Abena Annan, Isobar Nigeria’s Group Head of Client Services, discusses how organisations can ensure that employees bring out the best of themselves at work.
Authenticity involves being able to share original ideas, express your true feelings and operate comfortably within your values, but it also requires adapting to unique situations that may require behaviour contrary to what you consider ‘natural’. What does being authentic look like at work and how does it impact business?
Your best self
While authenticity encourages being your true self, it also eludes to being the best of yourself in order to positively contribute to your environment. For instance, an introverted account manager cannot remain reticent at work and expect a thriving relationship with his clients and colleagues. For such a role, it is crucial to wear the jacket of the extrovert or ambivert to build and nurture relationships that contribute to business growth.
Thankfully, there isn’t one dimension to an individual’s personality. For the example presented above, despite the account manager’s reserved nature, he may possess good business acumen, be highly organised and process-driven, knowledgeable and results-oriented – all of which are fantastic traits required to succeed in his role. When all of these attributes are brought to life in the workplace, it not only adds value to the client but to the organisation, inadvertently increasing productivity.
The authenticity paradox
But how do you ensure your employees bring out the best of themselves at work? By providing a working environment that facilitates this, one that assures they can feel safe being themselves. When this happens, employees feel cared for, their overall well-being will be positively impacted, relationships are strengthened and work satisfaction increases.
However, this is all assuming that people share the best of themselves at work. When the effort stops at the authentic self and that does not yield efficiency, it creates an authenticity paradox, which can be a major challenge for any business as well as the individual in question. If the employee’s behaviour does not add value to any relationship then the one with clients ultimately suffers.
Authenticity at work is not just about being your real self but rather being the best of your real self.