Authentic Influence

By Kevin Cashman

This article was originally published in Caring Magazine; volume 22, no. 04, Winter 2016/2017. 

What is authentic influence?  It is the true voice of the leader, and when we speak it from our character, it creates trust, synergy, and connection with everyone around us.  Authentic influence is not simply refining our presentation style; it’s deeper than that.  Some of the most authentic leaders I know stumble around a bit in their delivery, but their words come right from their hearts and experiences.  You feel their conviction and the integral connection of who they are and what they say.  As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”

Authentic influence is about straight talk that creates value.  It’s not about hurting people with bluntness or insensitivity.  Expressing yourself authentically is sharing your real thoughts and feelings in a manner that opens up possibilities, and sometimes it’s the most difficult messages that can open up the most possibilities if shared in a thoughtful, compassionate manner.  Influencing authentically is what one CEO I know calls “caring confrontation”– the unique blend of straight talk with genuine concern for people.  Like many leaders, my CEO friend had been uncomfortable with such interaction for years.  As his career progressed, he realized, “Real caring involves giving people the tough feedback they need to grow.”

Carl Jung said it this way:  “To confront a person in his shadow is to show him the light.”

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