In this article Terry Pearce, the author of LEADING OUT LOUD A Guide For Engaging Others In Creating The Future, places authenticity and empathy at the heart of corporate communication. To be an effective leader and build healthier, more honest forms of communication within your company, you must learn to show your true Self to others. Creating an atmosphere of authenticity will help leaders to foster trust, creativity and performance with their employees.
When leaders first think of announcing a significant change or initiative, a speech or presentation is the method that most often comes to mind. While such an initial introduction is necessary, it is in the far more frequent, informal and spontaneous conversations—in the town halls, meetings, and one-to-one conversations that take place in conference rooms, offices, and around the coffee machine — that leadership communication is most often practiced. To be effective as a leader we must over time bring ourselves authentically, in our real skin, to the full range of situations in which we will be called to move our advocacy forward.
Who you are and what you care about does not change in the course of moving from formal speaking to casual conversation — although finding the courage to express the reality of your humanness may come more easily in one venue than in another. In informal conversations and discussions, of course, authenticity must happen in real time. In the face of questions, contributions, and challenges, the natural human tendency is to defend ourselves, patronise others, avoid personal exposure, and make our point with even greater certainty. In the process, we could drive wedges that make it difficult for others to listen carefully, or to speak with honesty or candour in our presence.