“I know exactly who I am.” That was my immediate response.
Your response is probably very similar … and you could not achieve success in any area of your life without a certain degree of self-awareness and self-confidence. In my own experience, my confidence was strong until the day I reflected more deeply on the question about who I am. Why? Because I sensed many professionals often exude a presence that just seems fake. Is their self-awareness and self-confidence based in fact or is it just a facade?Being less than authentic is rarely intentional—it is just our feeble attempt at trying to speak to issues in a way that meets the need of the moment. Unfortunately, it often results in a reversal the next day, causing you to spout something very different. This is called “being a chameleon.” Here’s the danger: Others never get to know who you are or what your views and values are, despite how certain you may be about them. In politics and sports, we sometimes hear, “We just don’t know who’ll show up,” and this is a reference to a chameleon, someone who is not consistently one way or the other.
As the economic terrain becomes more treacherous, our instinct, of course, is survival. What must I project to stay alive, to keep my job, to get that promotion? The temptation, however, seems to be: do what is most expedient to achieve the desired outcome. While that may suffice in the short term, the far-reaching results are less than desirable. Most of us don’t realize the price we pay for being less than authentic. Remember when your mother told you to always tell the truth because you would not have to remember what you said?
Take that advice a step further. Don’t just tell the truth; be the truth. Be you. Being authentic alleviates the mental and emotional exercise of trying to remember who you are supposed to be in any given situation. Some professionals believe being authentic in the workplace is a risk—and often one they’d rather not take. Statistics back this statement. Only 50 percent of today’s workforce comes from a place of authenticity. It’s no wonder employees are often baffled by where the boss is coming from … or which version of their boss will show up from day to day.
Here are some questions to consider as you assess your authenticity as a leader and as a professional:
1. Do you give consistent messages regarding your goals for the team, or do you change directions mid-stream without fact-based reasons?
2. How often do you communicate your vision and passion for the business … in person, that is? Or are your employees supposed to “know that” because the mission/vision statement is framed on the wall?
3. When was the last time you openly asked for feedback? Or have you assumed all is well because the numbers say so?
Being authentic may make you vulnerable, but allowing your employees and colleagues to know your vision, your passion, your standards, and your expectations is a bottom line benefit. Being authentic results in fewer misinterpretations, fewer misunderstandings, and fewer mistakes. It frees you to be you and your employees to work within the framework you have clearly defined.
Ultimately, the most important benefit in knowing you are authentic—and being perceived as such—is that you have the complete trust of those around you. Take right now, as an example: Do you have the complete trust of those around you? Are you sure?
Trust is the cement of relationships.