The Mentor’s Message: Model Authenticity

model authenticity“You are Interstate Hotels and Resorts,” said Vice President Jill Kallmeyer at her all-managers conference. “So take personally every encounter with every guest and every associate. Your genuine passion is what attracts guests to our brand.” The words come from a woman renowned for her passion for the associates and customers and her “I’m so excited” spirit

Great mentors look for ways to add value “to every encounter.” Instead of shouting a correction, they inspire with a story. Instead of being quick to criticize, they assume the best and avoid assumptions. And, their “up close and personal” approach attracts passion for those around them. They are excitedly real.

Authenticity is a cornucopia of characteristics. It is vulnerability…a willingness to be without mask or pretense. It is openness…a stance of acceptance and invitation. It is humility…a position of modesty without any attention to self. Authenticity is the attitude that creates an atmosphere of emotional security for a protégé. In the presence of someone being completely genuine, there is no requirement for defensiveness or self-protection. It thus frees protégés to be who they are as they make a safe journey to becoming who they will be.

Margery Williams’ Velveteen Rabbit is a children’s book many parents share as a bedtime fairy-tale. The dialogue between the wise skin horse and naive rabbit contains great lessons for mentors. “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse to the rabbit. “It’s a thing that happens to you….It doesn’t happen all at once, you become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.” Realness comes through promoting others, not from preening self.

P.S. For more on authenticity in leadership, you might enjoy this recent article, Why Leaders Must ‘Get Real’ – 5 Ways To Unlock Authentic Leadership by Margie Warrell on Forbes.com

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