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Lessons from the Top: How successful leaders tell stories to get ahead - and stay there by Gavin Esler

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6 Authenticity and How to Fake It

‘I think most people who have dealt with me think I’m a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am.’

Prime Minister Tony Blair, 16 November 1997

‘BLIAR!’

Popular T-shirt following the invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on Blair’s often stated belief that Iraq possessed Weapons of

Mass Destruction. No WMD were found.

The search for ‘authenticity’ is not new. Nor is faking it. And, importantly, a leader practising a bit of fakery may not always be bad. There are plenty of examples from history, and from diverse cultures, of what Huckleberry Finn called ‘stretchers’: leaders exaggerating or changing some part of a story for their own benefit or that of their country or organisation. ‘Faking it’ may sometimes be justifiable. ...

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