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