Can Authenticity be Manufactured?

Posted by Sheila in Authentic Leaders, Transforming Leaders on 26th November 2012 | Comments Off on Can Authenticity be Manufactured?
This was one of the questions that came up in the IOIC  seminar  that I spoke at on Wednesday.  We were discussing a video clip of Hilary Clinton following polls that put her behind Obama in the race for the White House in 2008. She was talking from the heart – or so I believed  –  and while much of the room agreed with me, some were suspicious. The implication from the doubters was she’d been trained to deliberately turn on the tears to manipulate the audience. If that was the case the media trainers had done one heck of a job right down to the bags under the eyes and the sheer exhaustion in her voice!

To me she showed herself as a woman as well as a politician and I identified with her as a committed tired woman determined to do her best.  (Apparently so did women in US as her popularity ratings went up dramatically following the broadcast.)  I don’t think you can manufacture or train that ‘from the heart’ response.

However I do think as a communication coach you can help the leader weigh the options and risks around how much emotional vulnerability to reveal at critical moments. You can also help them acknowledge the different facets of themselves and recognise which facets will best talk to their followers – if you want to connect with other women you can show the you that struggles with your weight and cares about your children as well as the leader facet that cares about your country and its future. In essence you can’t tell a leader what to do to be seen as authentic but you can guide them in how to maximise the opportunities.

You’ll never get all the doubters to believe from one apparently authentic experience, but coaching leaders to develop a sense of self and ‘other’ awareness that is backed up by appropriate and consistent actions will generate a greater experience of their authenticity.

See what you think

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