For most people, authenticity is one of the most important attributes to have in life and in business. Bringing your whole self to your work and being you no matter what group of people you’re with can be a really powerful tool in any organisation. If someone seems like a phoney, how do you react to them and would you want to work alongside them?
A large part of authenticity is about being honest. How can we make sure that this comes across in both the work that we do and how we act as people? Being honest with ourselves is the first step. Henry David Thoreau said ‘Be yourself, not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be’. It may seem hard but doing what you believe in and what you feel is right rather than what you think others feel you should be doing leads you to a more genuine working relationship with them in the longer term as well as a more comfortable relationship with yourself. Ask the question, ‘If I was being honest with myself, what would I do next with this piece of work or how would I make this decision’. It might be difficult but people will appreciate your honesty. Which brings me to my next point, being honest with others.
Whether it’s a colleague, client or customer, honesty really is key. When they’re together, 2 of the most misunderstood and overused words in the English language are ‘I’m fine’. These are used (certainly in my case) when I’m not fine but don’t really want to talk about why I’m not ok, much to the annoyance of those around me. Being honest with others means speaking out about why something is or isn’t working (and why you’re not ‘fine’), providing negative as well as positive feedback and owning mistakes when they take place. In order to be authentic, this level of honesty as well as integrity is always appreciated by others especially when we admit that we’re wrong. It makes us more human.
Lastly, be honest about your business and career. Burying your head in the sand if things aren’t going well is a disaster waiting to happen. Be open, especially to yourself, when there’s a problem and try to get the help that you need to sort it out (whether that’s from a boss, colleague or business coach). If you’re honest and talk up, others will be far more inclined to help you than if you leave it too late.There’s usually nothing that can be done once disaster strikes.