Yes, good leaders are authentic leaders — but here’s what that actually means


This post is part of TED's "How to Be a Better Human" series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here. This is by Herminia Ibarra.

I've been counting how often the word authenticity appears in the business press, either in headlines or in lead paragraphs, and its use has exploded over the last decade or so.

If you go on Amazon, you can find over 40,000 books on how to be more authentic. Clearly, we have a problem if we have to spend so much money just to be ourselves. But the cost, as I see it, is not just to our pocketbooks.

I've come to conclude that the way we think about authenticity poses a real danger to our capacity to grow and learn.

Let me explain. I teach at London Business School, and I've researched people who come to what I call "what-got-you-here-won't-get-you-there moments". Those are the moments when you realize that whatever made you successful in the past or got you there will not make you successful going forward and might even get in your way. Continue...