When Authenticity Isn't the Best Idea

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Is "being yourself" overrated?

The latest in Dori Meinert's Executive Briefing" column in SHRM's HR Magazine is "How to Act Like a Leader: Why ‘be yourself’ isn’t the best advice for a new leader" argues that being yourself can actually hold emerging leaders back from becoming leaders. Meinert talks to Herminia Ibarra, author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015). Ibarra is also a professor of organizational behavior and leadership who leads the leadership transition program for executives at France-based international business school INSEAD.

Ibarra's thesis is a "fake it 'til you make it" one. Before you can be a leader, you have to learn to behave like one. As a career strategist for lawyers, I regularly discuss forward-thinking and modeling with my coaching clients, whether they're learning to network at a bar association conference or learning to re-cast their work history in a different light.

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Ibarra's three classic tips work for emerging leaders in any industry--including law:

  • Redefine your job.
  • Diversity for network.
  • Be more playful with your sense of self.