Why Your Team at Work Needs You to Be More Authentic

Business meeting
Business meeting (Adobe stock image)

If you bring all of who you are to the leadership table, some people will hate your style. In fact, it's likely that a few "important" people will not "like" you. Authenticity is intimidating and scares those with the most to hide. Far easier to lead like everyone else and be groomed to fit a mold.

Similarly, letting people see who you are and hear what you really mean makes you vulnerable. Rejection of your idea stings. Rejection of some company line you've practiced and perfected feels much less personal.

But easy leadership doesn't change the game.

If you won't bring every ounce of who you are and what you have to give to your leadership, your team will know. And, they'll follow your lead.

Your team will hold back who they are and what they have most to give. The cycle continues.

Your team needs you to be you. They yearn to experience the rare game-changing results that happen in a genuine environment of candor, deep respect and trust.

The world's future depends on growing more leaders with the confidence to audaciously bring all their gifts and ideas to the table.

6 Reasons Your Team Yearns for Authenticity

1. They've been screwed before.

Oh, they have stories. Trust me. I hear them. Assume somewhere along the line they've felt betrayed. Even if it's not at your company or even under your watch, a leader has lied to them once upon a time.

Guards are up. They need a good guy to restore their trust in leadership. They need reassurance in action, not words. They're not going to tell you the truth until they're perfectly sure you've been doing the same ... over and over.

Your team also desperately wants to know that the good guys can (and do) win. There's no better gift you can give your team than leading from who you are toward head-turning results.

2. You're wasting your energy.

Keeping up appearances is an energy-sucking, never-ending vacuum of misery. Trying to lead like someone else, or spin the truth, will wear you down and make you cranky. When leaders spend time working to show up differently than who they are, to win the game and maintain a facade, they waste precious energy that could be invested in creating breakthrough vision, developing people and working on the work.

3. You're wasting their energy.

If your team senses you're playing a game, they'll spend a lot of time working to figure out the rules. In fact, if you've got surface success, they'll be taking notes to learn to play it, too. All that contagious facade-building pulls hearts and minds from the important mission at hand.

4. You're their lifeline.

Particularly in a big organization, the immediate leader makes all the difference. You can't outsource leadership, not even to your boss, or to the human resources department. They want to hear the story from you, and they want to know you're not reading talking points crafted from someone else. If they can't trust you to be genuine, where will they turn? That answer may be really dangerous.

5. They want to be like you -- maybe.

Some folks on your team have serious aspirations to move up, but they don't want to lose their souls in the process. They're watching you to see how you handle the pressure. Do you stay true to who you are, or are you being groomed to be "just like them"?

6. They have important news to share.

They've got ideas and solutions, but your team wants to ensure they'll have a receptive audience. If you're afraid to share with them, they'll be reluctant to share with you.

Karin Hurt is the CEO of Let's Grow Leaders, an award-winning experienced former Fortune 15 executive, speaker and writer, college professor and author of "Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss," as well as her latest read, "Parent's Guide to Leadership: How to Inspire Leadership in Younger Children."

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