In its simplest form, authenticity means being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.
Shortly after joining a team with a strongly established culture different than my client had ever experienced or was natural to her, she was thrown off her game. Advice from former colleagues and her boss was “Keep your head down.” “Follow their lead.” “This is the culture of this workplace so you will have to fit in.”
As her coach, I know how much she stretched to fit in but she just didn’t. She also expressed, the importance for her to feel safe to learn and grow in her job in order to maintain interest and enjoyment in her work. Her awareness raised, that in order for growth to happen she needs to feel safe. Growth and learning requires one to be vulnerable and not many want to create a vulnerable environment for themselves when they don’t feel safe.
Feeling safe in the workplace requires trust; it’s a rather essential human desire.
As new team members joined the organization, the culture shifted. Through coaching, she learned to observe the situation and what she saw was the entire culture shifting as more diverse personality types came on board. Eventually, the entire team became off balance. The culture was now unclear for all. Many felt there was no safe way of being and productivity declined significantly.
As a coach, I experience this topic in a high percentage of the people I work with and I often ask them how they can expect to stand up, let alone function at a high level, when they are off balance?” It provides awareness and opens them to consider the questions “How important is it to be authentic in the workplace—true to one’s own personality, spirit or character?” “How far must one/can one stretch to make the workplace culture productive and enjoyable for them?”
For this client it was absolutely essential for her to trust that she was part of the team because of who and how she is as well as because of her skills. So I leave you with this question…
What will be different in your work place, as each team member trusts they are placed on the team for their unique personality, spirit, and character?
Coaching supports you as you find your place on the team while being true to your self.
Note: When talking on this topic with a colleague, he shared a great article in the Harvard Business Review by Herminia Ibarra titled, The Authenticity Paradox about the complexity of what being authentic means. It is good food for thought and opens a meaningful conversation about authenticity when looking to hire someone.