Extraordinary Authenticity

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability … To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

~ Madeleine L’Engle

Extraordinary Authenticity

By David Novak

People know and follow the real deal when they see it, those who walk through life on their own terms, who stay true to their beliefs, and who don’t back down. We can all name people like this, and there’s often a pretty broad consensus that such diverse figures as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, and Winston Churchill are (or were) all real deals, which goes to show that authenticity can be demonstrated in many different styles.

I call this having “extraordinary authenticity,” which means having the ability to be yourself even in the toughest situations. This requires living with a paradox: To inspire as a leader, you need to know your stuff, but you also need to be able to admit when you don’t know stuff. You need to be both confident and vulnerable at the same time (p. 31).

Novak, D. (2012). Taking people with you: the only way to make big things happen. New York: Penguin Group.

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114, http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu/


Coaching Call to Action

Do you agree with Novak that you have to show your confidence and your vulnerability to be an authentic leader? How has this worked or not worked for you? Please share your thoughts below in the comment section.