Authenticity and Integrity

Authenticity and Integrity

What is Inside the “Black Box” of Leadership?

Authenticity is a core value of the LOHAS marketplace. Integrating sustainability and ethics with goals of growth and profitability is essential for the long term success of the market.

“Consumer sentiment has reached a tipping point and there is a significant portion of the buying public making purchasing decisions based on ingredients, impact, manufacturing practices & company ethics.  Those buying decisions impact how people drive, and eat, watch and invest.” — Brad Warkins Editor LOHAS Journal Spring 2005.

Integrating these values into the day to day workings of organizations is difficult, and the LOHAS companies that learn to master this integration will be the enterprises that grow and prosper.  What are the critical factors that will create the great LOHAS companies of the future?  We can look for some answers in the research on conventional companies. 

From Good to Great

In Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, he and his team investigated 1,435 companies within the Fortune 500 and found eleven that made the shift from “good to great” based on cumulative stock returns.    One critical factor of the great companies is that all eleven had executives that were “Level 5” leaders. The book likens the pursuit of identifying how a company goes from good to great to deciphering what’s inside of a black box.  One of the many components within the black box “is yet another black box – namely the inner development of a leader to Level 5”.

A key question asked in the book is “can you learn to be a Level 5 leader?”  Jim Collins does not propose that we develop a “Ten-Step List to Level 5” and instead suggests that we watch what Level 5 leaders actually “do”. He does believe that there are people who have the capacity to develop into a Level 5 leader “under the right circumstances – self reflection, conscious personal development, a mentor, a great teacher, loving parents, a significant life experience, a Level 5 boss…”  

Inside the “Black Box” of Inner Development

Business and leadership training has been focused almost exclusively on external measures of achievement, with little attention to cultivating our inner capacities of intelligence, intuition, wisdom and compassion. In the LOHAS world there is an opportunity to truly integrate core human values into how we lead, and many believe that we need to rediscover and reconnect with our inner capabilities and lead from that place if we are going to meet the challenges inherent in today’s world.  

Authentic Leadership

There is a growing movement called “Authentic Leadership” that directly addresses the inner development of leaders. In addition to a book entitled Authentic Leadership by Bill George, former CEO of Medtronics, there is work being done at a number of institutions including the University of Michigan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Naropa University.  Naropa University has developed a model for its Authentic Leadership program that employs an integrated approach.  The design combines training in traditional business skills with work that cultivates the inner dimensions of leadership. Three competency areas are emphasized throughout the program, supported by coaching and “action learning” projects in the workplace. The three competencies are authentic presence, skillful communication, and effective action. 

Authentic Presence/Self Awareness

Authentic presence is the starting place for us as leaders — it is the ground of individual authenticity.  We all possess it, but sometimes it is difficult to see or experience because of anxiety and fixation on the past or the future.  By settling into the present moment and relating with what is actually occurring, we can let go of defensiveness and accept responsibility.  Current leadership research shows that credibility, genuineness and authenticity are important characteristics that followers want from their leaders.  However, authenticity is not just an end state, but a journey in itself.  It means being willing to take risks and be completely present in a situation.  It also means learning more deeply about the things that really matter to us and sharing our aspirations and dreams with others. 

Relationships/Skillful Communication

Skillful communication helps us expand our sense of well-being and trust in the world around us.    It starts with accepting full responsibility for all of our interactions, and then looking for ways to strengthen our relationships.  Skillful communication utilizes specific methods such as self-disclosure, inquiry and conflict resolution.  Developing emotional intelligence and learning to appreciate different styles and expressions helps leaders enhance relationships and coordinate complex tasks and projects.  This approach fosters a highly creative and highly committed organizational culture. 

Effective action/Leading Change

Effective action can’t take place without the preparation of authentic presence and skillful communication. Companies are in constant processes of change and adaptation, and leading successful initiatives requires more than following the steps of the latest change theory. Authentic leaders create a culture of commitment that inspires full engagement and unconditional responsibility in individuals and teams.  Out of this complete engagement comes actions that are intelligent (or strategic) and compassionate (or empathetic). Organizations that learn how to approach change in this way are more resilient and capable of adapting to new conditions with enthusiasm and commitment. 

Bios of contributors:
Susan Skjei, MS, is President of SaneSystems, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational change and leadership development. Formerly  a Vice-President and Chief Learning Officer in high-tech manufacturing,  she now designs and facilitates participative approaches to strategic planning and organizational change.

Lyn Ciocca McCaleb, MBA, is President of  Wellness Resources a market research company that focuses on the natural products and functional food industries.  Lyn’s twenty plus years in marketing blends classical consumer package goods and entrepreneurial experiences.  She has advised companies in strategic planning, marketing research, new products as well as business and marketing plan development. 

Mark Wilding, MA, is Director of the Marpa Center, and has worked in various capacities at Naropa University for the past ten years including Director of Advancement and Human Resources and Systems Officer. In 1985 he helped found a public computer software company and served in several roles until he left as president in 1993.