Let me guess… your boss and your colleagues are pushing for more authenticity in the workplace. They claim they like transparency. In fact, they go the extra mile to encourage fellow staff to speak their mind—or to get things off their chest.
What if I told you authenticity in the workplace can ruin your career. How so? Failing to understand the true meaning of “being authentic” in professional settings will wreck your career, sooner or later.
You see, being frank, speaking your mind, being transparent—or being authentic at work, feels great. But it comes with a catch…what do you mean?
Early in my career, I wanted to be authentic—or myself—at work. When asked, I used to express how I really felt about work situations. Needless to say, I used to act naive and foolish, based on my dictionary understanding of the word authenticity. Sure enough, my ignorance and innocence got me in hot water—or on the naughty list, shall I say.
But, things changed after I learned the true meaning of “being authentic”, and I am committed to passing on the wisdom to other professionals. So, I will let you in on the secret.
Most professionals believe authenticity in the workplace means “be your true self”, “do as you please”, or “say what’s on your mind”. They, therefore, act accordingly to that belief. And this is where well-intentioned professionals run into trouble…they hurt their career—and get labeled “not a team player”.
By the time they realize the buzz words transparency or authenticity are traps, the train has already left the station. Too late. Trop tard. Demasiado tarde…
How to understand authenticity in the workplace and protect your career
So, what does authenticity really mean? This is a smart question! Let’s look at how author and entrepreneur Seth Godin defines the term.
“We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.”
But wait, there’s more… Seth explains this:
Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not “being who you are”.
Here’s the bottom line… there are a million places where you can be your true self—but the workplace is not one of them. That is, your employer pays you to be consistent, to keep your promises—and to do your best work.
“But, that’s hard,” you might say. Yes, indeed. True authenticity is for the brave, my friend!
So what’s my point?
It does not matter whether you like your boss or not —or woke up on the wrong side of the bed. To be authentic is to be reliable and dependable—or to deliver on promises you make in your employment contract, until you resign—and take your best work elsewhere.
By the way, being reliable and dependable—or authentic—is the best way to protect your career, set yourself apart, and rise above competition. Isn’t that what you really want?
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