Original article by Glenn Llopis can be found on Forbes.
Corporate playbooks are loaded with buzzwords and politically twisted terms that create more confusion than clarity. Having studied them for years, I am convinced that was the intention. The more confused people are, the more they are willing to assimilate to what the business wants them to be. In fact, per my organization’s research 85% of people go to work conflicted between what their organization and supervisors want them to be rather than what they seek to be themselves as they pursue fulfillment in accomplishing their career goals. Unfortunately, the corporate playbook created this conflict and today we are experiencing more uncertainty about what leadership truly means and whether or not the right people are in leadership roles. No wonder we are in hyper change and transformation mode. No wonder 40% of leaders are ill-prepared to lead during these times of uncertainty.
For organizations to grow and evolve, they must solve for individuality. To do this, they must move the individual employee and consumer (and all their combined differences) to the center of their corporate growth and transformation strategy. Yes, this will create disruption because organizations were not designed to solve for the unique needs of the individual. They were taught and designed to control the individual. Organizations must now listen more intentionally, learn to embrace and be more mindful about how differences create opportunities previously unseen and renew their own mindset through the perspectives of those same individuals that are now in control.
Organizations and their leaders must be more open-minded than ever to transform themselves through the lens of the individual. They no longer have a choice. This begins by leaders taking the time to reacquaint themselves with their employees, colleagues and teams: who they are as individuals, what they stand for and what’s unique about the ways they think. Learning more intimately about what gives them distinction in how they can best contribute to the organization’s goals and objectives.
To do this, organizations must create inclusive workplace environments that allow for their employees’ individuality to influence strategies, decision making, new ways of doing things (methods), outcomes and opportunities – the corporate playbook didn’t account for enough.
But this requires a growth mindset. A mindset that demands leaders to be authentic in how they think, act and influence. Authenticity is crucial for leaders to create safe inclusive environments where vulnerability and ones’ ideals are not judged and where leaders can create a culture that best serves the unique needs of the individual.
Leaders that are in search of how to bring their most authentic selves to work should consider the following three variables that reveal their true leadership identity:
For the past 10 years, my organization has researched behavioral tendencies of Fortune 500 workplace cultures, teams, and leaders. We’ve concluded that the terms: “bringing your whole self”; your “most authentic self” – are overused terms that create more conflict then resolution. Especially when a leader who is supposed to be respected, is not. Because they themselves are battling the gulf between assimilation and authenticity. So what does authenticity mean? After 10 years, here is my organization’s definition: The ability to influence through consistent behavior that reveals your individual capabilities, experiences and values without limitations regardless of the audience before you. So when do you know that you have been successful at being your most authentic self? Success lies within the alignment between what people expect from you and what you want them to expect from you.
Questions for reflection: Do you play it safe as a leader and assimilate to what others want you to be? Or do you have the courage to be your most authentic self in everything you do and how you do it?
2. Your Workplace
As a leader, you co-exist amongst multiple conflicting mindsets. In addition to your workplace that is more multi-generational, multi-cultural, and multi-gender, – it is more multi-mindset and multi-tenured than ever before. For example, you have people that have worked in your organization for 25-plus years. Though most of them are unwilling to adopt new ways of thinking, they are still convinced that the old ways still work. Then you have people who have been with the company for 10-12 years. They are the most conflicted because they are trying to bridge old and new school ways of doing things. And finally, you have an employee population that has been with the organization less than 5 years and are hopeful that their fresh perspectives and forward thinking approaches that disrupt the status quo can be adopted.
Questions for reflection: In today’s highly conflicted workplace, do people know who you are and what you represent as a leader? Or are you perceived as another inauthentic leader that is playing the part to be accepted across the enterprise.
3. Those You Associate With The Most
Do you gravitate toward like-mindedness or differences? More than 85% of leaders gravitate toward those who are like-minded because they feel safe enough to share their ideas or ideals without being judged. In today’s world of work that is fueled by differences, leaders must have the wisdom to see like-mindedness within differences. But this demands authenticity. Being aware of your own authenticity gives you the self-trust to know and appreciate your own differences and how others tend to accept them or not. Perhaps this explains why it is easier for leaders who bring their most authentic selves to work – to appreciate the differences in others and know how to activate the unique ways one’s differences can influence (beyond their job title and job description).
Questions for reflection: Do you know what gives you distinction? Does your professional network represent and strengthen what makes you distinct? Do you associate yourself with leaders, lifters, loafers or leeches? Are those that you associate yourself with self-aware enough to know how to bring their most authentic selves to work? Do they hold you accountable to do the same?
The need to maximize the utilization of human capital is at an all-time-high. But this is impossible when leaders and employees are unable to bring their most authentic selves to work. This is how organizations can most effectively create teams of individuals that have a true sense of belonging that function together as part of a healthy whole. It’s how organizations can best grow and evolve by developing leaders and employees who are encouraged to use their individuality in ways that play to their strengths – so they can impact and influence the future.