Authenticity should never be under rated. Workplaces today are recognising just how important it is for staff and leaders be to be authentic. When people feel they can be authentic they relate better to others, rapport is built and connections are strong. Authenticity creates unity. When you are authentic you bring your whole self to work. A work culture that fosters authenticity, allows employees to be themselves in the workplace and they are most likely to be motivated, engaged and feel psychologically safe in their jobs.
Things to eliminate if you want to encourage authenticity at work
The number one thing that can creep into workplaces and kill a healthy culture is blame. We all make mistakes. But when we are in a work environment where we aren’t allowed to make mistakes, blame can be rife. We finger point to ensure everyone knows a mistake was not our own fault. We shift the blame to someone else and throw them under the bus in the hope of self-preservation. Not only is this kind of environment really toxic, but a culture of blame leads to people being too afraid to be their authentic selves. Authenticity requires you to be vulnerable, safe to make mistakes and learn from them. But people won’t feel psychologically safe in an environment when they could lose their job or their credibility if they make a mistake.
When blame is present in a work culture, creativity, learning, innovation and healthy risk-taking does not flourish. And businesses need these qualities more than ever if they want to stay relevant and progressive. Leaders who actively avoid blame and discourage it create a trickle-down effect for a healthy culture. It’s an insidious thing that needs to be stomped out completely. As a leader, if your staff have seen you blaming others and acting to protect your self-image, through blame, they quickly do the same.
Blame is also not a great look for the individual. In fact, people who blame others lose status, don’t perform as well and don’t grow as well as they could compared to those who take accountability for their mistakes and short comings. The same goes for organisations which have allowed a culture of blame to creep in and flourish. So blame stunts us from bringing our whole selves to work, from being truly authentic.
Factors to enhance an authentic work culture
Now blame is out of the way, what other ingredients do we need to create a work culture full of authentic, happy fulfilled workers being the best versions of themselves?
Nothing is more powerful than actively modelling the behaviour you’d like to see in others. Leaders have huge impact on setting the tone and paving the way for authentic work places, here’s just a few steps you can take to shake up your workplace today;
- Show accountability and vulnerability
If your team has a tendency to cover up mistakes, blame others or feel overly worried when they do make mistakes, chances are you need to address your policy regarding how to handle mistakes and challenges. The best way to do this is to communicate your own shortcomings and failures often and as a good thing. A chance to learn and grow. Being vulnerable in the workplace is a relatively new movement but one that is key to unlocking collaboration and forging bonds. We are all flawed human beings and it’s vital for your team to see you as one. When we show vulnerability, in a healthy way, people can relate to us on a deeper human level and tend to want to help. As author Simon Sinek says “The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. Great leaders don’t see themselves as great; they see themselves as human.”
- Foster experimentation and curiosity
Create an experimental culture where curiosity and experimentation is actively encouraged and rather than focussing on “what went wrong” focus on “how to make it better next time” and springboard off the mistake for future evolution. Make it very clear than failures are the foundation for learning and progress. If people see their management and leaders being less than flawless, showing accountability and ownership of mistakes and packaging up their failures as a good thing to learn from, employees will do the same. Cultures where people feel afraid to make any mistakes will hinder any creativity. Creating a culture where learning is the focus, rather than the avoidance of mistakes, is essential to make people feel secure in making mistakes, admitting them, talking about them and learning from them.
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