This coming month at 100Ninjas we are exploring the idea of authenticity in business.
Be true to who you are! Find your True North! Be yourself! These are just some of the popular phrases we hear in our culture today. All of these expressions hint at the greater idea of being authentic. Authenticity is a popular buzzword in business, but what does it really mean? Does it actually matter? And is it truly possible to be authentic at work?
What Does it Mean to be Authentic?
Like the above expressions suggest, being authentic means being genuine and true to yourself. An authentic person knows who they are and they act accordingly. An authentic person is honest with themselves and others. They are self-aware and understand both what matters to them and how others perceive them. They understand that their words and actions have impact and take care to deliver them appropriately. Committed to growing, they aren’t afraid to experience new things that will shed light on their character. Self-disciplined, they don’t go with the crowd or act out of fear of being out of step with what is popular, but rather they listen to and prioritize their own inner voice. They aim to be excellent and not perfect and are unafraid to own up to their mistakes.
Why Authenticity Matters
Authenticity matters both in business and in leadership. Authentic leaders put others at ease. They aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. They allow both their strengths and shortcomings to be known, and as a result are more approachable and easier to relate to. They build trust and develop strong, committed relationships resulting in a more positive environment for everyone.
Your words and actions reflect the values you expect from your team. Your authenticity as a leader has the capacity to affect the company culture extending to the perception of the brand and leading to a better experience for employees, stakeholders and customers. Employees find it easier to develop deep meaningful connections with each other. Free from the pressure to maintain a perfect outer persona, employees feel comfortable admitting to needing help or to making mistakes. They generally feel happier and more fulfilled in a workplace that feels authentic.
Customers also want authenticity. They trust authentic brands, brands that do what they say they will do, treat customers respectfully, and communicate honestly and genuinely. Ultimately, authenticity helps customers connect with and develop passion for a brand.
The Possibility of Authenticity at Work
Leadership is a constant balance between authority and approachability, sometimes making it seem difficult for one to be authentic. Yet authenticity doesn’t mean disclosing all our secrets to one another! It also doesn’t mean that whatever enters into our minds must be said. Authenticity is about being aware of your environment, and acting appropriately. It’s about choosing the right place and time to reveal parts of yourself. Authenticity is about acting on your values and showing who you are as a person.
We hope you’ll join us this month at 100Ninjas as we continue to explore authenticity and its place in leadership and business. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for the latest great writing, tips, and insight on authenticity.