Have you ever felt the need to put on a "game face" while you're at work? Do you have to act "manly" or "tough," so that others will respect you? I know that many women feel that they can't act overly feminine, in fear that they won't be taken seriously. They think they have to wear power suits to get noticed as a player in the boardroom.
Putting on an act all the time is exhausting, and it dulls your creative spirit. As a result, you might feel as though you're letting yourself down, or being a fraud.
If this is you, stop right there. First of all, people can see right through an act, and think that you are trying too hard. They might think that you feel insecure, or that you have something to hide. Second, nobody likes a fake.
Let's discuss ways to be your authentic self at work, and how you can benefit from it.
What is workplace authenticity?
Nobody is saying that you have to act the same at work as you do when you're off the clock. Workplace authenticity just means that you are acting in a way that is representative of who you really are. These include the things you do show your beliefs and your attitudes.
Know who you are
Who are you? What keeps you going? What are your goals? What do you believe in? What are your goals for work? Why do you choose to work where you do?
It's only when you have the answers to the big questions that you will be comfortable with yourself. Once you are comfortable with yourself, you will be more confident in your workplace and in your life.
Remember that an original is worth more than an imitation
Let's say there's someone you admire in your workplace. You admire the way they speak, the way they negotiate and even how they walk and carry themselves. An imitation is always a weak version of the real thing. You are better off being yourself, whoever you are, than trying to be someone else. Nobody does you better than - you guessed it - you.
Everyone is wrong sometimes -- when it's you, fess up
Authentic leaders are honest and admit it when they have made a mistake. They are quick to apologize when they are wrong and then put all their energy into rectifying the situation. They know that everyone makes mistakes and that those lessons are valuable.
Then, they make sure that they don't make the same mistake twice. When leaders admit to their errors, it sets a good example for others to do the same.
An honest workplace is an effective workplace
When you are honest with yourself and others, others will be encouraged to be more open too. Honesty is contagious! It also breeds kindness among coworkers, as well as understanding and tolerance. What will this mean for your workplace?
That means that in the long run, your team at work will be more effective because you will all be more honest with all your personal and professional needs, goals and struggles. It will make your workplace a far more pleasant place to be. Authentic leaders are more successful.
Those who are their authentic selves at work really shine, and they are happier and more productive. Think about it, you were probably hired because of the qualities that are unique to you, and those things make you a vital part of the team.
Have you ever struggled with find your true self in the workplace? Let me know on Twitter.