You might think it would be easy for people to be authentic, to be "real." But of course it's not. Why? Because people are constantly maneuvering inside their head trying to please, trying to achieve, or sometimes just trying to stay out of trouble. Society is unpredictable and most people just want to manage rather than challenge the status quo. So they say what they don't mean, or don't speak at all. They hold back on sharing their true selves. In the end, does anyone really know anyone else? Really?

Well, here's a way to take command of who you really are. On Wednesday, May 20, more than 3,000 people will engage in an interactive workshop called Authentic Leadership Day at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Participants will engage in conversations of compassion, authenticity, and forgiveness as it relates to business. The event is also live-streamed by Detroit Public Television across the globe, so you can join in by clicking here.

The event is hosted by the most authentic person I know, six-time Emmy winner Shawne Duperon. She is always sharing powerful lessons about authenticity and forgiveness. I tapped into Duperon and some of her famously brilliant friends to join me in detailing why authenticity is so necessary for anyone doing business today and how to easily spot when you or someone else is faking it.

1. You hold grudges.

Authenticity allows for humanity and forgiveness. When you're authentic, you grieve your losses and move on. Grudges are not an option and will impinge on the happiness in your life. Duperon explains,

It's all about risk-taking in business, and many risks fail. The game is to grieve your losses, forgive yourself, and come to the next solution. Entrepreneurs who get stuck in painful mistakes ultimately repeat the same mistakes until the lesson is learned.

2. You always go with the crowd.

Too much of this world moves with a mob mentality. When emotions are fired up and conflict is imminent, it's very hard to push against the momentum. Authentic leaders are courageous and have the hard conversations. They sometimes go against the grain in hopes that something amazing and truthful will evolve, even though they have to battle those who won't agree.

3. You don't keep your agreements.

Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup series, explains in four steps why this is so important and how to maintain your integrity.

One of my principles is you have got to keep all of your agreements and here is the way to assure this:

  1. Don't make agreements lightly. Really consider: Do you want to say yes to this or not?
  2. Write all of your agreements down, because most people forget the things they agree to. It is too easy to forget.
  3. Schedule time to do the actions or the activities that are required to keep that agreement.
  4. Inform someone if you are going to have to break an agreement as soon as you know it is going to be broken, rather than wait until the last minute, because then they don't have time to reconsider or reschedule themselves.

4. You don't take care of yourself.

Bryant McGill, Co-founder and Chairman of SimpleReminders.com, makes clear the connection between self-maintenance and authenticity.

Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others. Your well being is the platform from which you serve others. Your personal health is your greatest possession; the most significant foundation of any future you will have. Make your body your prized possession above all physical things. Spare no expense, re-prioritize and invest in your health. Your health is a long-range investment that will pay-off when you need it most.

5. You act like a perfectionist.

Perfectionism kills leadership. Authentic leaders allow for the creation of amazing teams, products, and services. They throw ideas and initiatives out there and allow them to come to fruition. As Lloyd List, CEO of Cryoderm says, "Perfectionists tend to focus on the smallest detail and lose track of the big picture. If you obsess about every minor detail you'll never cross the finish line. While it is important to get it right, keep in mind there are many ways to get there."The "perfect" anything is an evolution and a group creation. Randy Gage, prosperity expert, puts it best: "Business plans are perfect. Real business is not. The entrepreneur who doesn't make mistakes doesn't make anything."

6. You say yes all the time.

Authentic leaders say no, and say no often. They're focused, have clarity, and stay on track. "No" is an important word. Bob Burg, co-author of the best-selling The Go Giver, explains:

Saying no is critical in business, especially to those less productive requests. Otherwise you can get bogged down doing things that are not in the best interest of your business. So, saying no is important. It's also important to do so with tact and kindness, respecting that person and the relationship.

7. You don't practice what you preach.

One of my personal core values is consistency. People are sensitive enough to others who are faking it. Don't make it easy for them to dismiss you. You must do what you say or avoid saying it in the first place. When you miss deadlines, when you're wishy-washy, when you use the "Cobbler's Children" excuse, it's inauthentic. The best way to demonstrate your integrity is to simply be your word. If they can't trust your mouth, they can't follow your heart.

Published on: May 11, 2015
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.