Are you the real you in your role or organisation?
One of the key things I have noticed about leaders and teams who improve and succeed in their goals is authenticity.
So what do I mean by that? In a nutshell it’s the ability to inspire (lots of those mini fist pump feelings!) but crucially have an ability to also make it real for everyone. It’s certainly something people sense in a leader or even a team – a sense that what they are driving forward means something amazing to them and that they give off a heightened sense of reality, integrity and purpose in what is to be achieved.
merely act out their roles in the workplace. They sever off their work lives from the real things that give them life; those things that make them feel like they are achieving their life long ambitions. But in my experience, this is an opportunity lost to leaders and ultimately leads to a lack of vulnerability, a crucial behaviour that can make or break a team or even the toughest of organisations.
I work in a tough private equity environment where talented people and teams can get rough justice and big reward, they are constantly battling for investor resources and achievement and if they fail to keep up they suffer. However, this sense of authenticity and vulnerability has become a big factor when observing those who fail and those who go on to win.
So how can this be created and how can it survive in an organisation of competing objectives and priorities?
Seek alignment of purpose and ambition, it’s important. Take the resources we have around us for example – if you have real belief in what you need to do or achieve even the most depleted of environments are suddenly there to be utilised, the glass really can be made full but only if you have the right foundations. When we are not authentic about our goals we are more likely to choose to ignore these resources or fail to take the risk or opportunity.
People generally want to have more interesting lives and purpose – don’t we all? But as leaders of teams we fail to understand those drivers and integrate them into our plans. For so long we’ve been told not to inquire about what diverse sets of motivators people are driven by. Talk to your team and talk to yourself, then listen and respond, find out what really excites you and make greater things happen – it will be inspirational.
Blindsides so often get in the way for each and every one of us. Working with external professionals from different backgrounds can help deliver some important critique. Openly visible or deep down inside, these blindsides make us deal with things in one way rather than another and not always entirely logically. It’s important to know where these blindsides are in you and your team, to agree how to compensate for them or celebrate them, often they are a double-edged sword. Some analysis and structured work can unearth these quickly but more importantly open up teams to be vulnerable, to reveal themselves and seek out that all-important authenticity.
And remember our behaviours are continually observed. It’s so often not what we say, it’s what we don’t say, it’s the examples we don’t observe ourselves that get picked up and emulated. And if we as leaders are not authentic in what we do and believe, then our actions and comments betray us quickly.
So let’s not rest on our laurels when we are curating our teams or examining how best to improve our own or teams’ performances – be brave, look for and demand authenticity – you will stand out, build solid foundations and become higher achieving.
About the Author
Neil Sandy has 20 years experience developing businesses and people in large corporate and smaller developing businesses. He has won awards for developing sales and customers services talent at Barclays through to coaching senior leadership teams in fast growing businesses in the UK, SE Asia, India and in Africa, readying them for investment and growth.