Accelerating the Advancement of Women Leaders 

WARTS AND ALL . . . AUTHENTICITY AT WORK

February 28, 2019

When NBA player for the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan, tweeted last year about his struggle with depression, athletes and sports fans responded with support and shared candid struggles of their own. Often missing from the workplace, vulnerability is a prerequisite for human connection and research shows it can improve relationships and performance.
 
The error in flawless
Although we often adopt an all-knowing, unflappable façade at work in an effort to garner respect, research at the University of Wisconsin found that humans can quickly spot inauthenticity and react with suspicion and lack of trust.

Real at work
Extensive research reported in Harvard Business Review and elsewhere points to numerous benefits of vulnerability in the workplace. “We’ve found that when a leader, a person in charge, is able to be vulnerable and say, ‘I’m human just like you, and I make mistakes,’ it empowers the group,” according to sports psychologist Graham Betchart in an interview with CNBC.
 
We’re not talking airing your dirty laundry exactly, but sharing basic human concerns and frailties with direct reports, your team and your boss to forge greater connection and a more productive and supportive work environment.

Opening up and allowing for vulnerability at work creates a culture where mistakes are opportunities for learning and improvement rather than cause for punishment. That sort of environment leads to:

  • Increased trust of colleagues and superiors

  • More room for creativity

  • Increased physical safety as team members feel comfortable asking for help

  • Greater teamwork and more honest feedback

 
Being yourself
You can practice greater authenticity by candidly asking for help on a difficult project or letting a trusted coworker or boss know you are having a tough week due to a personal challenge. Sharing your humanity encourages others to share theirs.


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