Action Wheel Leadership

Authentic People; Authentic Organizations

by Tom Heuerman
(Fargo ND)

Bob Terry once said to me as we discussed leadership, “Sometimes I don’t have a clue as to how organizations change.” I chuckled when Bob said this because Bob was the deepest thinker about leadership and organizations that I’ve ever met. His authenticity comforted me in my own confusion about leadership and change.

My colleague Bob Terry wrote in Authentic Leadership: Authenticity is speaking, however dimly, to more and more of us, calling us to recognize the pervasiveness of the new inauthenticity. Something is not right and we sense that what is not right is expressing itself in many forms, from global issues to personal concerns. We have an intuitive sense of disconnection from the very institutions and people we believe we should be connected with.

The movement for the times in which we live is an inner journey that will transform the external world. The first stage in a movement happens when isolated people choose authenticity over living a divided life. This is a decision made courageously for the sake of personal integrity. Like all ventures into the unknown, the journey to authenticity begins with a few. Soon others will follow. Those who are first inspire those who come later. Each authentic life expresses nature’s potential for the whole.


I met Bob when I did my Ph.D. work in Leadership and Organizational Change. We struck up a friendship and met monthly for lunch or coffee and engaged in a couple of hours of animated conversation about authenticity, leadership, organizations, the books we were reading, and anything else that struck our fancy. Bob was always enthused, engaged, and excited about what he had learned recently.

I miss Bob. I learned from him and continue to do so through his written work. I am honored to contribute in a small way to his grand legacy.

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