6 Reasons Your Team Yearns For Authenticity

If you bring all of who you are to the leadership table, some people will hate your style. In fact, it’s likely that a few “important” people will not “like” you. Authenticity is intimidating, and scares those with the most to hide. Far easier to lead like everyone else and be groomed to fit a mold.

Similarly, letting people see who you are and hear what you really mean makes you vulnerable. Rejection of your idea stings. Rejection of some company line you’ve practiced and perfected feels much less personal.

But easy leadership doesn’t change the game.

If you won’t bring every ounce of who you are and what you have to give to your leadership, your team will know. And, they’ll follow your lead.

Your team will hold back who they are and what they have most to give. The cycle continues.

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, and trust.

The world’s future depends on growing more leaders with the confidence to audaciously bring all their gifts and ideas to the table.

6 Reasons Your Team Yearns for Authenticity

1. They’ve been screwed before

Oh, they have stories. Trust me. I hear them. Assume somewhere along the line they’ve felt betrayed. 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 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… 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.

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 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 mind from the important mission at hand.

4.  You’re their lifeline

Particularly in a big organization, the immediate leader makes all the difference. You can’t outsource 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 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.

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.”

  4. 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.

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