What is your level of authenticity?

Today is March 1 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “what is your level of authenticity?” The latest findings suggest those who navigate the chaos of leadership best have a high degree of self-awareness.

In January 2018, Harvard Business Review published research on the 40% of CEOs who have MBAs. Studies have found that leadership based solely on MBA-trained logic is not always enough for delivering long-term financial and cultural results. Such an approach is often detrimental to an organization’s productivity. In one study researchers divided a group of 440 high profiled CEOs into two groups — those with an MBA and those without one — and then monitored their performance for up to seven years. Surprisingly, the performance of those with an MBA was significantly worse.

Another study, published in the Journal of Business Ethics, looked at the results of more than 5,000 CEOs and came to a similar conclusion. MBAs are indeed useful in leading an organization; but the linear MBA-trained logic should not come at the cost of other skills, like self-awareness and understanding others and the culture. Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, says that self-awareness is the starting point of leadership. Self-awareness is the skill of being aware of our thoughts, emotions, and values from moment to moment. Self-awareness allows us to lead both ourselves and our organizations with authenticity and integrity.

As Pema Chödrön wrote “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” Self-awareness is necessary for leaders as well as actors like James Gandolfini.

American actor and producer James Gandolfini used acting as a way to explore authenticity and increase his self-awareness. Gandolfini attended Rutgers University in New Jersey and graduated with a degree in communications. When he was 19, Gandolfini's girlfriend of two years died in a car accident.

He mentioned her in accepting his third Emmy for his role as Tony Soprano in the HBO show Sopranos, in 2003. “I might not have done what I've done" without her death, he told GQ, adding that the experience led him to seek a release through acting. He would later describe the reason he acts as to "vomit my emotions out of me."

What do you do to help yourself relate to your authenticity?

Acting allowed Gandolfini to vomit the emotions out of him. How often do you have the courage and respect to look at yourself with honesty and integrity in order to practice self-awareness? Only then can you effectively lead your life as well as your organization.

How do you vomit your emotions?