Authenticity in the Workplace

by Darcy G. Shenfield

There has been significant debate recently on how authentic a person should be in the workplace. There are those that promote being yourself at work as the next evolution in the modern worker and modern workplace.

Others see authenticity at work being effective only in a limited fashion. One example of limiting your authenticity would be not blurting out whatever comes to your mind in every situation.

While I see where most are coming from in this discussion, I think a deeper point is being missed. I mean that literally.

When talking about authenticity, we need to start with a common understanding that who you are authentically at a deep, steady-state level is required.

Discovering who you are can take anywhere from hours to decades. However, everyone has the potential to know this within hours and use this as a reference point for the rest of one’s life. Once you know who you are, the next step is to become aware of what is important to you right now. What are your priorities? What is most meaningful to you right now?

Once these two keys are known, who you are and what is important to you, you have the basis for authenticity. With this knowledge and awareness, you can much more easily determine if your feelings, thoughts, and actions are truly authentic to you. With practice, you can become more and more authentic, in your thoughts, feelings and actions.

I would suggest that you master living your authenticity before you regularly blurt at work. In fact, that is one of the big lessons I’ve learned from my 30 years in the corporate world.

If I had been more authentic, especially when I was under stress, I wouldn’t have blurted, because most of my blurting was in frustration, anger, or self-righteousness.

Instead, I would have handled the situation with more love, kindness, and acceptance of the way things were.

This definition and practice of Authenticity is the starting point. With this common understanding, we can discuss authenticity in the workplace. I posit that you can fully be who you are in the workplace and honor what is important to you.

Certainly, there is a chance that bringing all of yourself forward in this fashion will clash with the culture of your workplace. That’s ok. Now you know that your workplace is not a good fit, and you can decide what to do with that information.

In our workshops, we see quickly who doesn’t subscribe to the overall values and direction of an organization and we build a proper framework for future hires. We kick up the dust in individuals lives, and large businesses. It’s disruptive.

We hold you to what matters, we find out what that is – and if it doesn’t match what you’re doing then we don’t tip toe around that truth. Life is too short. Or another way to look at it

– life is too long to work a job you hate, live a life at odds with who you are, or build a company full of dispassionate, uncommitted employees.

Overall, authenticity is a win/win. The employee feels fulfilled by exercising all of who they are at work and the organization benefits from receiving a whole, engaged, complete employee.

Could your team use some tending? We weed out the plot and till the soil for your ultimate growth. Start this quarter strong with our Leadership Accelerator Program for Teams. We deep dive into your company culture and give it a makeover every employee is motivated to be a part of.