In an excellent article by Alessandro D’Avenia published yesterday on the Corriere della Sera website, the author analyses the tendency, imposed by social media, to socialise our own “biography” into a couple of words, often using emoji or abbreviation that are understandable by few.
There are many guidelines on how to write bios online, and often they suggest a segmentation of ways of writing.
However, this synthesis very rarely capture what we really are. The limitations (in characters, words or “length” of the text box we have, only delivers a portion of our own “self”.
We want to be “cool”, not necessarily real. And in doing so we are alienating the best part of being authentic.
This has led me to think that the reality of today’s life, immersed in Social Media, is not necessarily about building memories that can contribute to define ourselves. With our online presence, our selfies, our pictures on instagram, our appetite for “Likes”, we are following more and more a “promotional self”, rather than our true one.
What about Performance and Feedback?
Why is this relevant? Because also in a company environment, we start having issues in “defining” ourselves with truth and realism. Which is one of the big issues of processes such as Performance Management where self-reflection is a requirement for a positive result of the process itself. Many have concentrated their focus on the fact that recent technologies have got us used to the “instant feedback”; and have tried to implement this into tools and processes that are substituting the yearly cycles with quicker feedbacks.
Let’s be clear: continuous feedback is a must in a healthy and performing culture. Issue arise if all what we want to get are “likes” for what we do and our time horizon becomes the 24 hours span of an Instagram story.
Results can be worrying: we start preferring short term exposure to longer effort in achieving results. We might hide concerns, issues, concerns to our peers and managers, until these explode, maybe into a much broader problems (read burnout for example). Performance as a whole is at risk.
The risk with Authentic Leadership
All of the above leads us to another big concern: if one of the key attributes of Leadership is authenticity, how exactly can we build the next generation of leaders without this key attribute? Which is one that is developed through introspection, exploration of one’s life, active listening and continuous internalisation of feedback.
The process of learning, growing, and developing an integrated self is a process of construction and meaning–making.
Probably a short bio on Instagram with a couple of emojis will not tell the full truth of a person. And it is not required to do so. But as leaders of our organisations we need to make sure that all of our team-mates are able to reflect on their self a lot more than what we normally allow them to do. We need to ask people to be more authentic, giving them the tools to do so.
Because after all, we will never be able to accept a “read in bio” answer from our next leader.