Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Where's your True North?

One of the key leadership behaviours required to engage their people identified by Towers Perrin is authenticity.

This has been getting a great deal of interest recently.

In Authenticity, Pine and Gilmore, authors of the Experience Economy, argue that businesses / products need to be authentic, noting that consumers choose to buy or not buy based on how real they perceive an offering to be. And the Harvard Business Review has been asking whether outsourcing is killing authenticity.

Perhaps more relevant for HR folks are Rob Goffee’s and Gareth Jones’ Why Should Anyone Led You and and former Medtronic CEO, Bill George’s True North (see

This book shows how anyone who follows his or her internal compass can become an authentic leader. Someone who is genuine, true to what they believe in, and who can lead with consistent values; through their heart as well as their head.

This is the subject of a conversation I had with Invensys VP of Talent Management, Andrew Armes, recently. Andrew is one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met and puts this at the centre of his coaching and process development activities. In fact, for the sake of authenticity, Andrew is in the process of leaving Invensys to set up his own vehicle, Sixth Patriarch, an HR consultancy / executive search firm focused on unlocking individual and organisational performance through authentic awareness and behaviour.

For those of us who have more to do in this area, Bill George recommends creating a personal development plan centred on five key areas:

  • Knowing your authentic self

  • Defining your values and leadership principles

  • Understanding your motivations

  • Building your support team

  • Staying grounded by integrating all aspects of your life.

Not easy, but certainly worth doing, if we want to both get the sorts of business results we need, and to live our lives in a way that will make best use of our time on Earth.