by Christina Wedgwood

Being authentic means being in touch with our instincts, sticking to our values and living by our own standards of success and happiness. In our first article tackling this topic, we took a look at why women feel like they have to act in certain ways for work, and we explored the pressures to perhaps adopt more traditionally masculine characteristics and behaviours.

But why should we strive for authenticity at work instead of putting on the mask that’s expected?

Research on workplace authenticity

Recent research has looked at the implications of authenticity in the workplace. A study for the Journal of Happiness Studies (yes, that is actually a thing!) found that the greater a person’s feelings of authenticity, the greater their sense of job satisfaction, engagement and self-reported performance.

The link appears simple: the more people can freely express themselves at work, the more positive their workplace experience. Employees who feel they are able to be authentic not only have higher job satisfaction and engagement, but also:

  • greater happiness
  • lower job stress
  • a stronger sense of community and
  • more inspiration!

Authenticity is even thought to improve productivity and increase performance and success. That’s because it allows people to spend less time and energy on self-censoring, second guessing and hiding themselves. It makes sense that less time and energy spent on self-monitoring means more for the task at hand. Not only that, differences in viewpoints often lead to more innovative and novel solutions.

Relational benefits of authenticity

When you think of authenticity as the simple act of being genuine, it’s easy to see how far-reaching the workplace benefits can be. They don’t just apply for each individual, but also for the way a business functions as a whole. Being genuine creates stronger and better relationships with both colleagues and clients or customers. Authenticity brings a greater understanding of one another which in turn creates higher levels of trust. We all know we’d much rather do business with people we trust. This is how authenticity directly facilitates a more positive working environment.

Walking the talk

Openness and authenticity welcome more of the same from others. In fact, one of the prime ways to create an authentic workplace is to encourage authenticity among leaders. If those in positions of power are true to themselves – genuine and honest, admitting mistakes and holding to their beliefs – it gives others permission to do the same, and changes the norms of the workplace for the better. Anyone can model this, and it all helps to create an open-minded, accepting environment in which different opinions and perspectives are encouraged. This is the foundation of an authentic workplace.

Most of us can be authentic, but it takes a while…

The reality is that we all engage in self-presentation management sometimes.  We actively manage our behaviour and emotions to make it seem like we’ve got it all together,and to give a particular impression to our colleagues and bosses. It’s a bit like being in a new relationship: early on, you’re conscious of being on your best behaviour. Eventually, though, we need to get to a more authentic grounding.

A study by Plasticity Labs and social psychologist Dr Anne Wilson found that 72% of people believe that they are authentic at work, but that it can take an average of two to three months to show their true selves. You can think of this as getting the lay of the land. Interestingly, those who worked in places without a constrained dress code felt more able to be authentic and express their true selves at work.

So, how can you be more authentic?

If you’re thinking about your own authenticity, it’s worth bearing in mind that this doesn’t mean a rigid adherence to a single ‘true self’. The reality is that people are multi-dimensional and there is likely to be a difference between the way they express themselves at work compared to their social and personal lives. What’s important is that both expressions be consistent with your true self and that they reflect who you really are.

Don’t miss our next event

Here at Professionelle, we’re all about helping women to be the best version of themselves, no matter where they are in their careers. We hope that you will join us at our event on the 26th of July at “The Cube”, ASB North Wharf, to hear the wonderful Lisa King, Pauline Winter, and Brough Johnson speak, facilitated by Sue Watson.

Find out how you’ll gain an insight into how you can live life as your best, authentic self everyday and register here now.

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