â€œâ€¦ example of backstage difficulties may be cited from the contingencies of being an exalted person. Persons may become so sacred that the only fitting appearance they can make is in the center of a retinue and ceremony; it may be thought improper for them to appear before others in any other context, as such informal appearances may be thought to discredit the magical attributes imputed to them. Therefore members of the audience must be prohibited from all the places the exalted one is likely to relax in.â€
Less fairy tale than fable about the consequences of collective hypocrisy, Andersenâ€™s story bears a message that has become a proverbial truthâ€¦ Choosing to ignore what is in plain sight and blindly acting as if there were nothing wrong are the targets of Andersenâ€™s satirical barbs. That it takes an â€œinnocentâ€ child to divine the truth that â€œHis Majestyâ€ is unable to discern is a reminder of the stultifying effects of social proprieties and the way in which culture and civilization produce duplicity and hypocrisy.
Most people can agree that authenticity is of great value. We’d rather be â€” or follow â€” a leader who is for real than one who is faking it. Acting in a way that feels truthful, candid, and connected to who you really are is important, and is a leadership quality worth aspiring to.
On the other hand, being who you are and saying what you think can be highly problematic if the real you is a jerk. In practice, we’ve observed that placing value on being authentic has become an excuse for bad behavior among executives. (more)