Authenticity in The Workplace – What Does That Mean to You?
My interest in the framing of the words’ vulnerability’ and ‘authenticity’ peaked when reading through the lens of the insightful author Brené Brown. If relationships strengthen through “authentic being” and communication, why can’t we create authenticity in the workplace using the same tools?
Once Again, A Healthy Workplace Pays Dividends
When employees and their leaders experience a sense of freedom to be themselves in the workplace, that is, to be genuine and authentic, their job satisfaction and overall positive engagement climb steadily upward. The bonus is that performance and productivity naturally improve as well.
Workplaces are better when served by sincerity than by calculated and false interactions. When an organization suffers from a counterfeit imitation of those who serve, the consequences can be dire. Slowly personal commitment erodes, and people lose the desire to be creative—the urge to go above and beyond expectations.
Authenticity and Connection
Authenticity in the workplace stimulates a work culture that encourages people to be more connected with themselves and each other. What follows, naturally, is a greater sense of community and loyalty toward the organization.
An employee true to themself is a happy employee. They experience higher job satisfaction and overall engagement.
I venture to say that the more of themselves that people comfortably share with others, the better their work experience is likely to be.
How to Recognize an Authentic Workplace Environment
We can define authenticity in the workplace as employees having the freedom to be who they indeed are, and feeling comfortable to do so.
For instance, rather than feeling the need to disguise the individual differences that make them unique, those very differences are welcomed and encouraged. A unique contribution is understood to contain the potential to make any organization an exceptional one.
That is all there is to it, and it isn’t as far-fetched as it may initially seem. Of course, as with anything, there are reasonable limits; the requisite diplomacy, tact, and open communication during difficult situations will always be the best path toward a solution.
Leadership Tips on Being Authentic
What follows are tips that both leaders, managers, and employees can adopt if they are looking to become more authentic in the workplace, to each other, and themselves.
- Show humility. Don’t be afraid to show that you are only human and that there will be times when you don’t have it all figured out. By showing you are not always perfect and are, in fact, uncertain about some things, will make you more trustworthy. That is right; people will trust you more when you admit to not always having all the answers or making the occasional mistake.
- Be consistent. Behave and speak in a way that aligns with your values and philosophy.
- Demonstrate a reliable, genuine version of yourself through actions and communication in the workplace. You will be impacting those around you, as well as influencing them. Your relationships, professional and personal, will benefit dramatically by a steady stream of authenticity.
You are basically walking the talk, not only for others but mostly for yourself.
- Really listen. This means exactly what it says. Taking furtive glances at your inbox while a subordinate is trying to express a genuinely upsetting situation is not truly listening. It may look like it, but you know it isn’t. In truth, it is not listening at all. By genuinely listening to what is said to you and reiterating it back in a thoughtful way, not only shows you have been present, but that you are also genuine in the presence and the attention you are showing the person in front of you.
- Express yourself. You are not merely following the crowd and expressing viewpoints expected by the status quo. Your individuality needs to come through and shine as often as the opportunity presents itself. Your uniqueness leads to unique solutions that are innovative and perhaps unexpected, even to yourself. When you are open about personal and professional values, you are also expressing, without restraint, your true self. You will make quick and trustworthy decisions based on your subjective views and standpoint.
- Encourage authenticity in others. Your authenticity will inspire others. By being your whole self, you attract others to your authenticity. People naturally take you seriously. They respect you for your passion and trustworthiness. By taking the lead on this, regardless of whether or not you are in a leadership position, others will inevitably follow. That is the beauty of being your authentic self: you will inspire others to be the same. If you find some people are timid or apprehensive about allowing their true self to emerge, then encourage them to do so.
An authentic workplace will shine
Any organization whose roster reads of open-minded individuals who are not afraid to bring their authentic selves into work each day will thrive. Any team whose foundation is the uniqueness of its parts is “a true force to be reckoned with.”
It’s not just your organization that will benefit from its inherent authenticity. Individuals will also experience increased life satisfaction and well-being, personal growth, a strong sense of resilience, and acceptance of others’ viewpoints. It is indeed a recipe for organizational and individual success.