– Don’t Tell Anyone to Be Authentic –
Authenticity is such a controversial topic. If I have to be taught to be authentic, does that mean I’m not authentic? If I tell you to deliver your message with authenticity, am I suggesting that you wouldn’t do that in the first place? Am I basically saying that you are insincere and pretentious?
Yet how often do we hear this advice – “make sure you are authentic” or “ensure the delivery or message is authentic”.
Perhaps Steve Jobs had it right when he spoke about loving what you do: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Of course we want to love what we do and of course we must be authentic, however, who is the judge of this? Surely it can only be oneself.
What we are really saying to people when we talk about authenticity is this: be yourself and make it personal.
Most competent recruiters can sort out candidates by experience and qualifications. The really good recruiters assess cultural fit. They add most of their value by sourcing candidates who will fit with you and your organisation culturally. Don’t despair; this can include diversity and particularly thought diversity.
How can you prepare for this as a client or a candidate? The simple answer is: you can’t. There’s nothing you can do, other than be authentic: be yourself. Who wants to commit to work they don’t love doing (a typical first world problem, I know)? Equally, why would you go to an interview and not be authentic?
The same holds true for communication as well as presenting ideas and results in business. If you want to foster an engaged workforce and strive to high performance, it can’t be sustained if the people engaging are not being themselves. Sometimes the people we work with do not present as the ideal fit with our style or work preferences. The first step towards an effective working culture is to allow people to be themselves and to acknowledge that we all have different preferences and styles. Once these are accepted and understood, engagement and effectiveness can commence.
Once again, my advice is to seek help if you need a hand with developing an authentic culture. That is a workplace where people acknowledge differences and understand that being yourself at work and allowing others to be themselves will lead to a more fulfilling and productive workplace. With a little help, the odd work style inventory and some straight talking, we might even enjoy being there, and love what we do. Then we will be in an engaged authentic workplace!
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