It is a Sunday evening and I am just coming towards the end of another terrific weekend. I love my job and I truly believe it is a great honour to work for my organisation www.dosh.org and www.thera.co.uk and while I do some work at the weekends (usually before my family wake) I do see the weekend as ‘me’ time. My time is when I get to spend lots of time with my family, walking with them, listening to them and having lots of laughter together. Other than running, I have no real interest in being on my own.
However, if there is one thing I like to insist on over a weekend, it is that I get to be the one who looks after our daughter Bettina when we are out. We actually compete within our family on who looks after her as she is such fun to be with. This weekend we were together on Saturday and Sunday shopping. I love her company and Bettina loves being with the guy who buys her anything her heart desires!
There was a time in Bettina’s early years, because of her Autism and her coming to terms with that condition, when she could not cope with a cuddle unless you were standing up. More often than not she pushed my face away, she avoided eye contact (unless it was on her terms) and there were many sounds she could not cope with (and still can’t). With her courage and her family’s love she has progressed and evolved into the wonderful woman she is today. There is one description of Bettina though that has not changed and that she is ‘authentic’.
Bettina has always been true to herself – she doesn’t compromise on being authentic. Regular readers of my blog series ‘Being Bettina’s Dad’ will know that I have learned so much from how she acts and moves within her world. To me she is unique, I have never met anybody like her and I know I never will.
So what have I learned from her authenticity and what it takes to be as authentic as Bettina?
- Bettina’s nature is consistent and she remains true to her beliefs no matter what situation she finds herself in.
- Bettina builds honest relationships with both her family and also those who support her. Bettina is straightforward and always deals in an honest way with the people who are involved in her life.
- Bettina is always open with people who are significant in her life. Bettina does not have hidden agendas and, like her big sister Jennifer, what you see is what you get.
- Bettina knows and recognises her fears and anxieties and what coping mechanisms she needs to adopt (and does adopt)
- Bettina always does the right thing for the people who she associates with and who come into contact with her on a day to day basis.
“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.” Janet Louise Stephenson
The roots of authentic leadership come from ancient Greek philosophy that focuses on the development of core, or cardinal, virtues. These virtues are Prudence (fair-mindedness, wisdom, seeing all possible courses of action), Temperance (being emotionally balanced and in control), Justice (being fair in dealings with others), and Fortitude (courage to do the right thing).
Becoming an authentic leader is not easy. It takes a great deal of self-reflection, and always having the courage to do the right thing. Like Bettina it involves a degree of selflessness.
“Authenticity is more than speaking; Authenticity is also about doing. Every decision we make says something about who we are.” Simon Sinek
So my 6 take aways from Bettina on becoming an Authentic Leader:
- Know who you are and what is important to you
- Always be true to yourself (no matter what the current trend or fashion is)
- Don’t hide your fears and anxieties and ask for help when you need it.
- Be consistent in what you believe in and what you stand for
- Through your example and role modelling, share with others what it means to be authentic
- Be optimistic (Sir Ernest Shackleton the polar explorer said being optimistic is true moral courage).
A word of caution though, you can be a little too authentic! One area of Bettina’s life is that she loves slap stick humour, so if someone slips on a banana skin, she thinks they are doing this to amuse her. In Café Nero’s the other day a smart business man slid on the slippery floor and cried out “whoa, “whoa” Bettina burst out laughing. Her family put their fingers to their lips to signal not to laugh out loud but Bettina just looked at us with a facial expression of “ why”? I am just being authentic.
Source: ‘Bill George’s Authentic Leadership Model ‘- Five Characteristics of Authentic Leadership http://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2017/04/09/15415/
“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” Oprah Winfrey