How does presence connect with authenticity in a virtual workspace? For the past few weeks, we’ve discussed presence in virtual teams. Today, we’re going to expand on that theme, and link it to a concept that is key to trust in virtual team environments: authenticity.
Since childhood, you’ve heard the advice to “be yourself”. There’s a reason everyone kept telling you this: to be yourself is to be authentic, and authenticity is the key to successful social interactions, meaningful relationships, and a generally happy life.
What does it mean to be authentic in the workplace?
Authenticity is being aware of one’s core values, skills, and attributes, and behaving accordingly. In virtual teams, acting as our authentic selves enables our team members to perceive us as trustworthy. And, as we’ve detailed before, trust ultimately leads to increased team engagement and productivity.
“Being yourself” sounds like the most natural thing in the world to do, but it’s actually quite difficult.
In fact, it’s quite rare to be attuned to who you really are: every day, we manage personal and professional commitments, maintain a cornucopia of relationships, and absorb countless voices, images, and opinions broadcast to us by mass media. This sheer volume of relationships, information, and motivations can prevent us from taking a moment to discover our authentic selves.
However, discovering our authentic selves is key to managing our lives better—especially in the workplace.
The Harvard Business Review wrote an article a few years ago on the topic. In the article, the authors searched for characteristics of strong leaders across different sectors. Their research revealed that what made great leaders great wasn’t a laundry list of specific qualities. Instead, great leaders know who they are, and lead from there.
How can you “be yourself”?
Okay, we’ve covered why authenticity is important. But if authenticity is being aware of one’s core values and acting accordingly, how do we discover that core? The key is self-awareness.
Authenticity is built on self-awareness. We become self-aware when we accept every part of ourselves:
- our strengths;
- positive attributes;
- and areas of our lives we feel could use improvement.
Self-awareness can be most effectively achieved when we take a moment, or a few, for ourselves. It can be difficult to find time to self-reflect in the middle of our daily schedules, when we are the midst of contributing to business on a daily basis.
It can also be easy to become caught in the motions at work; you might be unconsciously performing a particular task in the same way, possibly due to the force of habit or because the pace of your business compels you to be efficient. However, it is worthwhile to create an opportunity for yourself to pause and objectively observe “you” in pursuit of self-awareness.
How does one create this opportunity?
In our next article, we’ll talk about just that: we’ll go over the ways to find time for self-reflection, and some questions to ask yourself to begin your self-evaluation.
Stronger leadership, easier relationship-management, and a more engaged and productive team can all start with you, which is why the next few weeks are all about you, and finding out who that really is.
In what ways do you establish trust with your virtual team and show your true self to them?