I know… I know everything! I am everything! –Connor MacLeod (of the Clan MacLeod)
Sure, a quote like that is fine from The Highlander, but have you ever heard it or felt it from a boss?
It would seem many leaders feel a great temptation to pretend they know everything…or at least everything the future holds. Perhaps, it’s more of an unreasonable need to project self-confidence, not realizing that people can see right through it. Even if they don’t see it initially, the folks we work with will eventually recognize our pretension. Leaders often fail to understand that people do not need a leader to have every answer.
As leaders, we need to consider this: Individuals can live without certainty from a leader, but not without clarity. Authenticity is really what people need from a leader.
au·then·tic·i·ty ˌôTHenˈtisitē/ noun
- the quality of being authentic.”the paper should have established the authenticity of the documents before publishing them”
- a technical term used in psychology as well as existentialist philosophy and aesthetics. In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the consciousself is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. A lack of authenticity is considered in existentialism to be bad faith.
Now more than ever we can not know what the future brings, so perhaps it is better if we don’t speak certainty on an issue of which we are unsure. Yet, when we speak we speak with clarity and authenticity, even if our words only paint a small part of the future’s picture. Clarity in an organization and from a leader, comes from authentic leadership, vision, and philosophy. Maybe the people we work with don’t need certainty on every issue, but they certainly appreciate our authenticity and clarity on every issue.