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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year Is the Best So Far for Improving Your Leadership

In a world plagued by A.I. deepfakes and disinformation, the word of the year is a lesson in good leadership.

Merriam-Webster has announced "authentic" as its word of the year for 2023. It's an overused buzzword that has lost its meaning, sure, but considering the current era of artificial intelligence and misinformation, where the distinction between what's real and what's fake has become increasingly ambiguous, it's not a bad choice.

Being authentic is crucial, especially in leadership and human interaction. Unfortunately, sometimes, we choose to hide our true selves to achieve a specific outcome. We wear a mask and try to impress others by working the room.

You might have heard the phrase "fake it till you make it." However, this approach leads to short-term gains. It can have severe consequences that damage your reputation and relationships.

Perhaps we put up a front because we're afraid. We might fear failure or feel ashamed of our true identity or that we've been playing a role in life until now.

By being real with yourself, dropping the masks, and walking in the path of authenticity, you'll soon notice a drastic difference in who you attract and how others treat you.

It won't be easy, but life will dramatically shift in a powerful and positive direction. Here are six benefits of being authentic:

1. You gain trust 

When you're true to yourself, you trust not only the judgments and decisions that you make but also gain the trust of others. They'll respect you for standing by your values and beliefs. 

2. You do the right thing

When you're authentic, you also have integrity. You don't hesitate to do the right thing, so you never have to second-guess yourself. Who you are, what you do, and what you believe in--all of these align perfectly.

3. You confront issues quicker

When you're real with yourself and others, you have the strength and openness to deal with problems quickly instead of procrastinating or ignoring them altogether. This is the path of healthy conflict management. Good leaders know they must have the courage to face it head-on and hold crucial conversations to get to a resolution. 

4. You become more emotionally honest

It's important that leaders be genuine and open about their emotions. This can be shown through statements like "I'm not sure what direction we should take as a team in this situation. I need some guidance from you (team members)." This creates an environment of honesty and authenticity, which should be modeled and encouraged by leaders in organizations. If you're in a management position, being emotionally honest and authentic sets an example for your team members to do the same, leading to stronger connections and more sincere conversations.

5. You raise your self-confidence

Authentic leaders trust themselves to make the right decisions when they're being genuine and doing the right thing. In turn, this leads to higher self-confidence and self-esteem, greater optimism, and more life satisfaction.

6. You leverage humility as a strength

Humble leaders achieve greatness without arrogance. They have the ability to shift their focus from ego to humility, which can drastically alter the outcome to their advantage. Being humble is the key to initiating meaningful conversations and learning about other people's work, how they do it, and why. People generally like to talk about themselves, and authentic leaders are humble enough to allow them to do so. 

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