Last week, I hosted my first Virtual Connect session, under the Inspired Leadership Development banner, talking about ‘Bringing your Authentic self to the workplace’. I kicked off by sharing some of my own story and experiences with hypothetical ‘crows’ that judged aspects of my persona and how it required not only courage, but intentional relabelling in my mind. I use the phrase “shoot the crows” to describe how we need to stop negative labels and comments from entering into our minds and limiting ourselves. We need to narrate our own stories. It was important for me to be thoughtfully authentic without letting negative experiences or labels from the past inform the present.
Many view authenticity to be about presence and staying true to oneself. My favourite definition is by Brene Brown who states that “To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.”
We explored the characteristics of authenticity as 5 main constructs:
- Be True to Yourself
- Think Inward, Look Outward
- The Way You Treat People (Kindness and Respect)
- Live in the Moment and Be a Great Listener
- Open-Mindedness and Fairness to Opportunities & People
Participants shared how it is not always easy for us to show up as our authentic true selves, especially at work. And that it takes commitment, intention, and courage for leaders to create environments that are conducive. It also brought to light that some people’s authentic and true self is not a persona many appreciate. Thus, the question is, how do we handle such situations. My answer to that is based on an HBR article titled ‘Leadership That Gets Results’ by Daniel Coleman, where he focuses on Situational leadership and highlights that the most effective leaders use a collection of distinct leadership styles—each in the right measure, at just the right time. So, even if you are by nature limited in certain aspects you can learn, and oscillate between various leadership styles, as and when needed.
This led to a discussion about the consequences, if any, of not practicing authenticity. Participants raised the points that when we don’t bring our whole selves to work, or business, we suffer – lack of engagement, lack of productivity, and our well-being is diminished. We aren’t able to do our best, most innovative work, and we spend and waste too much time trying to look good, fit in, and do or say the “right” thing. We need to constantly manage those ‘crows’ that make us fear being judged by colleagues or family/friends so as not to sacrifice in order to be seen as professional, competent and successful.
However, to truly succeed in business and in life, you need to be willing to bring your best self to what we do. This means showing up authentically, leading people with humility and respect, and remembering that we’re all vulnerable, imperfect human beings doing the best we can. It’s also about having the courage to take risks, speak up, ask for help, and connect with others in a genuine way, allowing ourselves to be seen. The good news is that, if you are willing to bring your whole self to work, you can expand the impact, influence, and success of your work and your life…and help others do the same.
Keen to get your input into what you think regarding authenticity. Share in the comments below.
Also look out for my next session which will discuss Trust and Delegation. There will also be a repeat of the Authenticity session during June, in case you missed last week’s session. Regularly check Inspired leadership Development Events page for the schedule of virtual engagements. www.inspiredleadership.world/wp/events