authentic

Authentic has been a buzzword in business over the last 12 months, but what does it actually mean? When I checked the dictionary definition[1] words such as ‘genuineness’, ‘realness’ and ‘truthfulness’ appeared– so far, so straightforward. However, as a coach, my own definition of goes further than that and I define authentic as ‘behaving and expressing yourself in exactly the same way to the outside world as you think and feel about yourself on the inside’. The narrower the gap between how we see ourselves on the inside, and how we express ourselves on the outside, the more authentic we are.

So why is being authentic so powerful?

As humans we are hard-wired to spot when someone or something is not genuine and it is an instinct dating back to our need to protect ourselves from mortal danger. Thankfully we no longer have to worry about that, but this instinct remains just as relevant in today’s world of business and here’s why; When we are on the receiving end of non-genuine behaviour, we are more likely to reject the services and proposals of those who display it and as a result, we disengage with them. For companies with products and services to sell, non-authentic behaviour can literally be a deal-breaker or even worse a total non-starter.

The truth is that being authentic allows humans to build bonds of understanding and trust, to rely on each other and foster co-operative, sincere, and productive working relationships.

It sounds very empowering but is it realistic in today’s workplace?

I can hear you say: ‘It will be chaos if we suddenly become authentic at work, expressing what we really think and how we really feel’; or ‘It will give our rivals an advantage if we show our true selves’. Point taken, but to be clear, I’m not advocating expressing every thought and emotion in any given situation, I am encouraging individuals to not be afraid of displaying their authentic personalities at work. When don’t do that, we do ourselves and our talents a huge injustice by wasting valuable emotional and creative energy, which could be better used to achieve great things. I would even go as far as to say that, being authentic is the essential modus operandi in the modern workplace in order for organisations and individuals to flourish and succeed.

it starts with you!

[1] Sources: Definition of Authenticity: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/authenticity