With my summer internship, I have had great opportunities to meet with different executives and observe how managers lead teams and carry themselves. A big thing I have noticed this summer, especially on my business trip this past week, is that you must be authentic. Leaders respect people who are authentic.
Leaders don’t want a bunch of “yes men” who go along with everything they say. If their team just nods and tells them that every idea is brilliant, there is no growth. Leaders and team members respect people who push back on ideas to make them better instead of nodding their heads and keeping their honest opinions to themselves. They want people who know what is right and are confident in what they are doing. When you know what you want to do and stand for what you believe, people will invest in you.
If you quickly jump to another person’s side when they disagree with you, managers don’t know if they can trust you to stand firm in your ideas in the future. Every situation is different and there are times where you will switch viewpoints after talking with others. It is different if every single time you get a little pushback you aren’t standing up for your work or ideas. Don’t be so caught up in making other people like you that you lose who you are. Be so confident in your values and beliefs that people notice something is different. When you live into who you are, people know. You can’t survive as someone else forever because you will eventually hit the wall. We all know leaders who seem like they are faking their personality to appeal to a crowd. Those people lose respect because they aren’t themselves. You earn respect when you are yourself, even if that means others disagree with you. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they don’t respect you.
Be honest. Honesty and authenticity go hand in hand. If you have an opinion, share it. People want to know what you think. You will have bad ideas/answers and good ones, it’s part of life. If you don’t know an answer, admit it. It’s okay to say that you don’t know everything. No one knows everything. In my meeting in New Jersey on Thursday, I sat across from a man who kept coming up with possible explanations for errors and prices, but many of which were straight up wrong. He was in a tough position with his bosses next to him, but the more he made up the more frustrated my boss and I got. I honestly can’t trust anything he tells me because I can’t tell when he is telling the truth or just making something up.
You can’t maintain a fake persona forever. People recognize phonies. You will burn out if you try to be someone you aren’t. If you try to lie your way your way through life, it will bite you in the butt later.
Authentic people share what they think. They know that they can be attacked for being themselves, but they accept that vulnerability. That is why leaders want authentic people on their team.
Be you, not the person others want you to be.
I appreciate you.