What is Authenticity?

Authenticity is a concept of personality in the fields of psychology, existential psychotherapy, existentialist philosophy, and aesthetics. In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which a person’s actions are congruent with his or her values and desires, despite external pressures to social conformity.

Put simply, authenticity means you are true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you’re under to act otherwise. You are honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes.

How do we show Authenticity?

  1. Speaking your opinions honestly in a healthy way.
  2. Making decisions that align with your values and beliefs.
  3. Pursuing your passions.
  4. Listening to the inner voice guiding you forward.
  5. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open-hearted.
  6. Setting boundaries and walking away from toxic situations.

How do researchers define Authenticity?

The concept is still debated today, but psychologists Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman developed an Authenticity Inventory in 2000 comprised of four key factors:

  1. Self-awareness: Knowledge of and trust in one’s own motives, emotions, preferences, and abilities.
  2. Unbiased processing: Clarity in evaluating your strengths and your weaknesses without denial or blame.
  3. Behaviour: Acting in ways congruent with your own values and needs, even at the risk of criticism or rejection.
  4. Relational orientation: Close relationships, which inherently require openness and honesty.

What is Authentic Leadership?

Authentic leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on transparent and ethical leader behaviour and encourages open sharing of information needed to make decisions while accepting followers’ inputs. Authentic leadership is about being you and making room for others, too.

How do you develop an authentic leadership style?

  • Explore your values
  • Journal
  • Solicit feedback
  • Practise brutal honesty with yourself and gentle honesty with others
  • Develop your listening skills
  • Share personal stories
  • Write your own code of ethics
  • Create a leadership learning plan
  • Be open to suggestions

Key Questions to Reflect on as Leader:

  • How well do you understand who you are?
  • How clearly can you articulate your values?
  • How aligned are your thoughts, words, and actions?
  • How reflective are you?
  • How honest are you with yourself and others?
  • How often do you seek feedback?
  • How deeply do you listen?

Articles

Better Up

Authentic leadership: Why showing up as yourself matters

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Forbes

Authenticity Is Not What You May Think

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Frontiers in Psychology

The Essence of Authenticity

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Harvard Business Review

The Authenticity Paradox

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Mind Tools

Authenticity: How to Be True to Yourself

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Psychology Today

Authenticity

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Soul Salt

How to Be Your Authentic Self: 7 Powerful Strategies to Be True

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Books

Burrowes, Dr Nina

The little book on authenticity

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Joseph, Professor Stephen

Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters

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Pooley, Claire and Cordell, Anna

The Authenticity Project

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Sherwood, Alice and Atherton, Kristin

Authenticity: How Economics, Evolution and Technology Drive Us to Deceive—and How We Can Fight Back

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Thacker, Karissa and Saltus, Karen

The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self

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Timms, Daniella Christina

YOUR AUTHENTICITY IS YOUR TRADEMARK: EMPOWERING BOOK FOR ENTREPRENEURS, LEADERS AND CONSCIENTIOUS THINKERS

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Listen

Are You Being Real?

The Authenticity Podcast – Mark Shapiro

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The Art of Authenticity

Laura Coe

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Authentic Podcast Network

Podcast directory

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Flow into Authenticity

How to let go of assumptions that hold you back

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The Path to Authenticity

Psychology Today

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Piece of Authenticity Podcast

Good Shepherd: Right & Left

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Watch

Worklife with Adam Grant

Authenticity is a double-edged sword

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Bevy Smith

How to discover your authentic self – at any age

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Devin Mallory

The power of authenticity

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Fergal McFerran

The power and tension of authenticity

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Gina London

The Myth of Authenticity

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Irene Rose

The Courage to be Yourself

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Jodi-Ann Burey

The myth of bringing your full, authentic self to work

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Misty Gilbert

The Art of Authenticity: How to Show Up as the Real You

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Nina Maybe

Radical Vulnerability: Choosing Authenticity as an Act of Resistance

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What People Say

If you are looking to work with someone who has an infectious passion for making positive change happen, you will love working with Hannah. She has a wealth of experience at a senior leadership level and is hugely committed to the diversity agenda. I have benefitted personally from Hannah’s wisdom and guidance on these issues on a number of occasions.

Andy Buck

Founding DirectorLeadership Matters

When it comes to authentic and courageous leadership, Hannah is unbeatable. Her value-driven approach allows her to be precise and focused whilst taking an empathic approach. One of the leadership traits I admire the most in Hannah is her commitment to asking the difficult questions that others avoid, and this has been evident in her work encouraging Diverse Leaders. She is fearless and highly skilled at driving change, even in complex situations. Hannah is a catalyst and can cause a mindset shift in one conversation. Her leadership creates leaders.

Jaz Ampaw-Farr

Author & Speaker

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