Transplant -1: Authentic

A favourite assignment on my masters two years ago was one that looked authentic leadership. It wasn’t because I have any love for the positive psychology movement and the cults it spawns, particularly through management gurus.

Instead, the assignment gave me an opportunity to critique it. There was one paper in particular that I read at the time that summed up the issue. Authentic leadership is designed to set the good of organisations above the personal good of the leader. Even if the leader is passing on bad news to their team, they are meant to find the positive side, as to not do so would be inauthentic to the organisation. Or some nonsense like that.

Of course, that approach has huge potential to damage leaders who, by being “authentic”, are actually being inauthentic about their true feelings. My advice to anyone seriously considering an authentic leadership programme in their organisation is simple – don’t fall for it. Transformational and transactional leadership approaches have all of the benefits with none of the personally damaging baggage.

That’s a long preamble to today’s missive, but I felt it necessary. Many people tell me I’m brave to be going through lymphoma treatment. Some days I do feel very positive, but it’s not really bravery. It would be inauthentic for me to believe that I’m brave, as the alternative to treatment is far worse.

So I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t have a tough day yesterday. I did. And today frightens twenty shades of crap out of me. I hope you can understand. There will be light at the end of the tunnel, I will get out of the hole … or whatever metaphor you feel comfortable with. But today, I just want to put it on record that it would be inauthentic for me to say everything will *definitely* be fine. It probably will be, but I simply need to acknowledge that realism, rather than fake authenticity, is more important to me right now.

Eeyore has no such problems. He’s found my blood pressure monitor and made a few adjustments to it. His stuffing pressure is just fine he tells me, but he can’t find his pulse. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he doesn’t have one. I told him to look on the bright side instead. But that’s just me, being authentic 🙂

Eeyore’s not worried about his stuffing pressure.

6 thoughts on “Transplant -1: Authentic

  1. Over my work career I’ve seen too many examples of ‘corporate authenticity’ – without exception they are seen through, usually in short order, precisely because they are myth rather than reality. Honesty by comparison begets trust.People are individuals first rather than corporate resources and relationships work sustainably when built on interpersonal trust. Trust is the greatest enabler for leadership to flourish – clear vision, strong people relationships and powerful communications are the factors but follower-ship evidences its success, lack of authenticity its failure

    No-one can doubt your own authenticity during the latest series of articles. The range of topics from affairs of state to the weather are compelling reading, great mirrors of what is occupying you, But just as much the vulnerabilities you have hinted at and left between the lines speak volumes for how you are showing us all THE way to be. No-one can relish being trapped in a cell (even if it does have a window), progressing with a highly complex and challenging treatment so you are bound to feel differently hour to hour as you bear with the progress and I have every sympathy for you. Remember you continue to be a great example for us all – keep you chin up (even allow the british stiff upper lip to wobble a but to release the tension), but keep looking forward and give Eeyore a squeeze now and again to make sure he keeps real too.

    You’re in my thoughts.


    1. Andrew, beautifully said. Tim knows (from the dreaded DD307) that communication is not a precision transmission of data but a co-production between the parties involved. Luckily for us he has very little control over how we receive and react to his wonderful writings! As someone fortunate enough not to be the one receiving treatment, reading Tim’s words feels like a very privileged opportunity to understand something of the process from a very human perspective. (It’s like reading an autobiographical phenomenological account, Tim – that’s an impressive feat of writing!)

      Tim, I’m reminded today of what is probably my favourite movie quote: “The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.” (Three Kings) So maybe you’re right and you’re not brave. But you’re becoming it. You’re getting an X-man transformation after all.


  2. You’re right – it’s hardly ‘brave’ to undergo treatment when the alternative is worse – but trying to look on the positive side IS. You could sit there and moan all day, but you aren’t doing. Keep your eyes on the end of the tunnel, and hopefully you’ll be there soon


  3. Hi Tim Just logged into your blog. Not sure why I haven’t before but hey ho Last time I was more interested in your adventures in GNU but now watchfully waiting on your progress
    We are going to see Emily’s preview at Primary on the 27th as us arty types do!
    Eeyore look well
    Remember “ Green is happiness”
    Love and prayers
    Simon and Lou x


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