Posted by: healingtheworkplace | June 29, 2015

Is Your Workplace Authentic?

Is Your Workplace Authentic?

And more to the point, would our workplaces be healthier if we were all more authentic?


Deni Roman

Deni Roman

What exactly is authenticity? According to an online dictionary it means to be “real” or “genuine”. I would characterize an authentic workplace as being one that values openness, learning, honesty and respect. And, in order to be authentic, both individuals and the places they work need to be open to ongoing feedback and improvement. It makes sense that a healthy workplace is made up of authentic people.

But knowing one’s true self is not that easy. In fact it is a life long journey of discovery aided by certain people, events or milestones in our lives.  Although there have been many of these enlightening events in my life none have been as transformative as the one that happened when I was in my early twenties.

Unbeknownst to me I had adopted many of my mother’s negative behaviors. Probably the most damaging was the tendency to complain about everyone and everything. I had no idea how bad it was until my friend Norma blurted out one day, “you sound just like your mother”. It felt like a slap in the face.

That wake-up call changed my life and was the beginning of years of self-exploration and attempts on my part to become more of my own person. Sometimes we are fortunate to have friends or guides who care enough to tell us what we need to know in order to grow and develop.

Sometimes this awareness of self comes from reading books or taking courses. For many of us it begins in high school when we find ourselves engaged in formal career exploration programs.

And we will likely find ourselves continuing this process of self-discovery when we enter the workplace especially if we plan on assuming a formal leadership role or are a member of a team. Many people find a personal development plan helpful as they work through this process.

In The Dynamic Introvert I devote an entire chapter to the subject of creating a personal leadership development plan and make suggestions for what to include:

  • Vision, purpose, values
  • Personality traits
  • Strengths and areas for improvement
  • Goals and action plans
  • Legacy

Of course everyone’s plan will be different but I believe that these building blocks are found in most leadership development plans.

And, although the above items are important for you to explore and understand, knowing your values and acting in ways that are congruent is the hallmark of authenticity.

Psychologists tell us that people who score high on authenticity also report a strong sense of self-worth, purpose, confidence and the ability to achieve their goals.  These qualities in themselves make it worthwhile for you to strive to be more authentic.

We have all worked with people who have no idea of how they impact the people around them. These are colleagues or leaders who lack confidence, project blame on others, feel the need to be right all the time and generally make the workplace less healthy.

Of course authenticity is a goal…something to strive for. None of us is perfect!  We may not like what we discover about ourselves but self-knowledge is invaluable and the basis for making constructive changes in our lives.   Changes that will lead to increased happiness and satisfaction for ourselves and those we work with.



  1. Great article! I agree completely with your point about being authentic in the workplace. Sometimes at work we get caught up in what we are “doing” and forget what we are “being”. If you are in a leadership role, people will look up to you if you are approachable and show compassion. No doubt, being authentic makes you a strong leader. Camille Sacco-Future author of “HIppiebanker: Bringing Peace, Love and Spirituality to the Workplace.”

    • Thanks Camille for your thoughtful comment. I think that we all want to be respected and trusted and we certainly want these from our leaders. Otherwise it makes work a scary place indeed.

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