Managing Authenticity: Is it Possible?


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Imagine for a moment that you have many projects on your plate. Not hard to picture, is it? You know this is a great time to give members of your team opportunities to shine. Shanice and Randall come to mind as the ideal people to lead two new initiatives. These two had “star quality” written all over them when they first came on board.

Shanice is creative and thinks outside the box. You ask her to come up with four ideas to promote your hotel’s meeting space for the next two quarters. Randall loves processes and he excels at meeting and beating goals. The regional office asked you for input about how to speed up the front desk registration process and make it an “outstanding customer experience”; the perfect job for Randall.

You tell Shanice and Randall they are free to plan and execute their projects. You give them deadlines, budgets, and resources they can use. And off they go. But, honestly, do you let them go? Or do find yourself not being able to relinquish control? Do you tell Shanice that if it were you, you would focus on building your plan to attract out-of-state clients versus local businesses? Do you subtly suggest to Randall that the problem he needs to focus on is long lines, not customer experience like the regional office recommends?

Before you know it, you’re slipping in more than guidance and advice. You inhibit authentic behavior rather than encourage it.

It’s hard not to offer advice and to tell others how to do something, especially when you have a vision of what success looks like. Relinquishing control is hard. Think about this: people shine best when we allow them to use their talents and strengths freely; when we give them opportunities to be their authentic selves.

What do you do when they come to you seeking advice and guidance? Challenge yourself and them by asking them what they think the answer is to the problem; what would they do, what do they think the ideal solution is? Help them formulate a plan or walk them through scenarios that have different outcomes and let them choose the best course of action.

Managing authenticity is possible. Do people on your team need guidance? Absolutely. Do they need direction? Of course.

You hired Shanice and Randall for a reason. Why did you hire Shanice and Randall in the first place? Your instincts about them gave you insights into the potential they could deliver. They had strengths that made them the ideal people to add to your team. So, give them the freedom, space, and most of all, your permission to be who they are. Let their authentic selves shine through.

We’re not talking about giving them the keys to the kingdom or blank checkbooks. Proper oversight and management are an art. The art of leadership is knowing when to step in and when to get out of the way.

Try the D.I.N.E. model. Here is how it works.

Develop – Give your people the tools they need to be successful. Seems simple, right? The key is to give them the tools with enough guidance to ensure they know how to use them. Show them how to use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts and then let them loosen the lug nuts themselves.

Immerse – Put people in places where they are likely to be able to use their strengths to succeed. We don’t teach swimmers how to swim by having them run laps on a track; we put them in the pool! Put your people in meetings, on projects, and situations that naturally speak to their talents. Not sure what that looks like? Ask them.

Nudge – Sometimes your people need a bit of encouragement (don’t we all?). A gentle push, an affirmative word, or the nod of your head and a smile is all they need to open the door to let their talents shine. Point them in the right direction and let them go.

Explore – When you do the first three (develop, immerse, and nudge), you both get the chance to explore the possibilities and potential positive outcomes. When you open yourself to trust and allow your people to be their authentic selves, imagine where they will take you. You want them to succeed and they want to flourish. What a coincidence. Let it happen.

Roger Wolkoff
Roger Wolkoff has been called the 911 of projects, a fabulous facilitator, and the consummate communicator. Roger is a helper, fixer, and rescuer. He knows that when you build solid foundations and excellent communication, you will have engaged teams. You will spend less on turnover and re-training. Loyal and engaged employees mean customers will buy from you, which translates to higher ROI, an increase in your bottom line and better outcomes for you. Roger is the founder of All About Authenticity and has worked with clients for more than 20 years.


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