In this series of blogs, we will explore some of the less known aspects of managing successful projects, going beyond mere techniques and tools and venturing into the fascinating world of human behaviour. In this blog post, we will unpack the concepts of positive relationships and authenticity and their importance in managing successful projects.
Authenticity refers to being true to ourselves, to who we really are. In practice this means living according to our values, freely expressing our beliefs and feelings. The opposite of authenticity is inauthenticity, manifesting as an inauthentic self-behaviour such as self-deceit, deceit of others, compliance and secrecy. The English language is rich in describing inauthentic behaviour. For example, deceit can be described as fabricating, withholding, posturing, faking, falsifying. A person who is inauthentic we can label as manipulative, artificial, elusive, phony, crafty, deceitful, and dishonest. Does it mean that if we are truthful and honest, we are authentic and true to ourselves? Well, yes, this is true. However, authenticity is a bit more than adhering to our moral values and principles.
Authenticity involves acting according to our genuine thoughts, feelings and values. Authentic person lives “moment by moment, striving to understand themselves, their motivation, defences, and conditions of worth, while being aware of their responsibilities and choices” (Joseph, 2019). An authentic person follows their passion according to their values, natural abilities, strengths, and talents. Through these they find meaning and purpose and can engage more deeply in their life and work. Authenticity leads to flourishing and then beyond, to states of excellence (Joseph, 2016: 108-109).
How does all this relate to building positive relationships on projects?
Authenticity creates trust in a relationship. When someone consistently displays authenticity, they create an atmosphere of openness and vulnerability by sharing their thoughts, emotions and experiences. This deepens relationships, promoting honesty and reliability, essential ingredients for positive relationships. When one feels safe to express their true selves, it encourages others to do the same, creating an environment where emotions can be shared, leading to emotional connections, and empathy. In this environment we can be vulnerable.
This must go hand in hand with respecting each other’s personal boundaries. Being authentic means respecting our own values and limitations, and at the same time respecting those in others. This fosters the feelings of safety and respect, further strengthening positive relationships.
In this kind of environment, resolving conflict constructively is much easier. Authentic individuals express their needs and emotions honestly and respectfully. This usually leads to open communication and understanding, as authenticity promotes active listening and empathy.
How can we be more authentic in our workplace?
The question is: how can we create this place of safety on projects, where team members can put some of their masks aside and become more authentic to themselves? A place where they feel safe, they can grow and flourish?
We will explore this question in our next blog.
Joseph, S. (2016). Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters. Little, Brown Book Group.