Authenticity is a buzzword today - and for good reason! Think about this for a minute... What if we make it way more complicated than it needs to be? I think we can boil it down to a very straightforward concept of just being yourself, consistently. We know ourselves more than anyone else, so the concept should be pretty simple!
The antithesis (big word, I know) of authenticity is being fake, phony, forced, disingenuous, insincere, untrustworthy, and dishonest. As leaders, we don’t want to associate with any of these.
In leadership, authenticity looks like:
· Weaving your values in and through everything we do
· Transparency and honesty (even when you make mistakes or fall short)
· Curiosity - asking a lot of questions
· Asking for help
What are the benefits/advantages of being authentic?
· Increased confidence, engagement and happiness, which in turn leads to more productivity in the workplace (read more on that here).
· Authenticity breeds authenticity! It's contagious.
· Keeps us consistent (are you seeing a pattern here?)
· Authenticity and honesty hold us accountable to one another
If you’re reading this and thinking hmm… I have not been leading as my authentic self, how could I possibly start now? Or for those of us who just need to be reminded how we can lead more authentically, I would say:
1. To be true to your own set of values and desires, you first need to know what those are. I encourage you to evaluate those, both professionally and personally. Ask yourself what you want to be known for.
2. Addressing your team about these changes could be beneficial! Admitting that you haven’t been leading with authenticity in itself kicks off authenticity! (*see list above about honesty with mistakes/shortcomings)
3. Remember there is a difference between authenticity and airing your dirty laundry to everyone around you! Use discernment to determine when, what, and with whom you share.
4. Don’t follow the crowd. There is only one of you for a reason!
5. Speak honestly. As Mark Twain said, “Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.”
6. You’ve likely heard Sarah quote this before, but don’t believe everything you think. Sometimes we tell negative stories about ourselves. Don’t believe them!
7. Prioritize time with God and learn more about His truth and who you are in Him.
8. Prioritize time with yourself. Learn more about who you are so you can more easily share with others.
When you spend time with people who are unapologetically themselves, you feel more connected to them. Are you ready to give grace and be understanding and get excited to show up as your own self? Get on out there! The world needs you to just be yourself, consistently.
I’ll leave you with these wise words from Simon Sinek on the matter:
“Authenticity is about imperfection. And authenticity is a very human quality. To be authentic is to be at peace with your imperfections. The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don't know. The great leaders can't do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. Great leaders don't see themselves as great; they see themselves as human.”