When you were a child, what did you dream your life would be like? What did you aspire to do, be, and accomplish?
Are you “living the dream?” Or, like so many, have you lost sight of your true self and settled into a safer, smaller existence that leaves you wanting more?
When looking back on their lives, the BIGGEST regret of the dying was this: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Authenticity is one of the most desired qualities in a leader. Authenticity is measured by your ability to express your ideas, beliefs, and values in a way that is true to yourself.
It sounds like it would be easy to be yourself yet many people struggle with authentic self-expression their whole life.
Instead, they allow fear to guide how they “show up,” masking their true feelings under company politics, the need to look good, avoiding risk (and failure), and gaining approval.
Here’s what that can look like in real life:
- Have you ever disagreed with your leader but kept your opinion to yourself, only to find that someone braver spoke up with the same question or concern first?
- Is avoidance your go-to tactic when it comes to relationship problems?
- Is worry over your image or perceived competence dictating your hours and schedule?
- Do you feel like you settled for a job that isn’t what you truly wanted to do just to pay the bills?
The result of following these unspoken rules is less fulfillment, playing small, and feeling resentment and regret.
“Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out honestly. I want to see you be brave.” ~ Sara Bareilles
Being brave doesn’t mean there is an absence of fear; courage is directly dealing with risky issues in the face of fear.
Courageous authenticity means having the guts to take tough stands, to broach difficult subjects, and behave in congruity with your beliefs.
“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.” ~ Jim Carrey
In his commencement speech at Maharishi University, Jim Carrey tells a story about his father becoming an accountant rather than following his dream of becoming a comedian. He recounts how he chose a “safer, more reliable” profession to support his family. He hated it. And he probably regretted his decision every day.
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
Demonstrating authenticity and integrity will magnetize loyal followers because employees see you practicing what you preach and doing what you say you’ll do.
Employees trust and respect these types of leaders to effectively communicate and model core values that align with the organization.
Here are 10 ways to demonstrate more courage and authenticity at work:
- Directly and openly discuss issues that affect team performance
- Speak to the issues at hand without glossing them over
- Hold to your values no matter what
- Manage conflict directly
- Bring up issues others are afraid to discuss
- Demonstrate behavior consistent with your values
- Speak openly in the presence of authority figures
- Confront others directly when necessary (subordinates, peers, and superiors)
- Take risks (and responsibility) in the way you approach your work
- Respect others ideas and opinions even when you disagree
Be brave. Be yourself. Model authenticity for those you lead to show them what’s possible when you live a life true to yourself.
In memory of Brian Fleenor, 1972-2016.