Your Team Can’t Trust You If They Don’t Know You: Why to Show Up More Authentic
If you’re trying to lead like someone else, your team will sniff that out fast, and follow your lead. Trust starts with authenticity.
If you want your team to be real with you, be real with them.
6 Reasons Your Team Yearns for Authenticity
Your team needs you to be you. They yearn to experience the rare game-changing results that happen in a genuine environment of candor, deep respect, authenticity, and trust. And, here’s why they might be holding back.
See Also: How to Be the Leader Your Employees Wants to See Walk Through the Door (our article in Entrepreneur)
1. They’ve been screwed before
Oh, they have stories. Trust me. I hear them. Assume somewhere along the line they’ve felt betrayed by an inauthentic leader.
Even if it’s not at your company or even under your watch, once upon a time a leader has lied to them. Guards are up. They need a good guy to restore their trust in authentic leadership. They need reassurance in action, not words. They’re not going to tell you the truth until they’re perfectly sure you’ve been doing the same and showing up with real authenticity.. over and over.
Your team also desperately wants to know that the good guys can (and do) win. There’s no better gift you can give your team than leading from who you are toward head-turning results. Be the authentic leader you want your boss to be.
See Also: Psychological Safety or More Courage and Psychological Safety; Why People Don’t Speak Up at Work
2. You’re wasting YOUR energy
Keeping up appearances is an energy-sucking, never-ending vacuum of misery. Trying to lead like someone else, or spin the truth, will wear you down and make you cranky.
When leaders spend time working to show up differently than who they are, to win the game and keep up a facade, they waste precious energy that could be invested in creating a breakthrough vision, developing people, and working on the work.
3. You’re wasting THEIR energy
If your team senses you’re playing a game, they’ll spend a lot of time working to figure out the rules. In fact, if you’ve got surface success, they’ll be taking notes to learn to play it too. All that contagious facade building pulls hearts and minds from the important mission at hand. Authenticity saves energy.
4. You’re their lifeline
Particularly in a big organization, the immediate leader makes all the difference. You can’t outsource authentic leadership, not even to your boss, or to HR. They want to hear the story from you, and they want to know you’re not reading talk-points crafted from someone else. If they can’t trust you to be genuine where will they turn? That answer may be really dangerous.
5. They want to be like you- maybe
Some folks on your team have serious aspirations to move up in the scene. But they don’t want to lose their souls in the process. They’re watching you looking to see how you handle the pressure. Do you stay true to who you are, or are you being groomed to be “just like THEM.”
6. They have important news to share
They’ve got ideas and solutions, but your team wants to ensure they’ll have a receptive audience. If you’re afraid to share with them, they’ll be reluctant to share with you.
You’ve stumbled across one of my very earliest leadership blog articles. Since then, there’s been a whole lot of better writing going on 😉
If you’re interested in authenticity and authentic leadership, I encourage you to check out our books:
Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results– Without Losing Your Soul
and Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates.
Great points, Karin. Why do teams yearn for authenticity? Simply put, life is too short for anything else! Letting our guard down, opening up our listening ears, and engaging for real, purpose-oriented reasons will make everyone more productive and create an authentic culture as well. Thanks! Jon
Jon, So agree. Real relationships are at the foundation of great cultures. Thanks!
I can sense a fake a mile away! We need to be authentic leaders or we will never be believable or trustworthy.
I once had a co-worker who never shared her weaknesses and always tried to have me do the heavy lifting. As a result, although I still have a civil relationship with her today, I still don’t trust her completely. Sad but true.
Authentic leadership is essential for solid relationships.
Enjoyed your post, Karin!
Terri, You raise such an important point. Once the trust is gone, it’s so hard to regain.
Karin, you are absolutely right, people do yearn for authentic leaders. To take it even further they yearn for leaders with the professional skills and techniques to be a catalyst, channeling each individual’s efforts into a single stream of high performance. At The Team-builder Leadership Institute we call this professional leader a “Dynamic Guide”. A dynamic Guide has mastered the universal skills, techniques and behaviors that create a harmonious, cohesive, high performance work environment. This leader uncovers the power in people and links their belief to their performance. People want leaders who will take responsibility for their success and the success of the team. A leader who is committed to each individual’s goals as they are to their own and a leader who has the skills to create a positive environment.
Anthony, So awesome to have you joining the conversation. I love the concept of a leader as “dynamic guide.”
Thanks for breaking down authentic leadership into concrete actionable steps. Authenticity is one of the key principles I have adopted into my leadership framework, SISAR (pronounced like scissor, cutting edge) ( the others being Spiritual (not religious), Intellectual, Strategic, and Resilient. Authenticity is what connects the loop with the other four without which there will not be the kind of synergy and dynamism in my leadership aspirations. My point being that as important as authentic leadership is, it must be an integral part of one’s overall leadership framework and strategy.
Thanks so much Solomon, terrific to have you involved in the LGL community. I total agree that authenticity is all part of an important, integrated approach to leadership.