Can you be authentic and be successful in business?
It’s sad to even have to ask such a question. To be authentic should be something desired by employers. Instead, we think employers want us to be “yes men” and not ask questions.
If you are in the corporate world, you often find yourself choosing between being yourself and being what you perceive your employer wants you to be. Let’s look at a couple of examples of not being authentic:
1. Tell the truth – How often has a group been asked in a meeting to give opinions? You know what happens. Everyone sits quietly with their eyes staring at the table in front of them. No one will speak up and say what is on their minds.
2. Evaluations – Providing quality, timely feedback to employees is vital to employee success and career enjoyment. Timely feedback in the form of project evaluations is fairly easy to do. However, providing quality feedback is not often provided. Why? Because people are afraid to hurt others’ feelings.
The issue with both of these examples above is that people are afraid to be authentic. They are scared of being honest. They fear the retribution that might come from saying something they think the boss does not want to hear.
A good leader wants to hear honest feedback from subordinates. If you do not feel like you can speak your mind (kindly, of course) without retribution, then one of two things is true. Either you are working for the wrong company or your fear is ungrounded.
In most cases, I firmly believe people, especially those in leadership positions, want to hear what others truly think. They want others to be authentic. Why are we all afraid to say what we think? If we want to affect change that we believe needs to be made, we need to speak up. If you give your thoughts with kindness and gentleness, you should not be afraid.
Speaking what we think is only one piece of what it takes to be authentic. We also need to act like ourselves. If you claim to be a Christian, make it evident by your actions. Just because it is “expected” for all your co-workers to drink at the holiday party does not mean you need to. Stand up for what you believe.
I want my team of employees to be themselves because different personalities all working together make for a better team. If everyone did the same things and had the same thoughts, we would get nowhere. We’d continue doing what we do now but never progress.
Stop thinking you have to act like your bosses or your co-workers. Dare to be yourself. Dare to be different. A mindless group of robots is not interesting but a single authentic person is. Don’t you want to be interesting? Don’t you want to be promoted? If you do, be yourself.
Will you be authentic? Will you act like yourself regardless of the situation? You might just be amazed at how much more you enjoy life when you do what you want rather than what you think is expected.