Authenticity in personal development, leadership and times of crisis
In a professional context, authenticity is a success factor: new employees should contribute to the team with their entire personality, and employees want their managers to behave in a credible manner.
We also talk a lot about this phenomenon in our Strametz seminars and trainings. Young recruits in particular ask us time and again:
How authentic can I be? When is authenticity inappropriate?
Read our statements on authenticity in personal development, as a leader and in times of crisis here.
1. authenticity includes our strengths and weaknesses
Authenticity is predominantly equated with being “undisguised, honest and real: This has an enormously positive connotation and, compared to the perfect self-dramatizations on social media, seems like a liberating blow.
Therefore, authenticity in our society is associated with decency and honesty, we think of moral deeds and exemplary behavior. This authenticity forms a strong contrast to false stagings.
But this positive level of meaning of authenticity is only one side of the coin: We act completely authentically – as corresponds to our inner being – when we are unobserved.
Lying on the sofa in the evening and eating pizza – that can also be an expression of authenticity.
Authentic, then, is what we really are: This applies not only to our strengths and shining moments, but also to our weaknesses.
2. authenticity needs self-acceptance
So being authentic means accepting your whole personality.
For this, we must also endure our weaknesses: accepting oneself does not mean that one likes everything about oneself.
Here lurks the danger of misconstruing authenticity as a free pass to resign and stay in one’s personal comfort zone: “That’s just the way I am.” Behind this is often implicitly the thought, “And I don’t want to change that either.”
But those who accept their personality can also change.
There is a lot of positive energy in this self-acceptance when we take responsibility for our own behavior: “This is who I am, but I don’t have to stay this way.”
3. May I be guided by my feelings on the job?
Am I being authentic when I behave in the way that corresponds to my feelings in the situation at the time?
Is it legitimate to loudly give your colleague a piece of your mind at the end of a project because he didn’t do his job well?
We often regret situational authentic impulses in the professional context. Afterwards, we have to go to great lengths to smooth the waters and regain trust.
Those who always express how they feel or what they think may react authentically, but this is inappropriate in the company. The completely authentic is not effective, it can be unprofessional and cause more work.
4. authenticity in the job needs professionalism
Authenticity in a professional context is trimmed back to a level that is socially acceptable by one important ingredient: professionalism.
In the professional context, there are hierarchies and unspoken rules of conduct. Even if you want to contribute to the company as a whole person, you should always be aware of your role.
This allows you to reflect on what behavior is appropriate or inappropriate.
Adapting, living up to external expectations, and sometimes taking a back seat is important to getting along with others.
Whether in crisis communication with teammates or in a feedback session: We should be equally authentic and act in accordance with our roles so that we respond appropriately. The art lies in balancing role and personality.
Self-control and appropriateness turn rash authenticity 1.0 into level-headed authenticity 2.0.
5. authenticity as a leader in times of crisis
As a leader, is it appropriate to behave authentically in times of crisis?
Particularly in exceptional situations, your team needs you as a pioneer and encourager who shows perspectives and broadens the horizon for the time after the crisis.
Embrace your role as a leader and act as a motivator – in keeping with the professionalism that authenticity requires in the professional setting.
You may be struggling with worries yourself on the inside – on the outside, you’re encouraging your team. How can you deal with this balancing act? Isn’t that inauthentic?
Because you can distinguish where authentic feelings have room and where not.
That’s why it’s important for you as a manager to take care of yourself, especially in times of crisis, and to seek out discussion partners in a private context or have an honest exchange with colleagues about how you’re doing with team leadership during the crisis.
Knowing in which framework you can let out feelings unfiltered and where authenticity also needs self-acceptance and professionalism is an enormous gain.
This is the level-headed authenticity 2.0 that we need, especially in times of crisis.
Anyone who wants to be professionally successful should not understand authenticity as a static condition. The trick is to recognize when it is your turn to behave primarily authentically and in which situations it is appropriate to behave in a more role-conforming manner. The middle is certainly often a good way to go here. Those who are aware of and reflect on both approaches learn to flexibly adjust to which appearance is appropriate in a situation – they are perceived by others as being coherent.
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