Authenticity: The Gateway to Unleash the Power of Your Organization

Barry Kaplan and Jeff Manchester, Authors, The Power of Vulnerability

Authenticity: The Gateway to Unleash the Power of Your Organization

Embracing authenticity is a new paradigm for corporate culture. Authenticity hasn’t been a focus for organizations. Most leaders haven’t known that this is the gateway to unleashing the true power of their organization.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has certainly been embraced over the last decade. Your EQ is now considered to be as important as your IQ. However, having emotional intelligence does not guarantee that you are authentic. It’s more than that. Authenticity in the workplace simply means “you being you”—but it is not always simple to bring to life. Can you show up with your ideas and opinions—with the emotional context included—and be respected and accepted for what you bring to the organization? Or do you govern yourself for fear of rejection?

Even if you have some way to understand and communicate what emotion is triggered by a situation, how do you translate this skill into a bottom-line result? Even among leaders that embrace emotional intelligence as a required skillset, most still don’t know how to leverage EQ into true power for the organization by being authentic themselves and by promoting authenticity in their corporate culture.

In our preparation for consulting with leaders and teams, we elicit input from each of them. We do an exercise where we lay out 250 pictures of all kinds of things—work pictures, financial statement pictures, sports teams, family, beach, mountains, and more. We then ask team members to look at all the pictures and select the ones that resonate the most with them emotionally. Invariably, most come back with the pictures representing family or vacation areas, places that speak to non-work environments: pictures that carry a significant emotional component of love and joy, passion and peace. When the team members reflect on the nature of the pictures, there is a common “aha” moment—we are people on a team who love our spouses and families, enjoy hobbies and recreation, and in general we represent more than just work. They have just shared the other domains of their lives that are truly important, leading to comments like “Wow, I’ve worked with you for ten years and I didn’t know those things about you!”

These teams just didn’t know that getting to know a person, where they’ve been and what kind of life they’ve had, makes a difference in understanding how they may show up and take positions on a business issue. They didn’t know about the interests that they share with their teammates, be it favorite hobbies, age of children, or common vacation themes, which only deepens their sense of connection with each other. They didn’t know that when they are able to express emotion, it doesn’t alienate their colleagues, but allows them to be drawn into a real connection with them.

When you get to see someone for who she really is as a human being, beyond the façade, underneath the armor—not what they want you to know about them, but the true person—you can genuinely open yourself to their struggles on the job. You then develop empathy, compassion, and a feeling of care for your colleagues that comes from a genuine desire to support them with their challenges. When someone is emotionally invested in a cause, it brings out their greatest sense of creativity, inspiration, and motivation to support solutions. You will do whatever you can, whatever is necessary, to bring real support.

That is authenticity in the workplace at its best. So, what are you doing today that will deepen your level of connection?

Adapted from The Power of Vulnerability:  How To Create A Team Of Leaders By Shifting INward (Greenleaf Book Group Press) by Barry Kaplan and Jeff Manchester.  Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Kaplan and Jeff Manchester.  All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

About the Authors

Barry Kaplan and Jeff Manchester are the authors of The Power of Vulnerability:  How To Create A Team Of Leaders By Shifting INward (Greenleaf Book Group Press).  As partners at Shift 180, they coach business leaders and their teams to unlock their full potential.  To learn more, visit: