Beyond Authenticity: The Many Faces of You

Recently a colleague of mine, Mark Struczewski, wrote a thoughtful blog post in response to my own November 26 post entitled Changing Patterns and Their Affect on Organizational Culture. Mark wrote in his blog Stepping from the Trail to the Concrete that “we should be the same person at work as we are at home as we are at church.”

But should we be?

As a staunch advocate of keeping it real, I cringe at “fake face,” “glad handing,” and, as Mark puts it, “changing who we are for who we are with.” That said, however, I also propose that you can “lean in” to different aspects of your true self to best serve the situation, or the personality, at hand.

In my consulting engagements, I work with a series of Archetypes to help executives become more aware of not only who their dominant personality is but also what other aspects of their natural personality they can, and should, effectively draw on at different times. As leaders, you need to be able to assess both the situation as well as the character and communication style preference of the person you are interacting with and then deftly pull from that part of your true self that will be most effective.

Using myself as an example, the dominant Archetype for me is The Deviant, or someone who loves to challenge the status quo and rebel against anything that smacks of normal. I’m most comfortable in this role but I have also learned that there are many situations where this character will do me more harm that good!

I learned, unfortunately the hard way, that when I am sitting across the desk from a Chief Financial Officer discussing revenue ratios and Earnings Per Share, I need to draw not on the rebellious Deviant but rather on that inner nerd part of me that raced for the front row center desk in Latin class every year, by leaning in to The Banker Archetype, drawing on my ability to see logical patterns and craft both short term and long term plans.

Are these both honest aspects of who I am. Yes. Do they both appear to the outside world in precisely the same way. No.

If you want to attract new business, you must draw on your Evangelist Archetype; if you want to mentor, you must draw on your patient and caring advocate Archetype, The Professor. And so on. Once you recognize that you have all these different layers that you can pull from and still be true to who you genuinely are, moving from situation to situation, and person to person becomes much easier.

Leaders learn that they can, and must, travel back and forth effortlessly between different aspects of their own personality.

Do you always draw on that part of you that is most effective in a situation?

Sandi is a Leadership Strategist,Consultant, and Keynote Speaker. Follow Sandi on Twitter @SandiCoryell


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