Authenticity in the Workplace: How Real Can We Be?

We’ve all been there. We talk to our friends and family in familiar tones, use casual vernacular, and enunciate certain words for effect. When we are the friend, the wife, the sister, we are free to be bold, direct, and even a bit funny when handling certain situations in our personal lives. We get to be our real selves, authentic.

Yet when we step into the office, it’s a different story.  We  go to work and we believe that we have to become sterilized versions of ourselves. We calculate our responses and deliberately position our bodies. Ankles crossed, knees together, Authenticity: How Real Can We Be?hands folded gently on the table. We think we need to tame ourselves a bit to be accepted, and often we censor a lot in an attempt to gain respect from our colleagues and to be viewed as more professional.

Worry about how we are perceived can drive our behavior, style, work, and level of comfort at the office. If you are overly concerned about how your boss views you and whether or not your teammates think you are competent, how easy will you feel revealing your authentic self? Would you be open to sharing details about your life, your culture, or your heritage?

What is authenticity?

Why do we think our authentic selves won’t be fully accepted or embraced at work? Why do we change, thinking that if we behave a certain way, we will be perceived as more serious, more focused, or more entrepreneurial?

These questions are not new for women.

Authenticity is behavior that is aligned with one’s unique personality, spirit, and character.

Women have been conditioned to mirror masculine traits at work. Signs of weakness and softening have been historically linked with a loss of power and composure. And it’s clear that these types of beliefs about how we are perceived can drive our behavior.  It also impacts our work style and degree of comfort in the workplace.

This could show up in many different ways, if you are an African American woman you may opt not to wear your natural hair and instead relax your hair. Or you may consciously sidestep certain topics with your colleagues to avoid things that may bring up cultural sensitivities. In such restrictive environments, future leaders face limits on their potential. Individuals outside of the norm may not want to step onto the corporate ladder in the first place, much less attempt to climb higher rungs.

How real can you be?

As women, we need to embrace our uniqueness and operate authentically in the workplace. An HBR study of Black women in corporate America reports that many women say that they consciously code-switch to fit in with the dominant culture. This could eventually lead to mental exhaustion, feelings of exclusion, and career stagnation. While this is something that is reported by women of color, all women could benefit from ideas and tips on how to operate with authenticity in a way that in fact, benefits their professional development and progression goals.

So we all agree that authenticity matters and it is the benchmark for leaders in Authenticity: new roletoday’s corporate climate. But women have to navigate this paradigm carefully. Another HBR article on authenticity, recounts an instance where a woman newly promoted to senior leadership thought it was a good idea to be transparent and share her nervousness and concerns with her team about stepping into a  new role that increased her book of business significantly. What she viewed as authenticity and transparency, her team viewed as lack of confidence.

Tips to bring authenticity into the workplace

We must cherish our uniqueness and find the confidence to present our true, authentic selves at work. We’ve outlined some tips to help.

1. Be aware

If a certain behavior feels forced, fake, or uncomfortable, do a self-check to uncover the reasons why. Is this an action you would not normally take? Are you engaging in something that is not aligned with your values or sense of self?

Feeling uncomfortable in new or stressful situations are obstacles that are necessary for growth and development; however, responsibilities that detract from your sense of self demand closer investigation. Identify the appropriate corrective action to operate from a place of authenticity.

2. Be honest

Once you’ve noticed a situation or person that consistently triggers inauthentic behavior, recognize this dissonance and be honest about the impact it has on you, your work, and your goals. Be honest not only with yourself but also your loved ones about the values and priorities that are most important to you. If you find yourself compromising regularly, it may be time to make a change.

3. Be direct

Authenticity: Be upfront about your leadership style

When we operate from a place of honesty and truth, we develop more effective working relationships. It’s critical to be upfront about your leadership and management style. Set appropriate boundaries and be clear with your team about what’s expected and required. Authenticity accompanies open, direct communication and results in greater trust and understanding.

Why does authenticity matter?

Authenticity breeds diversity of perspective and thought — aspects necessary for innovation, creativity, and problem solving. Managers who display authentic traits are often rated as more relatable and easy to work with.

If you’re feeling anxious to communicate more openly with your team, see what discussions you can start. Facilitate conversations that encourage genuine conversation and take time to ask colleagues meaningful questions. Pause to listen to their answers. Authenticity takes times and courage to practice, but the rewards are worth it: Greater job satisfaction, personal integrity, and clearer vision for your career.

The Benefits of a ‘Power Tribe’ (Master Mind 2.0)

Have you ever heard of a power tribe? A power tribe is a group of people that are connected around a common goal and a desire to advance. Key power tribe members can be categorized as those looking to take their life, business and influence to the next level.

How do they work? Power tribes are typically led by a ‘group runner’ who helps everyone work together in the most effective way possible. This person takes the lead on organizing the fundamentals of whatever your power tribe is and what members are looking to gain from it. Typically, members participate in things like weekend retreats, round table discussions, group Q&As and one-on-one sessions centered around the topics or themes important to the group.

The concept of a power tribe was first introduced by Lewis Howes. Howes is a former pro football player turned lifestyle entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and New York Times best-selling author. To sum it up, he has successfully made a career out of helping other people make a living doing what they love. The entire idea behind his movement is his own power tribe that shares inspiring stories from successful business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities to help his community find out what makes great people great.

 

power tribe meeting

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about power tribes. Well, I recently decided to follow the advice of Lewis Howes and establish my own power tribe. I’ve heard and read about the many benefits and I can’t wait to see for myself.

Here are some of the benefits of having a power tribe:

  1. Inspiration – Hearing about the business goals and plans of others in your power tribe is certain to help you move your own goal setting and ambitions to the next level.
  2. Impact – Surrounding yourself with influencers only helps to understand and grow your own influence.
  3. Ideas – Learn from the expertise and experiences of others in your power tribe.power tribe idea sharing
  4. Accountability – The old saying that “iron sharpens iron” has never been truer. When you share your goals with those in your power tribe you will be more likely to follow through. Just imagine the pressure of saying that you will reach out to that new business contact before the next meeting and then not following through. No one wants to be that guy.
  5. High-level coaching – Make sure that you’re inviting the right people to your power tribe. You want a group with diverse backgrounds to give everyone exposure to expertise and experiences they would not normally encounter. You will find yourselves giving each other professional development pointers and coaching each other through certain scenarios.

Want to know more? You can listen to Lewis Howes’ 12-minute power tribe podcast here.

After digging in and learning more about the concept of power tribes and what makes them successful (or unsuccessful) — it became clear that participants had to willingly be open in all aspects of their life as well as willing to really invest in themselves.

Interested in establishing a power tribe of your own? Here are a couple of tips on how to get started.

  1. Establish your recurring meeting time up front.
  2. Create an agenda and distribute it ahead of the meeting.
  3. Stay on topic and save the socializing for before or after your formal meeting.

Stay tuned for updates and results from my power tribe!

7 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

Oh March. It’s the time of year where you are reconsidering resolutions, looking forward to the end of winter, planning for spring break, and oh yes, tax refunds. Yes, tax season is upon us. For those of us who have standard employment, those long awaited w-2’s should have arrived by now, now we wait for our refunds on overpaid taxes in 2017. Now, we know it can be tempting to treat yourself with those extra coins but, we have some tips on how you can put your money to work and maximize your tax refund this year.

Tip 1: Make a deposit into the emergency fund you’ve been meaning to start.  Use your tax refund to fund your emergency savings

Saving for a rainy day is one of those things that we know we should do, but few of us have taken the steps to start. According to financial experts, your initial emergency fund should be at least $1,000. And beyond that, depending on your personal lifestyle and circumstances, between 3 – 6 months of income. Whether you’ve started your emergency fund or have been putting it off until you had a little extra money, using your tax refund is a great way to get started and cover yourself in case of an emergency.

Tip 2: Get smart about mutual funds and invest in one.

If your emergency account is funded, a great way to make use of your tax refund is to turn your attention to investing. Here’s a hard truth ladies, the wage gap is real and it affects us both now, and in the future. As women we need to take control of our money sooner than later. While mutual funds, investing, and other financial topics can feel overwhelming, there is so much information available to help you get informed. You can even sign up with an investment company like ElleVest to help you get started and get smart with your money.

Tip 3: Pay off those Christmas 2017 credit card charges.

Who else understands the love/hate relationship with credit cards? Sure, they are awesome when needed and used responsibly, but credit card debt is never fun. If you’ve racked up a balance buying gifts for your friends and loved ones during the Christmas season, you’re not alone. The good news is, you can use your tax refund to pay off, or at least pay down, some of those higher balances. Trust us, you’ll feel lighter when you’re done.

Tip 4: Plan a short vacation or staycation.

All set with your savings, investments, and debt? Great! It’s time to have a little fun. It may be tempting to run out and splurge on those shoes you’ve been eyeing. But, before you go shopping, pull out that travel bucket list and see if a quick trip is possible with your tax refund. Make sure to check to flight deal sites to see if any of your wishful destinations have cheap flights. And if traveling is off the table, a staycation at an upscale spot in your city or the next town over is a great way to get away and get refreshed.

Tip 5: Home improvement projects. Use tax refund for home improvement projects

This is one of my favorite things to do with my tax refunds. They say home is where the heart is, so take some of that “bonus” money to upgrade yours. You can tackle those things that are a bit more expensive like new flooring or a bathroom remodel. Or you can keep things simple with fresh coat of paint and some new decor items to elevate your space.

Tip 6: Sign up for a class or certificate program.

No matter where you are in life or your career, you should always continue learning. Brushing up on skills you know, learning some news that you don’t, or even getting certified in an certain area is a great way to stimulate your mind and your resume. Use your tax refund to enroll in a coaching program, take a creative course, or get a special certification. Make yourself more marketable and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Tip 7: Donate to your favorite charitable organization.

For those who have, give. As we’re getting tax refunds, getting raises, and excelling in life, it’s important that we remember to give back as well. If all of your other are bases covered, donate some of your tax refund to your favorite charity or local nonprofit organization. Every donation counts so whatever you can do to help those in need is appreciated.

The Art of Conversation for Women in the Workplace

Conversation, it’s something that you don’t really put much thought into. It kind of just happens when you are with people that you are comfortable with. I never struggle with discussion topics when I’m at brunch with my girls. But when it comes to business, conversation is a whole other situation. Many business leaders are great with group communication or delivering speeches and presentations, but even some of the most successful admit that one-on-one conversation can be a bit more challenging. Bring up the wrong topic with your C-suite client or colleagues and you can harm a potentially profitable business opportunity and the relationship. Or, how about this…have you been in a situation with clients and colleagues and you had no idea what to talk about? Conversation starters are hard. Talking about the weather is so basic and can be a dead-end icebreaker, but you also don’t want to just dive into business. Can you say AWKWARD?

Interested in more insights on confidently communicating with others? Check out How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes.

So, what can you do to engage your colleagues or clients in conversation in a meaningful way? Here are a few tips to get you started…

BossChix Netowrk: Art of Conversation Tips

  1. Always go in with a clear understanding of your end goal. Some conversations are just to make a relationship connection with your client. During other discussions, you may want to lay the groundwork for a business opportunity or a new project. Go into any discussion knowing the difference. This will help you determine how much time you should spend on small talk, the types of topics you discuss before jumping into business, and ultimately, the method you use to pivot to your business idea or opportunity.
  2. Learn how to pivot. There’s a natural transition point in most conversations from one topic to the next. We’ve all been in conversations with someone who doesn’t do this well, they bounce from one topic to the next and it’s hard to keep up. When your conversation with colleagues or clients needs to include discussion of business matters, learn the cues that will guide you through transitioning from small talk to business. Here’s an example of a fluid pivot in conversation – steer the conversation to any recent news or industry updates you’ve read about the business topic. This allows you to have some time discussing topics not related to your business, demonstrate that you’ve done your research, hear their opinion on the matter, and then seamlessly segue into your business discussion.
  3. Resist the urge to interrupt. Like I mentioned earlier, I am rarely at a loss for words with my friends and once you get me going I can really talk! When dealing with C-suite clients, colleagues, and other business leaders, there’s a totally different approach. I’m in listen mode for a good portion of the time and when I do speak I’m looking to ask questions that engage and encourage more sharing. Why? Let’s face it, people love talking about themselves and their interests. If you become interested in what they are interested in, that can go a long way. Being quiet may seems like an odd tip for conversation skills, but trust me, active listening really works
  4. Read the room. Get a sense for the other people in the conversation. If they seem energetic, raise your own energy to match theirs. If they are fairly quiet, then try to speak more calmly. You always want to be yourself, butBossChix Network: Art of Conversation - Read the Room this is an easy way to be more approachable and engaging. Once you’ve read the room, humor can be your friend in any conversation if others seem open to that type of thing. Keep it light and appropriate. Funny stories can be great conversation starters and can be an easy way to take the conversation deeper by finding a common interest or shared viewpoint on a topic. If there are any don’ts that I would highlight here they would be to stay away from religion and politics – you always want to keep your conversational material positive.
  5. Stay sober. This doesn’t mean don’t drink. But, if you are in a dinner or drinks setting, don’t overdo it with the drinks. Drinks and cocktails are usually free flowing at networking and business events, which can be fun and help build relationships. I’ve found that when drinks are in hand, social circles tend to open up and it can be easier to insert yourself into a conversation with a group of higher ups or clients than it would have been in a corporate meeting room. My recommendation here is to use common sense. You don’t want to be that person. Keep it classy and stay focused on what you’re really there to do.

Key takeaway

You talk to people every day, meaning being a boss at conversing is a vital skill. Conversations introduce and connectBossChix Network: Master the Art of Business Conversations you to people, sometimes important people who could be your clients, mentors, employers, employees or friends. But you don’t have to be an extrovert, naturally witty or Tiffany Haddish to be engaging, personable, and most importantly, successful in business discussions. Why? Because most of us need some practice to master the art form of conversation. So, if you’re an introvert or sometimes struggle thinking on your feet, keeping some of these tips in your back pocket will be helpful.

What are some other tips you have for managing high stakes business conversations?

BossChix Network: Breaking News of the Day – Black Women Come Through for Doug Jones and Girls Trip Snubbed by the Golden Globes

Breaking news of the day – December 13, 2017

Black Women turn out in record numbers to elect Doug Jones to the Senate for Alabama

Alabama elects Democrat Doug Jones to fill the seat vacated by Attorney Jeff Sessions. In a hugely contested race, Doug Jones beat out the Republican Roy Moore. Moore was the subject of many controversial accusations of sexual misconduct throughout this race. But forget about his personal issues, Roy Moore was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to comply with a federal law requiring that he remove the 10 Commandments monument from the State Supreme Court building grounds.

But back to the Doug Jones win. The story here is that Black women turned out in record number to get Doug Jones across the finish line in this race. Exit polls show that 98% of Black women voted for Doug Jones compared to 32% of White women and 23% of White men

Black voters in general came through in a big way for Doug Jones, totaling 29% of the total electorate for this race. That is comparable to the Black voter turnout for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 election. But again, Black women made the difference in this race. #blackgirlmagic

via GIPHY

 

Girls Trip Snubbed by the Golden Globes

In the other news of the day, Golden Globe nominations came out and Girls Trip was not on the list. Girls Trip starred Jada Pinkett-Smith and an ensemble cast that included breakout star Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, and Regina Hall. Jada Pinkett-Smith was vocal about her disappointment at the oversight by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. According to her Twitter, members of the press association would not even attend a press conference or viewing.  Pinkett-Smith makes a valid point that while the film was not nominated, Tiffany Haddish has been asked to present at the ceremony. To call this gender bias or racism, really oversimplifies the issue facing women in all professional settings. We are so critical to the success of many industries, but our opinions and bodies of work continue to be overlooked.