There's been a lot of recent talk about authenticity. "I certainly had no idea that being your authentic self could get you as rich as I have become!" exclaims Oprah. Similarly, popular author, researcher and TED talker Brené Brown urges her audiences - even business leaders - to strive for "vulnerability". But other social scientists - perhaps the majority - come down on the opposite side of this advice, suggesting that we should monitor what we say and to whom much more closely.
In a recent New York Times Op Ed, Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, claims that just being yourself is terrible advice.
At least at work, so called "high self-monitors", those who pay attention to social cues and adjust their behavior accordingly, receive higher ratings at work and advance faster, according to a comprehensive analysis of 136 studies of more than 23,000 employees. One reason is because these people are constantly trying to find out what people need and help others achieve their goals, as opposed to being directed toward their own inner needs.
"As a leader, no one needs or wants to hear
each of the 60,000 thoughts
running through your head every day."
I recently worked with a leader trying to resolve a longstanding difficulty with a problem employee. After watching them interact, I wasn't at all surprised that their relationship was so stormy. "You're telegraphing all of your judgments and feelings to her every time you interact" I told the manager. "You need to hold your cards closer to the vest."
"But I want to be authentic", replied the manager.
"No, you want to be a leader'', I responded, ''that's a whole different thing."
What Should You Do?
As a leader, no one needs or wants to hear each of the 60,000 thoughts running through your head every day. Think instead about which of those words truly deserve to be said and how they might most effectively impact the people around you. That's leadership.
Did You Know?
All of our management and leadership classes have an emphasis on effective communication skills, including how much authenticity is useful for you and those you lead.
Call or write us for more information: 303-216-1020 or
Be sure to read Lynne's books on how to handle tough conversations with your employees and your boss.