When we are learning how to trust our inner voice, it can be hard to know how to take that out into the world, especially to work. That’s why Emerging Women loves to partner with people like Sylvia Doane Stephenson of FutureState, who knows the value of being able to bring your authentic self to work.
The Business Case for Authenticity
Sylvia Doane Stephenson
Do you ever have one of those moments when you know in your gut that something is the right fit? Those signs — whether it’s the goose bumps on your arm, chills up your spine or your quickened breath — that tell you, this is the right thing for you?
That’s the feeling I had the moment I found a company who shared my personal and professional passions. This integration of true self and career allows me to bring my authentic leadership to work every day. I honestly feel I am the same whole person at work that I am in my personal life. As I reflect on coming onboard at Future State just over a year ago, I recall simply knowing “these are my people”.
This feeling translates to hiring, retaining and developing strong teams. When you meet the right talent, you should get goose bumps too because quite honestly, it is about aligned energy and when that happens it is magic. By embracing and encouraging your employees’ authenticity, you and your business can reap an immense competitive advantage in both revenue results and quality of experience at work.
Here’s the business case in action:
1. Employees are the same people at work and in their personal life. For example, I am drawn to organizational change management as a consultant because at my core, I’m passionate about helping people solve their most complex business problems, developing world class leaders and simultaneously improving my community. Our company leaders agree that if something is a personal passion of our team, it should be a corporate passion as well. We track a company metric that measures the human impact our company has on people in our community through philanthropy, volunteerism and involvement in local nonprofits.
2. Being authentic creates “Magnetic Virtue” for your business. Really living the corporate and team values makes your company desirable to other companies who share similar values. You attract customers and employees who share a like-minded outlook on the world. That results in successful business development, faster recruiting, greater alignment in vision, improved productivity, deeper employee engagement and overall profitability.
3. Culture is shaped by every interaction. In this day and age, as transparent as the world is through social media, a company (or a person) is more visible than ever. We show up as our true selves everywhere — at the grocery store, at our volunteer work, AND at the office. Employees’ passions become part of the fabric of an organization. For example, I threw a literacy fundraiser over a recent weekend to help children in my community gain access to tools and support through a wonderful program called Super Stars Literacy. My colleagues not only supported me but actively participated in it. Many of my coworkers have a lot of interests too: one of my co-workers cares for animals at the Oakland Zoo, a model worldwide for wild animal conservation, enrichment and education. I’m impressed daily by how our Future State community enjoys life to the fullest, actively contributes to the world around them, and I am proud of our culture that supports them “living the truth of who they are”.
4. Everything we do comes back to people. As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we’re challenged by a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world that includes sales growth, M&A, leadership development, recruiting talent, regulatory shifts, competition and globalization. Considering the human beings first and designing with empathy for the people in the given system brings about change in the most effective way possible. When people feel their company shares their values, and demonstrates that shared value, people are more invested.
How are your values showing up as integrated in your personal life and work life? How does your business incorporate your passions into the culture? Do you know what your employees care about outside the office? We are eager to explore your experiences and learn from you all at Emerging Women Live NYC in October. Can’t wait to see you there!