Every month the women of Women’s Prosperity Network (WPN) engage in a Mastermind Workshop where we focus on a specific topic that affects us in business and life. For January it was “Authenticity – The Ultimate Differentiator in Business and in Life.” As one of the Chapter Leaders, I had the opportunity to share this topic with the ladies who attended the Mastermind. It was well-received and lively discussions ensued. For some, authenticity means being true to your word; others, it means being consistent in actions in business and personal relations.
I decided to do some additional research on the topic to see what others were saying about authenticity; why it’s important to be consistently authentic in business and life. So often you’ll hear someone say, “She’s authentic.” Meaning literally, “She’s the real deal” but what else is involved?
Definition of Authenticity
According to www.thefreedictionary.com/authentic it means, “Conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief.” The same dictionary says it also includes, “…not fraudulent or counterfeit.”
Authenticity in Business
The WPN Mastermind script noted that “in business it means staying true to who you are, what you do and who you serve. When someone is authentic it means their behavior, manners, language, attitudes, everything about them is consistent and apparent in everything they do. There is a connection between their words and actions, between who they are as a person and who they are as an entrepreneur, between how they act in private and how they act in business.”
Having role models is important and as entrepreneurs there are always going to be people who are ahead of you on the ladder of success in your particular niche. Therefore, it’s understandable to desire to imitate what they do. After all, their actions have allowed them to reach a certain level in their business that you aspire to reach. At the same time, it’s important to remember that you are unique. Attempting to be someone that you’re not will likely lead to disappointment and defeat. People can easily sense when you’re not being authentic; you’re not being true to yourself.
In an in-depth review by Harvard Business Review on the topic of “Discovering Your Authentic Leadership” the following points were made, “No one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but there is no way you can be successful when you are trying to be like them. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not a replica of someone else.”
“Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are now judged,” notes John Grant in The New Marketing Manifesto. Or as Seth Godin quips in Permission Marketing: “If you can fake authenticity, the rest will take care of itself.”
Authenticity and Branding
Being your authentic self in business is closely tied to your personal brand, which is the perception that others have of you in the Marketplace. If your actions are out of alignment with your stated values this will have negative effect of the measure of confidence and trust that others place in you or even want to do business with you. This, in turn could extend to your online reputation.
What does authenticity mean to you? Please share in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Damon Styer on Flickr