Wendy Talbot PhD – Director
6 January 2020
Introducing the JUST Leadership© Activity Cards
JUST Leadership Activity Card 2: Authenticity
Principle Māori: Ngākau pono – Sincerity, in good faith, loyalty
Western Principle: Focusing on authentic, reciprocal, non-coercive relationships
Many organisational relationships tend to be transactional. They are based on give and take arrangements where employers pay workers to produce goods and services. Customers purchase these which satisfy them and contribute to the success of the organisation. Or, at least, that is the plan. These relationships are couched in terms of win-win transactions where everyone is supposed to benefit.
Many organisational relationships tend to be transactional
But in reality, for a raft of complex cultural and political reasons, they are not always mutually beneficial. Coercive and manipulative means are often used in relationships to get the best possible deal for the best price. Invariably, a win-lose relation is established and those on the ‘lose’ end of the equation suffer, with limited options for redress.
Invariably, a win-lose relation is established and those on the ‘lose’ end of the equation suffer, with limited options for redress
Ironically, when organisations adopt strategies that are intent on getting more and more out of people or resources while putting less and less in to them, the productivity and profits also tend to suffer along with many employees and customers. Satisfaction, commitment, loyalty and wellbeing are all compromised in such a climate. Sadly, this cycle is intricately woven into the fabric of many organisations.
There are simpler, more culturally inclusive, equitable and effective ways of relating. These include establishing best possible relationships intent on benefitting relational partners and the wider community. They don’t begin with prescriptive sales or bargaining techniques (shaking hands with the ‘right’ amount of strength, maintaining steady eye-contact, developing and open posture, power dressing etc.), they begin with a commitment to wellbeing and values of mutual care and respect for people, the community and the environment. One way to contribute to these kinds of relationships is to foster authenticity . According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, authenticity involves being “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character [and] is sincere and authentic with no pretensions”. This description focuses more on individuals and I argue that authenticity involves creating the conditions in which all participants can mutually contribute to and be richer for. Such relationships usually require a focus on care for people and cultural perspectives and how these impact on relationships. Safety, equity and freedom from coercion and exploitation are more likely to create satisfaction and wellbeing that can only be good for people, business, communities and the environment.
There are simpler, more culturally inclusive, equitable and effective ways of relating. They begin with a commitment to wellbeing and values of mutual care and respect for people, the community and the environment.
When cultural preferences are taken into account, eye-contact and a firm hand-shake may well be appropriate in some contexts and not others. Sometimes a hug and/or hongi (exchanging breath and sharing souls by pressing noses and foreheads in greeting) is more relationally and culturally appropriate. For others the closeness of these encounters may be experienced as threatening. Meeting in an office may work well in some situations and meeting in different territory such as marae or neutral ground may best serve the relationship and context.
When cultural preferences are taken into account, eye-contact and a firm hand-shake may well be appropriate in some contexts and not others.
The skill involves working out how to achieve these relationships. People may need to review their relating styles and purposes and develop relationships with values and principles that may be new or different. Some principles and values can include:
• Appreciation for diversity
• Commitment to equitable, inclusive relationships
• Curiosity and inquiry that asks who, what, where, when, how and why we do things and what effects these have
• A collaborative and cooperative stance
• A shift from a view that time is money and a cost to the business to time spent on relationships is well spent and good for business
• A view that sincerity, care, respect, good faith, loyalty and commitment to serving the greater good are worthy and vital business practices that flourish or suffer in relationships.
Some questions to consider –
• What do you think about the idea of developing relationships for relationships sake?
• If authenticity was something you and your organisation aspired to, how would you define it? What are some expressions of authenticity?
• What difference might these concepts make?
Harmsworth, G. (October, 2005). Report on the incorporation of traditional values/tikanga into Contemporary Māori business organisation and process. Auckland, New Zealand: Mana Taiao Ltd.
Ladkin, D., & Spiller, C. (2014). Authentic leadership: clashes, convergences and coalescences [Introduction]. retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/31231503/Introduction_Authentic_leadership_clashes_convergences_and_coalescences
Adventurous Conversations Ltd work with organisations to develop values driven, people centred, relational and collaborative culture and relationships. Call, email, or book a no obligation 30-minute introductory consultation if you want to turn the tide towards more relational organisational culture and approaches. Click here to contact us or book an appointment.