19 Jul You Do You: Being Authentic in the Workplace
I am one of those people who thrive on being authentic. Pretty much a “What you see is what you get” kind of gal (which, I admit, gets me in trouble sometimes). I don’t do BS and I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I praise those who deserve it & offer constructive feedback to those who could use it. I am this person at both work and home, and that is the essence of authenticity.
Being authentic means being who you are, no matter the circumstance. It calls for aligning your beliefs and values with your actions. It means not leaving a part of your personality or style at home when you enter the office.
What does authenticity look like?
You are genuine and honest
You stay true to, and stand up for, what you believe
You know and admit your shortcomings
You admit when you’re wrong or when you’ve failed
You have the courage to be vulnerable
You aren’t hiding behind any kind of “mask”
You refuse to compromise on your principles
You are interested in empowering others & seeing them succeed
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of person I want on my team! So, why are so many leaders, employees, and business owners seemingly so “IN-authentic?”
The problem with Authenticity is that IT ISN’T ALWAYS EASY!
Here are the stumbling blocks I see to people being truly authentic, and how to overcome them.
Not establishing your own personal brand
Each of us are unique. Each of us bring to the table a special set of qualities and skills. Yet, so many try to hide their uniqueness. It is important you let others see you as you are (unless, of course, you are a total tool!). This requires knowing yourself first. What is your personality – are you introverted or extroverted? What is your communication style – are you formal or casual?
The key is to be the SAME person at work (or as close to it) as you are at home. Are you fun & casual outside the office, yet stodgy and uptight once you walk through the door? Do you speak in a casual and friendly tone when chatting with your co-workers in person, yet your emails or written correspondence sound like a legal briefing? Do you act like a total prude at the office, yet are a complete party animal on the weekends? As trivial as those examples may seem, inconsistencies with these type of things can cause others to perceive you as inauthentic.
Remember….Consistency is key. Be who you are, and be it all the time!
Not understanding your weaknesses
I am a huge fan of the Strengthsfinder series of books, and in so, feel it important that we all know and focus on using and developing our unique strengths. At the same time, it is critical we know the things we are NOT good at. Not so we can work on our weaknesses (I am of the school of thought that if you work on your weaknesses, at the end of the day you will simply end up with a stronger weakness….it will likely never turn into a strength).
The more important thing is for us to KNOW where we need help – and to be vulnerable enough to ask for it! Truly authentic leaders have a very good handle on what they are good at, and what they are not — and they hire to and surround themselves with people who are a compliment to that.
Letting egos get in the way
I know I will tick some people off with this one, but it’s time to put on your big boy (or big girl) pants and deal with the fact that you are, in fact, NOT perfect! And, that is OKAY! It saddens me how often I see egos getting in the way of doing what is right for clients, or companies. Often this ties into the fact that someone does not want to admit they have a weakness, or that they may not be the “best” person for the job.
If you hear yourself repeatedly saying “Oh, I can do that” or “Why do we need him/her?” (when you know it’s not an area of strength for you) — then chances are your ego is starting to creep in! OWN UP to the fact that maybe, just maybe, it is in a clients best interest to let someone else step in. Always look for the best possible outcome – not just the one that involves Y-O-U.
Afraid to give feedback or to challenge people when needed
Some are hesitant to give feedback or to challenge someone, especially if that person is “higher up” than they are. The key is to CARE enough to deliver sound feedback in a way that is constructive, and not made to put the recipient down.
I am a super busy business woman…I don’t need or have time for a “yes man.” I need someone who will call me on my bullshit & keep me moving towards growth. And, most authentic leaders feel exactly the same.
Being too pragmatic
Often, professionals say or do what is required to continue moving up the ladder, or to not upset the apple cart. This isn’t authentic….this is being a puppet. Ask yourself — how fun is it going to be spending the rest of my career holding everything in?
While all should be aware of the what it takes to get to the next level in our business or career, this should NOT be done by compromising our beliefs, or concealing our feelings.
Authenticity begins by knowing ourselves – what we excel at, and where we need help. How we communicate and how we can best interact with others. It means knowing what we believe in and not compromising on those things.
Above all, authenticity means letting people see and get to know the real you. Give it a try – it’s far better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not!