[EAS] Authenticity

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Thu Feb 26 20:49:47 EST 2004

Subject:   Authenticity

(from INNOVATION, 25 February 2004)

There is a great deal of talk these days about authenticity -- but
precious  little of it to go around. Two years ago, as stories of
corporate thievery  and malfeasance mounted, people wondered
whatever happened to honesty, integrity and ethics -- all hallmarks
of authenticity. Now, it may be making a comeback. In his
best-selling book "Authentic Leadership," Bill  George, former CEO
of Medtronic, writes that authenticity isn't just a nice idea, it's
a leadership imperative. In simplest terms, being authentic means
you stand up for what you believe and you deliver on what you 
promise. Leaders demonstrate authenticity through their
communications  styles. Some suggestions for conveying authenticity:
set expectations about  what you expect -- let your employees know
you expect them to be courteous  and cooperative with each other; be
available -- keep your door open and  let people know you want to
hear their ideas; listen to people, even the  ones who require
tremendous patience, and let them know you understand what  they've
said; and respect people as people -- validate their humanity by 
speaking to them about what's on their minds, not just about their
jobs. (Darwin Magazine Feb 2004)

Dear Colleagues -

Another fascinating case of newspeak. In your dictionary, authenticy
is "the quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or
genuine." That's how CEOs should always have behaved. The underlying
values of truth, honesty, sincerity and integrity are making "a
comeback" under the label of "authenticity." How nice.

Avoiding a direct tie to those underlying values leaves a lot of
flexibility in evolving the meaning of "authenticity," such as the
qualities of approachability, courtesy and patience you already see
above, which liars use often.

I hope Geoff Nunberg, the Stanford linguist and frequent NPR
commentator, will do one of his "Fresh Air" pieces on this.


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