Why Authenticity is good for Business
Authenticity is the buzzword of the moment but what does it really mean in the context of organisational success?
Workplace diversity has long been a top priority for organisations of all sizes.
Research shows that enterprises which include people of both genders and of multiple generations, cultures and physical abilities increase their productivity, improve the effectiveness of their teams and are more profitable. A diverse workforce clearly equals good business.
However while diversity allows an organisation to tap into a far wider talent pool and as a result creates more meaningful connections with a broader target market, at the individual level 'less is definitely more'.
Rather than trying to be 'all things' to their employers and customers, people perform better, and are more engaged, when they are allowed to focus on being their singular, authentic selves.
When organisations not only acknowledge, but actively encourage and reward genuine behaviour among their leaders, the entire way of 'leading' changes, resulting in significant shifts in culture creating real and sustainable value for the organisation.
A culture that allows individuals to be who, and what they are -- both privately, and publicly -- results in employees that as individuals and a collective have more energy to create and innovate.
The freedom and support to act authentically ensures that employees are more likely to; bring their whole selves to the job, engage more effectively with organisational goals, and display a greater level of commitment and follow through.
We are all as individuals attracted to authenticity in others, so it follows that authentic leaders attract a greater commitment and dedication from their staff, leading to stronger team dynamics, and amplified business performance.
Authenticity is especially important in the areas of gender and sexual orientation. Executive leadership programs often draw on a gender biased leadership framework using male dominated communication, behaviour, and body language cues in an effort to establish a single common ground.
However such a levelling of the individuals 'authenticity' regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation does not help the majority of individuals to lead more effectively, nor to be taken more seriously.
Individuals who feel unable to be who they really are in the workplace find it difficult to relax and focus on their role, and in their effort to 'blend in' often come across as inauthentic to their teams.
Being unable to bring your true self to the organisation makes leaders less productive, and leads to higher rates of burnout. In fact, research suggests that inhibiting authenticity leads to as much as a 20 percent decline in productivity.
Of greater concern however than individual productivity, is the lack of trust, commitment, and loyalty these leaders inspire in their teams - elements that are so crucial to the success of high performing teams and companies.
We can all sense an incomplete picture even if we don't necessarily understand why, and it is this kind of disconnect that leads to mistrust and disengagement.
Rather, it is those individuals that feel empowered to bring their 'whole' selves to their leadership role, and who are driven by their personal values that become the kind of leaders that inspire loyalty and create stronger, more connected relationships with their peers, teams, and customers.
Dr. Brené Brown, explains that at its core, leadership is really about relationships. And being in a relationship with anyone requires a certain degree of vulnerability, which comes with showing our full selves.
Leaders who display invulnerability create disengagement throughout the company culture. But embracing vulnerability, Brown says, is the key to creating an effective workforce for the future. “Re-humanising work and education requires courageous leadership,” says Brown. “It requires leaders who are willing to take risks, embrace vulnerabilities and show up as imperfect, real people.”
Naturally displaying our authentic selves is not always easy, and requires both confidence, and resilience in order to be the first to take the step towards a different kind of leadership.
And yet, as difficult as it can sometimes be, bringing more of yourself and becoming a more authentic leader is a battle worth fighting. Leaders who fully embrace authenticity themselves and actively welcome it from their teams as an intrinsic part of the company culture can realise significant rewards - for themselves, their teams, and their organisations.
Author: Deidre Dattoli
Deidre is highly experienced in the fields of executive coaching and leadership development, team dynamics and performance, offering a range of personal and group leadership training programs, customized training solutions, consultancy and coaching services.
Deidre is one of Griffith Consulting's key program facilitators.
For more information about Deidre, please contact us, today.