Remember Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland? Who are you and where are you going? How would you answer the question?
Alice asks “I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.” His reply: “Well that depends on where you want to get to.” She says it doesn’t matter. And then he says (*insert drum roll here*), “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Why am I asking this? With everything happening in our world there has been a new focus on Inclusion, Diversity,Equity (Engagement)and Authenticity or alignment. My acronym for it is I.D.E.A©.
Many discuss diversity and inclusion; some look at equity, but the subset is authenticity. Are you able to bring your true self to work to social events, to wherever you go? Do you feel you belong?
These are important questions as it impacts how you and others interact. perform and and are engaged at work. One of the hardest things anyone, especially leaders, has to do is to see themselves as others see ‘them. Many of us are afraid to be honest and be real. And how can you be authentic if you don’t have a clear understanding of who you are, and your impact on other people? It’s not hard for most people to tell when they’re dealing with people who aren’t self aware. And a lot of people just bull their way around; they think they can overpower people, and dominate them. They have no idea. They’re totally clueless in how they’re impacting other people. But people know who’s authentic and who’s not. You can’t fake it to make it. But many people try. They act like imposters, like they’re trying to be something they’re not.
If you can’t be authentic, what are you denying? What enjoyment or fulfillment are you missing? Are you fearful people will shun you or look at you differently because you are scared about an issue you have, or are a different religion, or sexual identity? What is the fear? Many times what we think is a secret others already knew. An interesting footnote on this is being authentic is easier for women in general. How many men were raised with certain expectations of behavior?
When we are not able to be authentic at work we don’t feel we belong and we don’t stay. Or if we stay for money or whatever reason, we aren’t engaged or doing our best work. This impacts recruitment, retention and of course performance.
What can you do? Be more aware of how you are perceived. Ask people you trust for feedback. There are some great 360 assessment tools. I like the tools from Envisia or try the strengths finder from Clifton 2.0 on line. If you lead or manage others email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share ideas and tips I have shown others to enable people to feel they belong and be more engaged