I sometimes struggle with being authentic.
Growing up, I was taught what to consider appropriate and what not.
For example, every time my mom expected visitors, she would make sure
the house was spotless.
Last week, my neighbor came over because she needed help with a
computer problem. My home was not spotless; the dog had played with
plastic bottles that were lying on the floor, the dishes were not done…
I wanted to invite my neighbor to a cup of coffee, but felt ashamed
of the chaos in my home. I went over to her apartment as fast as
possible to look at the computer problem. This urgency to help was not authentic…
How does this relate to management?
We might have grown up with an idea of how a manager or a leader should behave.
And now, when things are different from what we expect, it can become difficult to remain authentic.
Authenticity is knowing, and acting on, what is true and
real inside yourself, your team and your organization AND knowing and
acting on what is true and real in the world. – Bob Terry
Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is real inside myself and what I want as a manager.
Example: During my manager training at Waffle House, I was told to
cook chop steaks’ ‘under the dome’. Nobody did this (except the training
lady). Needless to say, when I trained a new
cook, I only half-heartedly mentioned that chop steaks should be cooked under a dome.
If you don’t really mean something as a manager, the employees will pick up on that immediately.
To settle my chop steak dilemma, I talked things over with a senior
manager and learned how he handled these situations (job description vs.
I think it can be especially difficult for new managers to be
authentic. It seems common that people put on a protective layer of
unrealness when they first start out on a job – in part because in new
situations, we tend to act based on our expectations and how we think
things ought to be.
The challenge lies in knowing yourself (‘I don’t like to cook chop
steaks under the dome’), knowing your companies values (‘All chop steaks
should be cooked under the dome’) and aligning the two. Doing so can help create great confidence and authenticity.
It’s easier for employees to trust an authentic manager. And once
they see that their manager is real, they, too, will strive to become
more real at work.
What are your thoughts on authenticity? Is it difficult for you to be authentic? If so, when?