As a business leader, authenticity is crucial. It helps you connect with your customers on a personal level and form genuine relationships with others on your team and in your industry.
However, there are many circumstances or habits that can prevent entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential. To find out more, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following:
Q. What is a common barrier to authenticity that leaders face, and what is the best way to overcome it?
Here’s what they said:
1. Not Being Present All the Time
One of the perks of being a successful entrepreneur is that you can hire someone to take over most tasks and keep your business running even if you aren’t physically around. However, this could harm you in the long run. The less present you are, the less you’ll know about the little things that happen every day that greatly impact your business. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
2. Not Knowing Your Audience
Your customers are the heart of your brand and without knowing them, it’s impossible to demonstrate authenticity because it shows you don’t care about their needs. Research your target market and engage with your audience as often as possible to understand who you’re catering to and why it’s important. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
I think many leaders today show phoniness, which is a major barrier to authenticity. The best way to overcome this issue is to learn how to be comfortable in your own skin and develop a leadership style that works for your personality. When leaders are phony, the audience or team can see through it. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
4. Failing to Acknowledge or Appreciate Good Work
We have frequent busy workdays with multiple assignments, rapid deadlines, and demanding clients. We may forget to note the coders, copywriters, webmasters, and managers who keep our offices running. The solution is to openly appreciate hardworking employees on a regular basis. Say “thank you” to them weekly, mention individual accomplishments during meetings, and encourage honest compliments. – Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.
5. The Need to Be Liked
Being authentic means telling the truth to your team, even if it may not be pleasant. It’s very important to be able to maintain honesty and not to listen to a desire to be liked. Seeking approval from others is in humans’ DNA, but you as a leader must be able to stand outside of compliments and complaints. View every situation from the position of an objective observer, not an understanding mate. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
6. Fear of Rejection
If someone has a fear of rejection, they tend not to put themselves out there or be honest with their feelings, especially if they’ve faced rejection the past. If you want to be more authentic, let go of your fear of rejection. Try to be more open with your team members, even if you think they may reject or disagree with your ideas. Opening up can even encourage your team members to do the same. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
7. Speeding Through Conversations
Your employees may see you as unauthentic if you are constantly quick and to-the-point when having a conversation. It’s best to take time to talk to your staff periodically because it helps build rapport and shows your employees that you care about their well-being and success. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
8. Impostor Syndrome
Something that will impede a leader’s ability to be authentic is the feeling that they aren’t truly qualified to lead. Impostor syndrome is a common issue faced by successful people who believe that they didn’t truly earn their success. Overcoming this feeling and regaining your authenticity is as simple as recognizing that you’re suffering from it and that you aren’t alone in feeling this way. – Bryce Welker, The Big 4 Accounting Firms
9. Lack of Trust
An audience may not have the trust in leaders that they might have once had because so many leaders over the past few decades have disappointed their customers or done something that made them untrustworthy. You’ll need to take time and be patient building up this trust through ongoing interaction and actions that prove you should be trusted. – Serenity Gibbons, NAACP
10. Not Being Fully Transparent
Authenticity comes from being fully transparent. You need to explain why you made a choice, the pros, the cons, and what your expectations are for the final outcome. If you are not fully transparent, then people may not know the reasons for your decisions and think you are hiding things. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
Impostor syndrome isn’t new, and you might be surprised to learn that there are successful leaders out there who have this type of thinking. If you don’t believe you have what it takes to be successful, it’ll catch up with you, no matter what you’ve accomplished. You deserve to feel good about your achievements. Don’t let self-doubt get in the way of future successes. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
12. Tunnel Vision
It’s easy to get tunnel vision and forget about our teams as we focus on goals, concerns, product development, and clientele needs. When that happens, employees can’t help but feel underappreciated and discount any attempts we make to be authentically concerned. As you reflect at the end of the day, remember: You’re not doing this alone. Learn to appreciate that and demonstrate that appreciation. – Richard Fong, Bliss Drive
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
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