Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.
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Many people choose to conform in the workplace, fearing that they will be judged or mocked for not fitting in. This self-doubt leads many of us to hide our real selves and put on a corporate persona. Conforming to corporate norms may help you feel accepted, but holding back your authenticity will limit your performance. If you want to succeed at work, learning to be comfortable in your own skin will go a long way. Authenticity in the workplace comes from embracing our vulnerabilities and using them to challenge ourselves. When you lead an authentic lifestyle, you live without pretense or fear. You express who you are and what you believe in. That takes real courage.
What is Authenticity at Work?
Showing up authentically at work means feeling comfortable expressing yourself and voicing your opinions without fear of judgment. Authenticity at work begins with a sense of belonging and feeling safe in the workspace. A heightened sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance is required.When you are authentic at work, you can expect to receive feedback from your coworkers about your performance. This transparency allows you to work with people who will help you grow into a self-reflective, encouraging environment. Authenticity adds a layer of purpose to the most mundane tasks and helps us perform them with clarity and passion.However, this does not mean abandoning all professional barriers. Workplace authenticity requires responsibility and integrity. Being an open book and unfiltered commentator isn’t positive authenticity in the workplace. Be authentic by understanding and valuing the goals and attitudes of those around you. Develop trust to achieve successful outcomes in your work-related relationships.
Why is it Important to Bring Your Authentic Self to Work?
Being authentic at work can be intimidating initially. After all, we’re encouraged to put our best foot forward in the office, but best doesn’t always coincide with being authentic. If you're in a leadership position, you might wonder whether being your authentic self is worth the risk of affecting your workplace relationships. By practicing authenticity on the job, you can bring positive values to your team, such as:
- Job Satisfaction
Workplace authenticity creates a deeper sense of purpose in your work. When you express your true self, you help bring the workplace into every employee's life. When employees view their work as an authentic and trustworthy pursuit, they find satisfaction in completing it. Such engagement will continuously inspire and challenge them, which will usher in higher levels of happiness.
- Strong relationships
Successful leaders know that their team can't reach its full potential without strong relationships among the individual members. The conversations are more honest and a sense of trust develops between colleagues. Strong relationships create stronger teams.
- Drive for success
You perform better at work when you are able to be yourself and pursue what you love. This authentic commitment to your job fuels the passion and determination to achieve goals faster. Working in a progressive and mentally elevated space will also motivate you to do your best work.
With no effort to conceal your true nature or personality, you accept your identity at work. Your values and inner beliefs shape your identity, allowing you to make decisions faster and stand by what you believe in. This will make you more confident in your judgment, which will add value to your leadership, as well as your skills at innovation.
How can you Foster a Culture of Authenticity in your Organization?
I believe that authenticity is a culture, not just a practice. Every culture grows from active effort and positively impacts everyone in its environment. Instead of guiding my team members to be expressive, authentic, and nonjudgmental, I focus on creating an environment where each member feels supported and encouraged to participate. If you’re on the path to expressing your authentic self, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Self-reflect and accept your weaknesses
Accepting the existence of flaws is the first step to bringing about any change. Once you acknowledge your weaknesses, you set yourself free from other people's expectations. It gets easier to take remedial steps once you know what needs to be rectified.
- Trust the process
Be aware that authenticity is an ongoing process. You can’t decide to bring your true self to work, and then expect the transformation to be complete overnight. It’s a journey with conscious changes in habits, and it takes time to fully evolve as a personality trait.
- Draw strength from authenticity
It's exhausting to pretend to be someone you're not. When you get comfortable with your authentic identity, you bring your unique ideas and perspectives to the table. This accelerates job satisfaction and performance greatly.
- Support diversity
Leaders can set strong examples by supporting diversity and emphasizing every team member’s right to be different. By creating an environment where you encourage authenticity and differences, employees feel free to accept their identity. In addition, foster harmony by sharing positive conversations with your employees.
- Openly communicate
When you make every team member feel welcome and accepted, it motivates them to put forth dedicated hours to your work. Practicing civil discourse is my go-to tool to foster healthy communication habits in my team. Even if people disagree, they communicate respectfully. This is a major step toward creating an authentic workplace culture.
How Leaders Take Part in Promoting Authenticity
To change at work, look to your leadership. The best leaders set an example by showing up authentically. If you want your teams to be more authentic, you need to take responsibility and be authentic.
- Share a few aspects of your personal life with your team. You can also relate these stories to company values and encourage open discussions on value systems.
- Accepting your mistakes in front of your team is a great way to earn their trust and show them you're human. When you project authenticity into work, your team will be more inspired to be open and honest as well.
- Be a leader who models behavior that ensures no one feels discriminated against on any grounds. Be available with empathy so your team can reach out to you directly for any concerns.
- Build a psychologically safe workplace where every team member can be themselves. Use positive reinforcement to let people know they can speak freely and openly.
- Take time to create a personal connection with your team members. Take time to ask about their lives outside of work and show an interest in what they do.
The bottom line is: Create opportunities for your team to be authentic. Don't restrict them to their job roles. Encourage creativity. Once you are authentically empowered, you can create a workplace that's full of creative energy. With a little guidance, you can create an authentic workplace that brings out the best in everyone.