Authenticity is a vastly overused term in today’s organizations, and may have lost its edge as a result. But it stands for something powerful and rare. If you think you’ve achieved it, you’re probably underestimating its meaning. For all but the rarest of great leaders, authenticity is an aspirational value. Authenticity is the currency of trust. We instinctively trust people who we deem to be real, genuine, and sincere. Those who are transparent with their weaknesses, who have the courage to be vulnerable, and who admit their mistakes honestly are far more likely to gain our trust than those who try to project an image of perfection. And yet authenticity is a challenge, for all of us. Authenticity is not something we ever fully achieve. It is a lifelong battle—a war fought both inside and outside ourselves. Why is this so hard? In part, it is because from a very young age, our culture actually encourages us to be somewhat inauthentic. We’re socialized to suppress our emotions, to project the images we think others want to see, and to fit in rather than stand out. We live in a world that tries to seduce us into forsaking who we really are for someone who others tell us we should be. Be sexy. Be nice. Be tough. Be a winner.
– Gregg Thomson , The Master Coach