The importance of authenticity
I know … I’m a terrible person, but this year I became hooked on Big Brother (it won’t happen again, I promise!) What struck me – and everyone else who watched it – was the sheer bitchiness of this lot! The house quickly split into different groups and there was nothing that somebody in one group would do that wouldn’t send another group into a flurry of whispering, bitching and outright nastiness.
But the main thing they bitched about – in fact, the thing they absolutely HATED with a passion that bordered on scary – was ‘fakeness’. They quickly saw through any pretence or ‘acting’. Anyone they deemed fake, two-faced, or they perceived as acting one way with some people and another way with others was ostracised from the group, whispered about and even bullied. Although this is detestable behaviour (and perhaps the types who go on Big Brother are not the best examples of society) it does show the importance people place on being real and authentic.
The Big Brother house is an extreme example of how people interact and it’s a highly stressful environment. But it does show that in times of stress people need to trust each other and believe that people are being honest with them.
It’s similar in the stressful work environment – if there is no trust it is very likely that there will be destructive conflict. Trust is especially important for leaders who need their team to cooperate with them. It’s vital that they have the team’s trust in order to work together. If they aren’t perceived as being real, honest and authentic they won’t have this trust.
The really successful leaders do not pretend to be someone they are not – people can quickly see through an act. They need to be self-aware and honest about their strengths, weaknesses and motivations. Only then will they earn the trust that is needed to lead a team.
By Emma Webb