What it means to be authentic
When we compare good and bad leaders (employees or companies) we quickly see the value of authenticity. The word itself has become a buzzword but what does it really mean to be authentic, and how can you tell if people are actually authentic?
A fantastic way is to look at how people ask for things - for example - do you start with general friendly banter or the actual request'? Imagine two scenarios:
1. 'Hi Dave, it's been a while since we connected, how are things? Would be great if we caught up over a coffee. By the way, I just launched this product, check out the website here, really appreciate it!'
2. 'Hi Dave, I just launched this product, check it out, think you might enjoy it. By the way, it's been a while since we caught up, how about getting a coffee sometime?'
The first scenario is quite typical - people want to seem like they're nice but they're clearly hiding from it - their intention is clear and in the second part of the message. However, the second scenario starts with the actual ask, and ends with nice message. One hides the intention, while the other makes it clear - it's ultimately respectful of people's time and doesn't try to be something it isn't. One is authentic, one is pretending to be.
Being authentic a lot of the time means being respectful. Having conversations not for the sake of having them, but because you're truly interested or want to give back. There's a fine line between being truly authentic and pretending to be. From the receiver's point of view, it's actually really obvious.