EXECUTIVE IMPACT

The New Rules of Business: Is Pursuing Authenticity a Trap?

Photo Credit: Haobin Ye

By Courtney Connley

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"Bring your authentic self to work," is a phrase we've all heard before. But is the concept really as simple as it seems? For leaders, is there a such thing as bringing too much of yourself to work? And for women, and people with intersectional identities, is bringing your whole self to work actually a trap?

In the first episode of "The New Rules of Business" podcast, Chief Co-Founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan explore these questions with Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei and researcher Anne Morriss, co-authors of Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader's Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You. Together, they break down how executives can harness authenticity to build trust, and detail just how much of themselves leaders should bring to the workplace.

"Creating a space where authenticity can show up and thrive is a phenomenon that is co-produced between the individual wobbler...and the people around you," says Morriss. "We spend a lot of time talking about, 'Okay, how do you create that space and how do you make it safe and welcome despite whatever differences people may be bringing to the table?'" While authenticity looks different for everyone, Morriss and Frei emphasize the importance of company leaders creating a psychologically safe workplace where individuals, particularly those of intersecting identities, don't feel trapped into leading like a cis, straight white man.

Later in the episode, Carolyn and Lindsay are joined by business badass Cindy Gallop to dig deeper into what it really means to bring your full self to work, and what some executives get wrong about authentic leadership.

"The biggest mistake women leaders can make is to look around them at the white male-driven corporate culture and think, 'That's what I have to do to lead,'" says Gallop. "Lead the way you want to lead and the way you believe you should lead because that is what will be successful leadership."

Listen to the premiere episode of "The New Rules of Business" to learn more about how you can avoid the authenticity trap as a leader at work.