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Be Yourself, but Carefully: Harvard’s 5 Best Authenticity Tips

Ostensibly, everyone values sincerity. But what most people fail to realize is that there is no one golden way to be sincere, and being sincere in the wrong ways can backfire. Lisa Rosh and Lynn Offermann explain in an article for Harvard Business Review.

Authentic without the Awkward

To use sincerity effectively, you must first be self-aware of your values and skills and how others in the work environment perceive you. Self-awareness and communication skills are the hallmark of good leaders. The authors however detail five different categories of faulty leader who suffer from deficits in these areas: There are oblivious leaders, who have an unrealistic view of themselves and share info that highlight how removed from reality they are. There are bumblers, who understand themselves but do not realize how info they share about themselves can negatively affect what people think of them. There are “open books,” who will tell you anything about themselves and maybe even accidentally violate others’ privacy by talking about them too. There are inscrutable leaders, who have difficulty talking about themselves at all and risk coming across as distant or lacking passion. And finally, there are social engineers, who want to divulge nothing about themselves but expect everyone else to be open with each other.

The authors present five steps to become a more safely authentic leader. First, build a foundation of self-knowledge, perhaps by asking for feedback from colleagues or receiving coaching. Second, make the stories you share relevant to the task at hand; it is risky or wasteful to tell stories strictly to promote yourself or make friends. Third, keep revelations genuine. If you have to change major details of a story in order for it to be effective, the story obviously is lousy in the first place. Fourth, understand the organizational and cultural context, which mostly means determining how much sharing is “natural” in your current work environment. And fifth, delay or avoid really personal disclosures until you have become familiar with the other person. Do not introduce yourself with, “Hi. I work in IT and I’ve been to prison, so I guess you could say I have a lot of experience in anti-social environments.”

You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2013/10/be-yourself-but-carefully

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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