We live in a business culture that has made a God/dess of authenticity. Be authentic above all.
But… if you lead a company, and especially if you’re a founder CEO where your word permeates the whole organisation, make sure you’re not being authentic to the wrong thing!
I once delivered some group training where well over half the attendees arrived late. Not because of trains, or traffic, or a coordinated pandemic of alarm clock failure.
Nope. Many had actually just been having a coffee next door.
And when they came, most were unapologetic. Not brandishing their lateness in my face, I hasten to add, but simply unaware that it might be an issue.
Turns out this was part of a laid-back culture.
I’m laid back. I don’t like to get stressed, so I generally don’t. If you’ve worked with me, you’ll know I’m generally easygoing on things. Sometimes too much so.
I like laid back a lot.
But I try not to be rude.
When my tendency to be laid back collides with my tendency to avoid being rude, my don’t-be-rude tends to come out on top. If my being true to my laid-back self means I’m going to be untrue to my treating-you-with-respect self, then I’ll do my best to not keep a group waiting.
So even though my nature is late, I do my best not to be.
Am I being inauthentic? Not true to myself?
I’d argue the reverse. I’ve had to figure out which of my true selves – whoever those malevolent jokers are – is the more important.
And so it is as the leader of your company. You set the tone. You set the norm. Your behaviours define what is acceptable.
So you need to think hard about those. And decide which of them you want to be authentic to.
I LOVE the mantra of authenticity. Being fake – adopting a “work persona” – is to rob me of my humanity.
If you lead, and you want to model authenticity to your organisation, be authentic to the values you hold dear, not to your whim at any given moment.
If respect is a higher value than your need to finish your coffee, then model respect.
How we can support you
- Join us on a workshop on how to scale your company; create time to focus on the bigger picture; and keep values and purpose core to your company. For max 5 CEOs of companies with revenues between £1.5m and £15m.
- Subscribe to our weekly Build on Purpose newsletter. Every Saturday morning, we'll send you a short focussed read on a specific topic of how to lead a company that values both profit and purpose.
- Talk to us to explore how we can help you scale your company in the direction you want to take it.