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fred8033

Leadership as "Authenticity"

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Posted (edited)

For the first time, I heard leadership described as authenticity.  I didn't know that was an old representation.  I wish I heard that representation 15 years ago.  I think it's a great term around which to teach leadership and relate attributes of leadership.

I think we as scouters can use the term "authenticity" as a teaching tool.  For many years I've assserted BSA unit leaders should stop explicitly teaching "leadership" as so many leaders do an absolute horrible job at it.  Often I see bad examples, demoralized scouts or explicitly the exact oppositve of what I view as good leadership.   Instead, I've suggested using very simple scoutmaster moments and then mainly focus on keeping the scouts active and inspired to do new things the the scouts themselves get invested in doing.

BUT, my recent reading on "Authenticity may be changing my opinion.  

      https://hbr.org/2005/12/managing-authenticity-the-paradox-of-great-leadership

What if we use "Authenticity" as a primary tool to teach leadership ?

What is it?  How do we live it?.

  • Authenticity is NOT necessarily an innate quality. 
    • You can consciously groom and develop it.
    • Authenticity is a quality that others must attribute to you. 
    • People want to be led by someone “real.”   
    • People see authenticity as sincerity, honesty, and integrity.
  • Ensure that your words are consistent with your deeds.  aka ... practice what you preach
  • Look for honest feedback.  Beware people telling who only tell you what you want to hear.
  • Pursue experiences outside your comfort zone as they sharpen social awareness ... aka SCOUTING
  • Effectively manage your own relationship with your past and your followers’ connections to their roots. ... “authenticity” as “of undisputed origin.” 
    • Insatiable interest in the complex factors that reveal where his direct reports come
    • Finding common ground with the people you seek to recruit as followers
      • ... it's not about being false, but selectively revealing parts of who you are
  • Conformity versus being brash
    • Too much conformity can render leaders ineffective;
    • Too little conformity can isolate them.
    • To influence others, authentic leaders must first gain at least minimal acceptance as members of their organizations.
  • Great leaders understand that their reputation for authenticity needs to be painstakingly earned and carefully managed.

 

Heck ... I think I could do a year worth of scoutmaster minutes around "authenticity".

 

 

Edited by fred8033
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36 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I think I could do a year worth of scoutmaster minutes around "authenticity".

I agree.  Authenticity is very important.  If you can fake that, you've got it made.  ;)

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Posted (edited)

Great article and fully agree.  I liked this quote a lot:

Quote

The relative simplicity of their goals often helps. A great leader is usually trying to accomplish no more than three or four big goals at a time. He is unwavering about these goals; he doesn’t question them any more than he questions himself. That’s because the goals are usually connected in some way to one or another of the leader’s authentic selves. His pursuit of the goals, and the way he communicates them to followers, is intense—which naturally promotes the kind of self-disclosure we are talking about and educates him further about his various selves.

To me, this quote gets at the heart of one of the core problems in leadership teaching - balancing how to relate to the people you lead vs. how to set and accomplish goals.  Too often in the Scouting context - whether in youth or in adults, you find people struggle with that balance.  Trends such as:

  • spending so long trying to build credibility with a team that they fail to lead the team.
  • spending so much time trying to mentor the team that they don't lead the team.
  • focusing so much on getting stuff done that they lose sight of the fact that they need to build credibility with the team
Edited by ParkMan
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Posted (edited)

The article appears to be focusing on business managers.  I am not a businessman, so I don't know much about authenticity in business management.  I am a teacher.  I can honestly tell you that things are going in the exact opposite direction in education.  Teachers are not encouraged to be authentic.  Schools are afraid of authenticity.  

Today's school curriculum is designed to teach to the test.  Every minute of instruction time is accounted for.  A classroom lesson plan must identify every teaching activity and match it up with a learning goal from the state curriculum.  The teacher is irrelevant.  The test is everything.  It doesn't matter if the teacher is authentic or not.

I think the same is becoming true of scouting.  Adult association is no longer considered desirable, except for that which is absolutely necessary for advancement and supervision.  Authenticity is unimportant.   Compliance is all that is needed.

In my years on this forum, I have heard many complaints about scout leaders not complying with the rules.  Usually advancement rules.  Sometimes YP rules.  I have yet to hear a single parent complain about a leader's authenticity.  They don't care about authenticity.  They just want the adults to sign their kids off on the requirements and give them their badges.

 

Edited by David CO
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Good stuff.

The challenge for adults influencing leadership in youth is taking what is learned and experienced, and applying it into actions. What I learned:

-leadership doesn’t really appear until most of the team actually desires real goal. Most troops fail because Patrols don’t have true goals that require them to come together. And 3 or 4 Little goals is too many in my experience, even at work. 1 or 2 Real goals provides plenty environment for leadership development.

We once took the new scouts to an indoors laser-tag center for a bonding exercise. Indoor laser-tag sessions are short and very fast. So, success requires real group coordination. I observed (and learned) that the common goal to win each session pulled out willing leaders (“Real”) and willing followers together. In fact, the teams that didn’t know each other well did better organizing because their wasn’t the pride of trying to keep up with friends. The real leader had but one goal, the same goal the followers had. The followers Knew their limitations and wanted a leader that they could trust to get them there. And that all happened in a matter of seconds. I remember the surprise of one scout as the group he was giving a plan accepted his direction so willingly. He was authenticity selling his plan to win was strong and obvious. He wasn’t trying to be the top dog, he just had plan to win.  And the group of scouts who didn’t know each an hour before won several sessions. Pretty cool to watch.

I found that High Adventure treks also pull out the real (Authentic) leaders because the activity is generally mentally and physically exhausting. Exhaustion seems to drive out good and bad authentic behavior, so authentic leadership becomes obvious. True growth requires struggle or pain for motivation. I once watched the quietest shyest 16 year old scout become the the leader among a group of popular Eagle scouts because he knew how to move forward in the difficult very rainy week on a Canadian canoe trip. Even the adults found themselves waiting for this scouts direction.

-The other lesson I learned that I wish other (all) adults would take and trust is that general behavior (leadership in this case) development is the result of observing, not lectures or discussions. Troops that use (rely) on the actions of role models for development are typically the strongest youth run programs. You can see a general leadership attitude from the oldest down to first year scouts. This is where scouts develop “conformity” between effective non effective leaders. And, this is also where adults struggle because their instinct is to rescue non effective leaders.  They don’t allow differences of behavior styles to develop conformity of effective styles, thus the patrol and troop as a whole struggle to mature with the adults implementation of mediocrity.

What I found very interesting about observed leadership growth is the scouts recognize it and will push less mature scouts into positions where they will gain more growth. They instinctively keep behavior growth dynamic. 

Importantly, scouts (vast majority) who aren’t natural leaders, but find themselves in positions of responsibility, will naturally use the leadership skills they have been observing over the years. I even recall how this happened to me when I elected president of a club at Oklahoma State. And, I believe this is why the shy scout stood out among his Eagle friends. The shy scout was a visitor of the Eagle Scouts troop. He was a close school mate, but came from a different troop. 

The best leadership development in a scouting program doesn’t come from proactive leadership development activities, the leadership development comes from the passive process of repeated observations of behavior. Just from observing others during their activities, scouts learn trust what behavior is acceptable and what is not. It should go without saying that troops that use role modeling for growth aren’t just good  leadership troops, but also well disciplined.

Great discussion. 
 

Barry

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

The best leadership development in a scouting program doesn’t come from proactive leadership development activities, the leadership development comes from the passive process of repeated observations of behavior. Just from observing others during their activities, scouts learn trust what behavior is acceptable and what is not. It should go without saying that troops that use role modeling for growth aren’t just good  leadership troops, but also well disciplined.

The best advice I heard about leadership was from my department head when I was a brand new Ensign.  He told me to get a small black book that fit in my back pocket.  One one side, write all the leadership traits and styles your admire and the on the other, all the traits and styles you don’t admire.   That passive collection of leadership and management techniques taught me more than any classes or seminars.  And over 20 years in, I have given that advice to many a young officer or sailor, and now to scouts.

regarding authenticity, while still an Ensign, I quickly realized that the sailors in my division could tell when I was up front and honest or when I was trying to sugar coat or “say the right words.”  Bad news delivered straight and honest is more effective than attempting to soften the news.  I am, and have been for a long time, a believer in authenticity as a leadership style.    

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9 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Leadership doesn’t really appear until most of the team actually desires real goal. Most troops fail because Patrols don’t have true goals that require them to come together. And 3 or 4 Little goals is too many in my experience, even at work. 1 or 2 Real goals provides plenty environment for leadership development.

Absolutely agree.  Years ago ... and we've fallen away from this ... our patrols each had a monthly activity.  Most of their patrol meeting was about that monthly activity.  Maybe a movie.  Maybe a game.  Maybe something else.  The key was the patrol mtg was about doing something they wanted to do.

 

9 hours ago, Eagledad said:

The best leadership development in a scouting program doesn’t come from proactive leadership development activities, the leadership development comes from the passive process of repeated observations of behavior.

Yes and no.  Scouts do learn best by seeing behaviors and repeating them.  BUT, reflections is critical to develop and ingrain permanent skills. 

 

A passive leadership example I remember very very well was between my oldest son's troop and a younger son's troop.  In the older son's troop, we consciously set a practice that if one person was working, we were all working.  AND adults teach by setting the example.  If an adult was working, we got up and helped.  ... If scouts were working, we did our best as adults to find something to do ourselves too.  ... We don't leave someone working on their own.  We're a team.  We value each other.  We help each other.  We are considerate.  Many times, I'd have a task and usually more than enough people would get up and ask if they could help.  ... A reflection of cheerful service.  

My younger son's troop had a practice that each scout was responsible for their own stuff.  Fine.  I can understand.  But it went way too far.  ... My son and I arrived late to camp because of conflicts.  His buddy and his tent were not setup.  His buddy's gear was sitting next to the tent bag.  ... that itself upset me ... It was left to be setup in the dark until we arrived.  I setup my tent ... on my own.  (fine, I've done it many times) ...  In my first troop, that scout tent would have been setup by other scouts stepping up to help.  Instead people sat around the camp fire and essentially watched my son and his friend setup their tent and watched me setup mine.  ... By the time I was done, I was pissed.  I really didn't want to talk to any of the other adults.  Their sitting without making the most minimal effort to help showed that I was not valued.  ... I thought I had offended someone.  ... But it turns out that's the troop's personality.  ...  It made me sad as it was a lesson I did not want my son to learn. ... He and I talked about it later.  How did it make you feel?  What did you wish would have happened?  What example would you want to set? ... Key point I tried to communicate ... I expect my son to get off his butt and help.  Period. 

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12 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Yes and no.  Scouts do learn best by seeing behaviors and repeating them.  BUT, reflections is critical to develop and ingrain permanent skills. 

 

A passive leadership example I remember very very well was between my oldest son's troop and a younger son's troop.  In the older son's troop, we consciously set a practice that if one person was working, we were all working.  AND adults teach by setting the example.  If an adult was working, we got up and helped.  ... If scouts were working, we did our best as adults to find something to do ourselves too.  ... We don't leave someone working on their own.  We're a team.  We value each other.  We help each other.  We are considerate.  Many times, I'd have a task and usually more than enough people would get up and ask if they could help.  ... A reflection of cheerful service.  

As much as we talk about Scout run and Patrol Method, adults still have a lot of influence on the personality of the program. We were developing our New Scout ASM to replace me in a couple of years. During a quiet walk on one campout, I asked him what stood out to him about the troop. He said even though the adults are nearly out of sight of the scouts the whole weekend, their character is almost identical to the adults.

I hadn’t realized that until he said it. Over the years I started comparing the personality of the scouts to their adult leaders. It’s doesn’t take long to see it and it is interesting to watch. Almost humorous. And sadly, the character of some adults is not up to our standards.

You are right, reflections are important. But, I believe if the goal or expectation is clear, the reflection will be clear when a wrong choice is made. The Scout Law are directives for serving others. You came from a troop where serving others is the culture of the program. When you joined a troop where serving self was the culture, reflection was obvious and hurtful.

I was often approached for advice on finding a new SM for their troop. I advised taking a close look at their candidates character. Same goes for the families of new scouts looking for a troop.

Barry

 

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You've hit on the limitation of these kind of analogies and examples.

This article is all about how a leader relates to those people he or she intends to lead.  Authenticity is a tool to help the leader connect with the people in their team.  Authenticity is not the primary point of being a leader.  The primary point of being a leader is to accomplish things.  Being authentic is simply a technique to help a leader accomplish things more effectively.

22 hours ago, David CO said:

The article appears to be focusing on business managers.  I am not a businessman, so I don't know much about authenticity in business management.  I am a teacher.  I can honestly tell you that things are going in the exact opposite direction in education.  Teachers are not encouraged to be authentic.  Schools are afraid of authenticity.  

Today's school curriculum is designed to teach to the test.  Every minute of instruction time is accounted for.  A classroom lesson plan must identify every teaching activity and match it up with a learning goal from the state curriculum.  The teacher is irrelevant.  The test is everything.  It doesn't matter if the teacher is authentic or not.

Regardless of what you do in life, you probably have to accomplish things.  Youth, adult, Scouter, businessman, or teacher - in all of those roles you have to accomplish things.  Though the article is written from the point of business the lessons are likely applicable to other roles.  As a person in business you have to accomplish corporate goals.  Perhaps as a teacher the task you have to accomplish is kids learning learning.  As a Scouter, it's inspiring youth to grow.

We've used the term authentic quite a bit in this topic.  In other articles it might be referred to simply by the phrase "connecting with people by being genuine".  By connecting with those you need to work with to accomplish things, you end up with a better likelihood of those people energetically working to accomplish those tasks.

22 hours ago, David CO said:

I think the same is becoming true of scouting.  Adult association is no longer considered desirable, except for that which is absolutely necessary for advancement and supervision.  Authenticity is unimportant.   Compliance is all that is needed.

In my years on this forum, I have heard many complaints about scout leaders not complying with the rules.  Usually advancement rules.  Sometimes YP rules.  I have yet to hear a single parent complain about a leader's authenticity.  They don't care about authenticity.  They just want the adults to sign their kids off on the requirements and give them their badges.

With the increase in rules in Scouting, I can see your point.  Again, being authentic isn't the goal.  The goals in Scouting are taking kids camping, helping them to grow, and yes - seeing that they earn badges.  Of course many parents couldn't care if you are authentic.  Yet, what parents do care about is how successful their kids are in Scouting - are they having fun, are they camping, are they advancing?  The more effective you are at leading the team, the more effective you will be at doing those things.  Being authentic is simply a way to more effectively connect with and in turn lead that team.

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22 hours ago, Eagledad said:

The followers Knew their limitations and wanted a leader that they could trust to get them there.

I've come to appreciate that someone's leadership ability is intrinsically linked to their own comfort in leading other people.  Many people are simply disinterested in making decisions for others.  There are many reasons for that - some easily addressed, some not.  One of the biggest factors I find in this is self-confidence.  A person who is full of self doubt and not confident in themself is less likely to be confident making decisions for others.

Yet, sometimes it's more ingrained than that.  For some, they simply enjoy the act of accomplishing tasks more than they do in leading teams.

I think this is what I've come to recognize in these sort of situations.  When you put 8 kids in a group and say - "Go", those youth who enjoy leading are going to take charge.  Those youth who enjoy being a team member are going to be team members.

I find that our role as Scouters is to give these kids the opportunity to discern what they enjoy and why they enjoy it.  Would they enjoy leading if they had the skills?  How do we orchestrate situations for the youth to develop enough self-confidence and learn enough skills for them to determine what they enjoy? 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Being authentic is simply a way to more effectively connect with and in turn lead that team.

Maybe I'm not getting my point across.  Let me give you an example.

Last year, my school administrator wrote 2 emails and sent them out to the parents.  She sent them out from my mailing address and signed my name to them.  The parents all thought I sent out the emails.  I didn't.  I didn't even agree with the thoughts expressed in the emails.  Yet my name is on them.  This is the opposite of authenticity.

An individual leader cannot be authentic if the institution they work/volunteer for won't let them be authentic.  This is true in education, and it is true in scouting.  The use of scripted lessons and pre-approved form letters is increasing.  Teachers and scout leaders are becoming more like actors, reading a script.  We are often seen as playing a role.  The kids are aware of this.

Kids often ask me if I really believe in the things I say, or if I'm just repeating what the school/church/troop wants me to say.  They are asking me if I am authentic.  It's a good question.

 

Edited by David CO

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30 minutes ago, David CO said:

Maybe I'm not getting my point across.  Let me give you an example.

Last year, my school administrator wrote 2 emails and sent them out to the parents.  She sent them out from my mailing address and signed my name to them.  The parents all thought I sent out the emails.  I didn't.  I didn't even agree with the thoughts expressed in the emails.  Yet my name is on them.  This is the opposite of authenticity.

An individual leader cannot be authentic if the institution they work/volunteer for won't let them be authentic.  This is true in education, and it is true in scouting.  The use of scripted lessons and pre-approved form letters is increasing.  Teachers and scout leaders are becoming more like actors, reading a script.  We are often seen as playing a role.  The kids are aware of this.

Kids often ask me if I really believe in the things I say, or if I'm just repeating what the school/church/troop wants me to say.  They are asking me if I am authentic.  It's a good question.

 

Ohh.  I understand better now.  

Yes, I would see that it would make it harder for you to be authentic is the organization is doing things in your name and creating a false persona.  I'm fortunate that I don't work in an environment that creates that hurdle for me.  While I do from time to time have to tow the corporate line, I always try to find a way to do so that is in keeping with my own voice.

I think we must Scout in very different councils.  I always look at the rules from national as simply "the rules".  The rules don't govern too much how I relate as a person to others.  So, I really don't feel all the controlled by the BSA.  I'm able to find a way to be me and place the rules of the BSA in context.  For example, all the G2SS restrictions have changed what we can allow Scouts to do on their own, but they don't change how I relate to them.

Perhaps that would be an input of mine to this discussion of authenticity.  You have to determine your own voice in all of this.  Yes, if the school/church/troop/BSA wants you to say something, you have to find a constructive way to support that request, yet do so in a way that keeps you true to your character.  One approach for that is to simply define those things as rules vs. your decisions.  i.e.,

  • "Scouts, the G2SS scouting rules require us to have two deep adult leadership on your hike this weekend, so make sure you factor that in.  Make sure you recognize that the adults are there simply in case something bad happens, so do not expect them to be in charge - this is your hike."

vs.

  • "Scouts, I want you to have two deep leadership on your hike this weekend, so make sure your factor that in."  

 

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53 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

So, I really don't feel all the controlled by the BSA. 

I do.  We should reject the whole concept of authenticity of leadership in BSA, and issue a disclaimer, much like the television networks do.  The statements expressed are solely the views of the BSA national council, and do not reflect the opinions of your scout leaders or your local Chartered Organization.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, David CO said:

I do.  We should reject the whole concept of authenticity of leadership in BSA, and issue a disclaimer, much like the television networks do.  The statements expressed are solely the views of the BSA national council, and do not reflect the opinions of your scout leaders or your local Chartered Organization.

 

Then why are you in scouting? If you are so utterly opposed the BSA National and its rules and authenticity (up to and I guess including Guide to Safe Scouting and YPT?) why stay?

I may not agreed entirely with everything national says but I will not stick a giant sign or disclaimer that says "The statements regarding Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection are solely the views of the BSA national council, and do not reflect the opinions of your scout leaders or your local Chartered Organization."

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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6 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Then why are you in scouting? If you are so utterly opposed the BSA National and its rules and authenticity (up to and I guess including Guide to Safe Scouting and YPT?) why stay?

Isn't it obvious?  I support my Chartered Organization.  I love and support my scouts.

Now, if you were to ask me why my Chartered Organization (and the Catholic Church in general) is still participating in a scouting organization that has totally rejected our moral beliefs, I can only respond with a shrug.  I have no idea.  I have said many times (on this forum) that I think my Church should pull out of BSA.  I wish it would.  But that's not my decision to make.

 

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