Passing The Authenticity Test
What can you tell me about yourself?
Note that this question doesn’t address all the qualities and qualifications that might make you an exemplary global executive. Rather, this is the kind of simple, straightforward question that potential clients and buyers sometimes ask to explore who you really are, what you’re committed to, and what you prioritize in business and in life, too.
There comes a time in all, early-stage business relationships when the other person wants to park business to the side and engage with you personally to determine what kind of person you are and how he or she may relate to you.
Your response to that question, and even your body language and tone of voice while doing so, may well determine whether you pass this prospective business partner’s or customer’s litmus test for authentic leadership. The funny thing is, at this point, winning the sale or cementing a bond with a potential new customer has far less to do with your business and far more to do with who you are as a person, including your likeability, conversational charm, wit and genuineness.
Sometimes, this kind of question elicits a response filled with business data, chatter about clients and numbers of offices, and in other instances, it opens up dialogue that neither party had foreseen.
There has been recognition in recent years – in the form of acclaimed business books and unflattering business news headlines, too – that some business leaders are jerks in the office and away from the office, too.
This has moved some global organisations to engage in a search for highly talented business leaders who are also really nice people armed with self awareness, emotional intelligence and the humility that both require.
This is, after all, one of the best ways to defend unique corporate cultures that have been built – along with their brands and reputations – over the course of many years, and which might be easily toppled if some of the wrong people were to squirrel their way into key management roles.
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