Authenticity in Business

By reading this article, one can safely assume that you’re not in business to trick other people so you are probably trying to be a decent (business) person. Authenticity however, is a whole other animal. Authenticity goes above and beyond the status of being a good person; Authenticity embraces who we really are! It involves our core and all other distinct colours of ourselves. Authenticity abandons comparison with the Steve’s, and the Bezos that we might look up to. In fact, in attempting to appear more cool, confident, or even interesting we become more inauthentic.

In fact, authenticity derives from truly understanding and accepting our unique self. Socrates said it first in his ageless aphorism “Know thyself”. Why do we assume that business settings are different from any other life setting? As discussed in our previous article (The Business of Emotions), emotional intelligence is the highest level of awareness and understanding of ourselves and other humans. And it is this specific awareness and mindfulness that brings out an authentic and unique personality and its gifts. This is what truly defines senior members of the society and trade.

Consequently, as a business owner or leader, knowing thyself and shaping a business that plays well with all of our authentic parts is the best we can do – in any case. Now, this is definitely awkward, for a few reasons. Firstly, most people who want to own a business do so for two bleak reasons. They want to be in control or they want to be unconditionally respected (some even want both). But we can’t force circumstances to serve our needs for a very long time without being disappointed. So learning to let authenticity take ownership is crucial if we want to achieve our goals.

So, how does authenticity reflect one’s self in enterprise? Awareness is the first step in understanding and accepting. Awareness refers to being aware of one’s motives, feelings, desires, values, strengths and weaknesses, and trait characteristics. Moreover, it involves being motivated to learn about these self-aspects and their roles in our organization. As we accept our individuality, we become more accepting of others’ personality aspects. From this viewpoint, the core of authenticity involves a few interconnected – but distinct steps:

    • Self-awareness
    • Pure Introspection
    • Unbiased Processing
    • Harmonic Behaviour
    • Relational Alignment

In other words, we can be masculine, feminine, extraverted, introverted, dominant, submissive and all of the above at the same time. Of course, one aspect might predominate over the other, as all these aspects coincide. But in any case, individuals who function with greater self-acceptance, do bring more authenticity in their interactions. Now imagine being the leader of an organization and being able to finally accept yourself. Imagine how this affects all other interactions within the organization and how it brings everyone together towards a collectively hopeful direction. Imagine!

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