Through Authenticity:

In the vast lexicon of leadership literature, trust remains a recurrent theme. Trust is more than a mere by-product of consistent actions or transparent intentions. It is the linchpin that holds the mosaic of organizational dynamics together. So, what factors contribute to building this trust?

  • Genuine Relationships: In an era dominated by digital interactions, the essence of human connection becomes even more paramount. Leaders who prioritize genuine, heartfelt communication over transactional exchanges establish deeper, more meaningful connections. They transcend the traditional leader-team member paradigm, creating bonds that resonate on both professional and personal levels.
  • Consistency in Communication: Leadership, like any other relationship, thrives on predictability. While spontaneity has its moments, consistency in messaging, especially during tumultuous times, anchors trust. It provides the team with a sense of security, knowing that the leadership’s stance and direction remain steadfast, even when the seas get rough.

Trust, when cultivated, not only boosts morale but also enhances productivity. A team that trusts its leadership invests more effort, showcases increased commitment, and often goes the extra mile, knowing their contributions are valued and recognized.

Driving Growth Through Feedback:

The term ‘growth’ in an organizational context often evokes images of rising revenue graphs, expanding market shares, and increasing profitability. However, at its core, growth is a deeply personal journey, one that is intricately linked with feedback.

  • Learning Atmosphere: A conducive learning environment is one where every single achievement, no matter how minuscule, is celebrated. Conversely, every setback, instead of being a source of reprimand, is viewed as an opportunity to learn and evolve. This perspective shift, often championed by authentic leaders, transforms organizations from being task-driven to learning-driven.
  • Navigating Through Failures: History is replete with tales of colossal failures that paved the way for groundbreaking innovations. It’s not the failure itself, but the response to it that defines its outcome. Leaders who embrace setbacks, dissecting them for insights and lessons, create a culture of resilience. They foster teams that are not deterred by challenges but are adaptable and agile, always ready to bounce back.

Feedback loops, both positive and negative, are essential for this growth process. They provide direction, highlight areas of improvement, and often serve as catalysts for innovation.

Choosing Respect Over Popularity:

Popularity, with its transient nature, can be a seductive pursuit. The allure of being liked, of having decisions met with universal nods of approval, can sometimes overshadow the broader vision. However, history and experience both emphasize that leadership isn’t a popularity contest.

  • Visionary Decisions: Leaders like Steve Jobs, who was often known for his uncompromising approach, made decisions that were initially met with skepticism, only to be lauded later. Whether it’s a paradigm-shifting product launch, a structural overhaul, or a strategic pivot, decisions anchored in long-term vision often require the mettle to face short-term scrutiny.
  • The Balance of Approval: Constructive feedback is invaluable. However, a leader’s fixation on universal approval can be counterproductive. It’s essential to discern between feedback that adds value and feedback that merely echoes popular sentiment. The latter, when heeded without scrutiny, can lead organizations astray.

Balancing the scales between respect and popularity requires leaders to not only be firm in their convictions but also be open to divergent viewpoints, creating an amalgam of vision and adaptability.

Cultivating a Culture of Candor:

Transparent communication is the hallmark of authentic leadership. It’s not just about the monumental town-hall meetings or the quarterly reviews; it’s ingrained in everyday interactions.

  • Open Dialogue: A culture where team members, irrespective of their hierarchy, feel empowered to voice opinions, share concerns, and present ideas without apprehension, results in a hotbed of innovation. It encourages out-of-the-box thinking and fosters a sense of ownership among team members.
  • A Two-Way Street: Authenticity in communication isn’t restricted to leaders articulating their visions and directives. It also involves listening, truly listening, to feedback, concerns, and suggestions. Active listening not only provides leaders with invaluable insights but also reinforces the team’s sense of belonging and value.

In the annals of leadership, there’s a profound distinction between leaders who merely occupy positions and those who lead with purpose. The latter, invariably, are the ones who understand the nuances of communication, trust, growth, and respect.

To encapsulate, leadership, in its most profound form, is a journey that threads the fine line between empathy and authenticity. It demands clarity of vision, resilience in adversity, and an unwavering commitment to the larger organizational purpose. It’s not about echoing popular sentiments but about charting a course that, while occasionally met with skepticism, leads to lasting success and impact.

About Rich Brown: I’m a seasoned technology executive with a track record of driving growth as a CTO and CIO. I excel in building high-performing teams and executing technology strategies centered on platform modernization and digital transformation. With a career spanning over two decades, I have overseen the development of cutting-edge enterprise solutions for small, medium & large organizations that directly impact cost savings and contribute to top-line revenue growth. My passion for technology, hands-on experience as a software engineer, and international consulting background make me a sought-after strategic partner for organizations seeking innovation and results.

Follow me on this journey: 
Medium —  https://medium.com/@richbrownio
Twitter — https://twitter.com/richbrownio
Web — https://richbrown.io/

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