Authenticity (n) - The quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine.
My brother Jeb Brooks and I have been talking with each other a lot lately about being authentic; about being true to yourself, your ideals, and sticking to what you know; about being genuine.
I’ve also been personally been giving much thought to doing the Right Thing. When I say this, I don’t necessarily mean being honest, although to me, that’s a given. In my world, and in the culture of The Brooks Group, this goes without saying. Integrity is a cornerstone principal of our company.
No, when I say that I’ve been personally considering what it means to do the Right Thing – which I equate with authenticity – I’m really saying that I’m focusing on improving my ability to listen to my instincts and ignore the “noise” that comes from over-intellectualizing a situation or business situation that requires action.
You see, if I spend a significant amount of time weighing the pros and cons of making a decision to do “X,” I can convince myself that “X” is the absolute right thing to do; however, if I spend an equal amount of time weighing the pros and cons of making a decision not to do “X,” I can convince myself that "X" is the absolute wrong thing to do.
What am I really saying here? That being authentic – genuine and following a sound moral compass – can drive us to make the absolute correct decision in the absence of certainty.
For instance, many times here at The Brooks Group, we have had a client ask us if we can perform a service that really isn’t directly what we do. Traditional leadership training would be a great example. In this case, we certainly know adult learning theory, we have content development and delivery capability and – based on the premise of this example – we have the demand.
The challenge? Today, it’s really not what we do. We, of course, offer sales training and sales management training (arguably an important form of leadership training); however, we operate in the Sales space, not in the Leadership space.
It wouldn’t be authentic of us to say “yes, we do offer leadership curriculum.”
So, how does this translate into your world? I don’t know. I can’t answer that question for you; however, I’ll bet you can. Perhaps it might help you decide how to handle an underperforming salesperson or other employee. Perhaps how to handle an issue with your one-up manager.
However it might work for you, I can tell you that that the principle of authenticity has been invaluable in helping me determine the best way to handle high-stakes situations. I hope it can help you.