Saturday, April 12, 2008

How Important is Authenticity?

(Representative Men was Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1850 phrase for the great men in a democracy”.)

“Is there some common quality among these Representative Men who have been most successful as our leaders? I call it the need to be authentic—or, as our dictionaries tell us, conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance or belief. While the charismatic has an uncanny outside source of strength, the authentic is strong because he is what he seems to be.”

                                                      Daniel J. Boorstin

Here in the USA we are overwhelmed with communications about our coming presidential election. Hopefully we’ll not get so fatigued by the claims and counterclaims of leadership excellence that we tune out.

Perhaps of more lasting importance to you and me is the societal shift that calls for each of us to express more leadership in our families, organizations and in our communities. 

And whether it is in evaluating a political candidate or setting a standard for ourselves in a leadership role, Boorstin’s counsel is wise:  is the candidate what “he (or she) seems to be?” Are we gaining our strength from acting consistent with what we profess to be?

Tough questions, I know. Perhaps next week I’ll lighten up a bit.

Offered with love and respect,


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