I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the relationship between credibility and authenticity.
When I first started my journey into authenticity I researched the dictionary definitions of what it means to be authentic. What I found was pretty consistent.
Almost every dictionary I researched defined authenticity as genuine, trustworthy and credible. I have used these definitions myself, however my definition of authenticity began to alter a bit about a year ago.
This was when the presidential elections were coming into full swing and the issue of whether candidates were authentic or not was part of the national conversation.
I even wrote a newsletter last year about the difference between being authentic and being an authentic leader. At that time, I was studying authentic leadership and its relationship to self-awareness. The conclusion I drew is that a person can be authentic yet not be an authentic leader, especially if they lacked self-awareness which is a vital component of authentic leadership.
Now I have to examine if credibility is truly a component of authenticity. This has come up as a result of the current news stories about the credibility of our current President. I have to ask myself the question again, is our President authentic or not, especially since his credibility is now in question.
I’m not sure I have an answer for this relationship between credibility and authenticity. Again, I did some research.
What I found is that the link between credibility and authenticity has to do with trust. Authenticity is an implied component of trust, while credibility relies on trust. A person can be authentic yet not be credible. Think about Bernie Madoff who was extremely authentic in his quest to relieve people of their hard-earned money. But he was not credible.
So I’m looking at revising my definition of authenticity to exclude credible. I applaud our President for his ability to be authentic in everything that he does. However, I am saddened that the awareness of this leads me to consider removing credibility as a component of the authenticity definition.
When people ask me what I mean by authenticity, I include two aspects that are not in the dictionary. One is that being authentic means having concern for the common good. The other is that from a self-awareness perspective, authenticity also means knowledge of personal gifts and talents. It is through our gifts and talents that our authenticity is expressed.
I’m still grappling with this definition and how I may alter it regarding use of the word credibility.
I’m wondering, what do you think? How are credibility and authenticity linked? Is a person who is authentic also assumed to be credible or do you see these as separate issues?
Feel free to reply to this email and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your feedback.
With Love and Authenticity,