CEOs are wondering how much authenticity is too much or too little, according to Karissa Thacker, a consultant who specializes inexecutive behavior.
"Leaders who lie to their teams are lying to themselves," said Thacker. "When I consult with senior level corporate leaders, I ask them to ferociously seek the truth about themselves and their business situations."
Thacker, whose clients include over 200 of the Fortune 500, says authenticity is not black and white. It is a process that leaders must work on to improve themselves and their companies.
"The number one myth about authenticity is that you are either authentic or not. The average person tells 2-5 lies per day in order to make themselves look good. Authenticity is not a yes or no thing like being pregnant.
"Leaders should ask themselves how can I be 5% more authentic today? Then they should write what comes out of their brain. From the list choose two reasonable actions and execute. This technique has revolutionized the ways in which many of my clients act and interact."
Here are some tips she offers executives.
- Ferociously seek the truth about yourself and your business situation.
- Ask what is really going on. Listen to the answers. Don't shoot the messengers. Then do it again.
- Know your selves. Make a list of every aspect of yourself that you can think of.
- Expect contradictions. For example, your list could include: father, executive, student, collaborator, procrastinator, dry sense of humor, humble roots, football fan, gay man, provocateur, husband, divorced, daughter of a creative genius, wine connoisseur, charmer or introvert. If you get stuck, ask your family for descriptors. "Ask yourself what aspects of yourself are relevant to this business challenge with this group of people?
"Begin to make the relevant aspects an overt part of your executive brand," she said. "It is impossible and inappropriate for any team to know the total you."