Why Authenticity is More Than a Buzz Word

Part -Two of a Four-Part Series — Building Engaged teams

Years ago when I first started my coaching business I was trying out different tag lines. I had worked a lot with engineers in the past and I knew that would be a big client base for me moving forward.

I wanted to choose something that spoke to their analytical thinking. Yet, I also wanted to honor my own value of authenticity.

So, I came up with the tag line of “Authentic Leadership for Analytical Minds.”

I ran that by my best friend (who happened to be an engineer). He looked at me like I was nuts. His response was something like…”that doesn’t tell me what you do.”

And, he was correct (as always). If a word like authenticity isn’t part of their daily vocabulary it wouldn’t resonate. Most engineers that I knew didn’t walk around the office discussing authenticity.

I didn’t use the tag line. But, my focus on authenticity never changed.

In fact, Authenticity became a core section in my signature employee engagement program, C.A.R.E. to Engage.

With 55% of Americans saying they’re currently looking for a new job, we need to engage our employees. And, engagement won’t happen without trust.

Authenticity is what builds that trust.

Build Trust to be authentic
Authenticity requires trust


In part one of this four-part series we talked about Clarity. About the importance of a clear purpose in work to build engagement. But, according to that same study “The Quality of Life @ Work,” purpose isn’t the only thing needed.

According to the study only 29% of employees feel a sense of safety and trust at work. That’s important, so….it’s worth repeating. Only 29% of employees feel a sense of safety and trust at work. WOW..

That’s a big problem.

How engaged would you be if you showed up to work feeling uncertain of the people you spent every day with? How could you stay engaged if you are wondering if they have your best interest in mind?

Without trust, it’s impossible to build engaged teams.

It’s authenticity that builds the trust in leadership.

And, the funny thing is, it’s human nature for us to assume that we’re authentic leaders. After all, we know our own feelings. We know that we would do anything for the employees.

As leaders, when we get up in the morning, we know that we want to go in and do a great job. We want to (and usually do) honor our core values.

You would think that would be enough for teams to trust us.

But, the reality is, that when it comes to relationships, perception is far more powerful than reality.

Here’s what I mean by that. Years ago when I was running the local Chamber of Commerce, I made an employee cry. And I didn’t even realize it.

I had attended a breakfast meeting before coming to the office that day. My mind was racing with things I needed to catch up on as I entered the door. We had recently moved to a new office location and there was much to do.

I remember my focus that day was on making sure things were just right. We had an open house coming up that evening to show off our new digs. So we wanted the office to be perfect.

As I walked through the door that morning I noticed a lot of brochures on the front counter. It was very cluttered. As I raced back to my office I told the girls out front to please remove the clutter.

I thought NOTHING of the comment. I went to my office and got the day started. Twenty minutes later, I walked out front for something and several of the staff were in a huddle. They were comforting a crying co-worker.

Did something terrible happen? Was there an accident? I was looking on, when one of the staff women told me what was happening.

When I walked in the door earlier, I didn’t say good morning. And worse, I didn’t notice or acknowledge the care the young woman had put into the display of brochures.

She had made sure to get a brochure of every member business who was on the roster to attend the open house that evening. She put each brochure out with care…to make sure it was visible.

And…enter me. The loving, caring leader of the pack. I walked in and told her to get rid of the clutter.

My intentions weren’t bad. I had genuine care and compassion for my staff.

But, what they perceived that morning when I walked through the door, was that I didn’t care. So, it didn’t matter at that moment who I was as a leader, it mattered how they perceived me.

Authenticity requires more from us.

It requires us to show up as the highest version of ourselves every single day. We have to remain diligent to our actions.

And that gets challenging.

We have clients, co-workers, supervisors….each pushing us in different directions. Each with their own agendas.

For your team to follow you, trust you, and engage with you, they have to see that you have their backs. Thats #1. They have to know you care.

C.A.R.E. to Engage uses tools like 360s, surveys and interviews to take a “no-ego” approach to self-discovery. You learn not how you’re leading, but how you’re perceived as a leader.

It’s a game changer. With this information you can absorb and act on the insights. You can create a more authentic relationship with your team.

As you reflect on authenticity, ask yourself….who do I want to be as a leader? And, how do I have to show up?

In the next part of this series, we’ll talk about Responsibility. Each step in the process will help you create engaged and motivated teams. — Watch this space!

Cynthia Corsetti is an Executive Coach and Speaker. If you’d like to learn more on how her C.A.R.E. to Engage system can help you create an engaged workforce in your organization, you can email her at: [email protected]

PS..I’m an open networker and I love to connect. Please join me over on LinkedIn and FB so we can take this journey together! 


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