The Freedom to Be Yourself
Of the many freedoms people enjoy and hold dear, the freedom to be yourself is held in the highest regard. The freedom to express oneself authentically is critically important to happiness and personal well being, both at home and at work. In too many work environments, however, team members feel on edge as they attempt to both fit in and live up to the workplace expectations.
To put on airs and live up to workplace expectations requires a tremendous amount of energy and is highly stressful. In fact, when team members remain on guard about who they really are, they find it difficult to fully commit both to the work, and to colleagues. Leaders either help or hurt the willingness for team members to engage authentically. It starts with the leader.
When leaders show their own true selves more often, they encourage others to do the same. When leaders set the example for others by sharing more openly what they think and feel, others follow suit. A workplace where it is comfortable to expose more of who you really are is a place where relationships go deep and teams become close-knit.
Leaders who create the work climate and foundation for others to express themselves authentically help everyone to reach their highest potential, and find comfort in the process. The best leaders know this starts with how vulnerable they are willing to be in exposing their true selves in the everyday. When leaders finally shed who they pretend to be, team members follow the same track and show up with enthusiasm, ready to reach for the stars. Engaging authentically is a privilege the best leaders provide.
If you enjoyed this entry in our Field Notes, you might really appreciate this video that explores what it means to be an authentic leader: