A recent post on my favorite blog was about authenticity.
The last part discussed authenticity and jobs.
It seems that a lot of people may have to suppress their true selves while at work.
This made me think of dealings that entrepreneurs have and how they might struggle to be themselves.
I try to be authentic, but looking back I know that I’ve fought against my true self at times.
One area where it seems entrepreneurs can lose their identity is in sales.
When you’re selling you’re trying to be the person you think the potential customer wants you to be. You do what you can to make the person comfortable so you can make the sale and move forward.
But I think it’s obvious, although maybe not easy to practice, that being authentic is the best sales strategy. You won’t connect with everybody and might lose out on customers, but in the long run maybe that relationship wouldn’t have been a good one anyway. It could lead to headaches in the future.
I’ve been trying to learn that lesson and I think I’m getting better at it.
I think the same thing goes with working with employees. Sometimes it can feel like you have to be someone you’re not to make the employees feel happy and comfortable and driven.
But if you aren’t authentic you’ll likely attract the wrong type of employees that don’t fit your culture and over time the business will suffer with this conflict.
Something that actually comes to mind in this sense was Jimmy Johnson and his coaching of the Dallas Cowboys early in the 1990s.
Jimmy had a way of running the team and the formula worked, but he also struggled with aspects of the job because he felt that he had to be ruthless and even overly mean to get the best out of the team.
That makes sense because football is a brutal game and you need a team of players and coaches that have at least a little bit of a nasty side to them to be successful. So Jimmy had to breed that type of environment.
But it seemed that maybe Jimmy was a little like that, but that it wasn’t fully who he was. So he couldn’t continue doing it.
Maybe he could have been successful by being his own self, but when you find something that works in the short-term it’s hard to change especially if there are big pressures to succeed right away.
Letting Employees Be Authentic
Another part of that post discussed the working world and how employees often have to follow procedures and scripts.
I’ve been going through this a little bit at GBW and this post is good timing.
Systems and procedures are good for all businesses, but I want to remember that you have to let people be authentic. It’s on us as entrepreneurs to hire people that are a good cultural fit for our company. Then we can let people be themselves and things will generally work out for the best in the long run.
You can hire people and push them to follow scripts, but if they have to go against their moral compass in even little ways it can lead to a bad culture and conflict.
I think it’s about letting the employee be themselves and letting them have control over the procedures within certain guidelines. Letting them make improvements and encouraging that behavior.
We all have an idea of what we think people want us to be. But it seems that in the long run the best practice is to follow your moral compass. This attracts the right kind of people and when that happens you can let your employees be themselves.
And you can be yourself when you’re with them and the culture will be a successful one.