Being authentic is when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs and values. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be. It can be reflected in our sense of fashion, hair style, and even the words we use.

While rewarding and fulfilling, authenticity can be hard, especially at work. While many organizations are striving to create diverse environments where employees can be authentic and feel a sense of belonging, efforts often fall short of their inclusive ambitions.

Continuing our Special Series on Inclusion, Equality, and Belonging, Tamara McMillen, Roderick Jefferson, and I were joined by Celine Crawford, Chief Communications Officer at Smarkets to explore the topic of authenticity.

  • What does it mean to be authentic and can we be authentic at work?
  • How is authenticity related to achieving Inclusion, Equality, and Belonging?
  • Why is it important that we are able to be authentic – especially at work?
  • What is the impact of inauthenticity?

Together we explore these questions , share real life experiences and offer tips for individuals and businesses to TAKE ACTION and deliver a work environment and corporate culture which naturally fosters, supports, celebrates, and flourishes with authentic employees.

Give a listen and together we will convert words into action.

Curious how you can create an environment where authenticity is welcome and made possible.

  • Company culture and values should be clear and explained as part of the hiring process and throughout.  The degree of authenticity will need to live within the bounds of the corporate core values.
  • Create safe spaces where employees have the ability to come in and be their full self without worry.
  • If you have the ability, enable access to mental health services, much as you would physical health services, for your employees.
  • Teach leaders how to be authentic.  You must help your leaders to model and live your core values.    

There were so many other great tips and insights, don’t miss out on this one.

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
All right, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Coffee collaboration and enablement. Today, we’re focused, as you know, as part of this series on inclusion, equity and belonging. And today, we’re gonna have a great conversation about authenticity, not only about what it is and why it’s important, but why it’s so important to bring your authentic self to work. We have an amazing guest with us today. But before we ask that amazing guests to introduce themselves, I just want to quickly have each of our hosts do the same. Roderick my friend, do you want? Yes,

Roderick Jefferson
no. Absolutely. First of all, I’m honored to be here. I’m really looking forward to today’s conversation. I’m Roderick Jefferson. I’m the CEO of Roderick Jefferson associates. We are a sales enablement and sales coaching firm. My background briefly come from a sales background, as well as I’ve held a number of executive level conversations in some of the best and in some cases, most fun companies in the world. And I am so looking forward to this.

The Collaborator
You’ve worked with some of the smallest organizations I’ve ever heard of Robert like eBay.

Roderick Jefferson
Some I’m hoping that the the stock will actually catch on one day. Yeah, I mean, mostly he’s on

Unknown Speaker
baby, baby.

The Collaborator
Hold out, hold out hope hold out hope. What about mirror

Tamara McMillen
girl? For too long. Nolan, I work with a private equity firm. My role there is a growth specialist. So but I do spend my time working with the companies we’ve invested in to help them grow, drive value creation. We specialize in software and services. But as I said, I’ve slept a few decades in a variety of tech industries, analytics, software, telecom ag services. And I’m really delighted to be here today to discuss a meaningful conversation that I think we can all learn from and hopefully share some exciting stories that really bring the topic to life. That I’m so excited, because someone that I had the pleasure of meeting at through an organization called inclusive boards, which is really passionate about helping to create the board, diverse boards, and actually training up people to be prepared to take that role on and helps place them. And that’s where I met Celine Crawford, an exceptional woman who is not only accomplished but continues, I think to bring new life into her workplace and into every workplace, she gets the chance to touch I get to learn from her on a regular basis. So Celine, it would be wonderful if you could introduce yourself to the audience.

Celine Crawford
Thank you for that wonderful introduction tomorrow. I’m super excited to be here. I’m suing Crawford. After spending 13 years in banking and public relations, I pivoted into tech. And I absolutely have loved my job. For the last five years, I joined the company called smarkets, a financial technology company, based in the UK, that helps trading on political and sporting events. And I helped the company grow. And I grew myself during that time, from 20 people to 150 people. And today, my role spans chief communications officer, as well as head of talent for the people side. So I’m excited to be here and for our conversation.

The Collaborator
Wow. Wow, wow. Wow, that’s so impressive Selena. But seriously, that’s a wonderful, wonderful story. I can’t imagine what the journey has been like, you seem much too young to have a role that senior. But it’s very impressive. And I know when Tamara spoke about having you Come on, she was nothing but over the top excited about it as well. Let’s all have a conversation, though about authenticity to me. I am the same person when I do this show at work and at home, on the same pain in the ass person that you see here, which is both lovable and adoring at home and frustrating for those that I work with. I’m joking a little bit, I’d hope somebody would smile. This audience these people are not working with me today, people but I will try hemera my friend, what does it mean to be authentic at work? And, you know, can we truly be authentic at work?

Tamara McMillen
hours, but for some of you? Yeah. So, I mean, I think you summed it up a bit there. JOHN, when you said that being authentic. It’s about, you know, are you that same person in all the environments that you operate in and it sounds great. I think it sounds really fantastic. But the reality is to be the person whose actions and words are aligned with their beliefs to really be able to demonstrate Straight who you are, what you’re about what matters to you through the language that you choose the clothes that you wear, how you style your hair at the people, you eat lunch with what your hobbies are, that does become a little more complicated at work. And most of us have actually learned to function really well through compartmentalizing ourselves, we bring certain parts of ourselves to certain things, you know, when I go to a party, you know, I’m gonna bring my, my party selves. And when I go to work, I might want to bring that slightly more serious self. When I’m at home, I’m a mom and wife and, you know, that can take on different aspects of her personality. So I think we’ve spent a lot of time as human beings, not always being authentic in regular environments, but to then go into work where, you know, our livelihoods are resting on this, depending on where we come from, and our socio economic backgrounds. And I think, especially if you’re on any form of diversity, it’s hard. And what that means is, maybe it means you pretend that you like golf, when you’re in sales, maybe it means that you were, you know, I’m kind of very upper class clothes and hairstyles, even if that’s not where you come from, or what you’re comfortable with, or even what you’d like. And it’s because you feel you need to fit in. And we tend to think a little bit more about fitting in than we do about being ourselves. And so it’s about how do we transfer that? And, and so for me, I mean, I think that’s really what being authentic is about, it’s, you know, and can you be accepted and celebrated for what makes you actually make, and how that uniqueness benefits the people around you. And Celine, I know that you have thought a lot about this, and, and not to make everything about this past year. But COVID Slayer is another layer on top. With working from home working on screens, and, and other things, I’d love for you to share a little bit about authenticity, what it means to you, and then perhaps how you’re seeing it in the workplace. That’s marking?

Celine Crawford
Absolutely, I mean, I was saying, This is someone, just today, this has been the year of authenticity, whether we wanted it or not, right. I mean, my son has joined more board meetings and meetings, you know, for three year old than most people in their lives. And so it was really, I think, a great opportunity for people to bring their whole selves and to put themselves forward. But taking a step back a little bit to think about authenticity. With the benefit of hindsight, I can really tell that during my career in banking, I was definitely not being my authentic self. Now, this could be attributed to the fact that maybe I was younger, I had not as much self awareness, or maybe I wasn’t as seniors not as confident to portray my best self. But just by starting, you know, to wear the suit, which is metaphorical, but means that you’re entering a certain persona, you know, you have very strict rules as to how you should behave, how you should speak. And as you say, you want to fit in especially being a diverse hire, which I was a young female on the trading floor. And so it was very, very important that, you know, I told the line, and I looked and spoke exactly like my male counterparts. So I think that was a very interesting entry into thinking about authenticity. And smarkets is a completely different kettle of fish, I would say, I, for the last week, I’ve been wearing a Christmas jumper to work, the one today had Christmas light on it. And that’s normal. And that’s absolutely myself. And that’s how I am. But I would have never felt comfortable enough to do that. And I think that starts by asking people to bring their whole selves to work. But something that annoys me about that request is that people say that because it’s sexy nowadays to say, bring your whole self bring your whole self, but they don’t provide the psychological safety to be able to do that. And that’s what I think is a very important topic is how do we create that structure and that safety for people to have the option to do that? Should they wish to do so?

The Collaborator
Yeah, that’s it. That’s really interesting. saline? What? What’s the downside of people continuing to work that we the way we’ve worked all along, though, of these siloed personalities? You know, is there a downside that we should be looking for both personally and for the businesses in your opinion?

Celine Crawford
I mean, my personal opinion is that it catches up with you which personality you’re not. And it’s just very difficult to play a role for a very long time. And the cracks start to show at the worst possible moment. For example, when you’re in a crisis or whether it’s personal or at work. It’s very difficult to be able to manage and weather those storms. If you don’t feel you’re being your authentic selves. And moreover, if you’re leading a business, I think, you know, the Harvard professor Francis Frey put it best, there are three elements to, to establishing trust and authenticity is one of the critical elements to be able to do that. So when you are in that situation, and people don’t feel that you’re authentic, or they will know you’re not authentic, they’ll won’t follow you and you won’t be able to lead. So I think there are very severe repercussions of you know, being inauthentic, essentially, that we see every day.

The Collaborator
Well, you were gonna say something Roderick, I think

Roderick Jefferson
I was just listening and really appreciating the conversation around bringing your whole self and what that really means because it’s become so cliche that it really has lost its true meaning and it’s starting to kind of lose some of the shine of why it’s important, right? Because now it’s not just about bringing your whole self, but from an inclusion and belonging and equity perspective, it’s now how do we relate being authentic, which means being able to bring your uniqueness to being unique, where the expectation is that you will assimilate and you will fit in? And I’ve always believed that diversity, especially in the workplace is not only important, it’s imperative, and I’m talking about not just from gender, sexual orientation, etc. But diversity of thought, as well. So if you don’t think like everyone else, because you have dissimilar background, you have this similar history, how can you be expected to assimilate, but then when you do assimilate, you’re almost a chameleon. So you’re losing a part of your entire self. But then at the same time, you’re being asked to bring your entire self? How do we find that balance in the world of inclusion and equity, and belonging, where you can bring your whole self, but then you’re not afraid of the repercussions for bringing your whole self,

Tamara McMillen
I think was a great point. And it’s also really interesting, because workplaces are trying to create culture, right. And, and so there’s, first of all this challenge with hiring people for cultural fit when you’re trying to create diversity, because if they totally fit in, then they’re just gonna fit in with what you already have. But then it’s status quo. Exactly. But at the same time, you know, there is something to be said about this, creating the cultural environment. And where we share things, right, where we have a set of values that are in common, where we have a level of thinking that’s similar in terms of our media ambitions, not how we get there, which is where the problems lie, I think, but maybe in the destination that we all agree that we want to get to you. And I think this is where companies tend to really struggle. The other thing, Celine, when you mentioned the psychological state demo, we use a specific term the other day, and I thought it was so important, because people do need to feel safe when they bring this whole self, this authentic self. And, you know, a lot of people haven’t had that in their life. So, and feeling comfortable doing that can be really tough. And I also think for some people, and I don’t know, I’d be curious what you guys think I thought about this, you know, for some people home work, they want to not bring their whole selves, because maybe some parts are better, uncomfortable or painful or hurt. And it’s better for them to leave a bit of themselves at the door. And does that make them less authentic? Or does that does that help them be more authentic, because they’re not having the, it’s almost like growing the background, you know what I mean? Like, I’m not a robot. For some people, there’s some form of escape, they get about work, they like being kind of slightly different at work than they are at home. What do we do about that?

Celine Crawford
I understand what you’re saying. And I think that’s why I was very careful to say, to give people the option to bring their whole selves or open up that window, and people can decide, you know, the margins by which they want to do that. And you might want to do that more with one colleague versus another colleague, or with one manager versus another manager, but it’s that feeling of being able to, you know, share an experience or speak up or simply give your opinion without the fear of judgment, or repercussion, which I think is very important.

Roderick Jefferson
I think john May, if I may, that also brings up an interesting point. And that is, as I was saying earlier, we’re asking people to bring your whole self. Right, but then we’re also saying, but maybe not all the parts. So yeah, is that is that creating bile and it just hit the top of my head is that creating boundaries to where we’re expecting you to fit in, but at the same time, equity, inclusion and belonging is about being able to bring the differences. So are we being moronic here,

Celine Crawford
there’s a funny quote that says, uh, you know, society says Be yourself. And it says, Well, no, not like that. And so I find that you know, not all of yourself, though, yourself, put that away, I think at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the values, right. So in a certain place where your values fit the values of the workplace, I think you’re able to be most of yourself. But I think if suddenly, your values have a clash or in conflict with ethically or morally, or just, they’re just not the same values, I think that that’s when you start to have a problem. with hindsight, I realized that the values that were in banking, it during my formative years of my career, were not in alignment with who I was as a person. But it takes time to understand that I think what’s important as businesses is to give people the tools to find that out for themselves, and to understand how they feel about certain things. So at smarkets, we have a weekly mental health session, which I created a couple of years ago, and it’s called Ted got it with, it’s a French word to say, essentially, a heart to heart. And people can come within a specific structure to share how they’re feeling about a certain thing. And, and they know that this is a private setting, nothing is discussed with the rest of the company, but they can just share because everybody has mental health, and everybody has life, and everybody is going through something. But maybe you don’t want to mention it as a strategy meeting. But you have a place in the week where you know, you can come in and open yourself up a little bit. It’s just about opening that part of yourself so that it doesn’t accumulate, because that’s how burnout happens. That’s, that’s how all these ailments then become physical. And, you know, essentially, we’re not ourselves anymore.

Roderick Jefferson
I love that for those that are listening. Celine, I absolutely love the fact that you’ve created a safe space. And that folks can bring every part of themselves to that meeting. And you know that there is a cone of silence of what happens there stays there. But at the same time, what you can’t say in those meetings, you’re allowed, and even actually being asked to share those other parts of you that you feel like you have to leave behind outside of that meeting. Kudos to you. And for those listening, do it. Follow this replicate this?

The Collaborator
I think that’s a great point, Roderick. And the only thing I was going to just interject, though, is is there a limit on how much somebody should bring to themselves? Because and I think you touched upon and really well, when you said your values, you know, I think the values of people in a business need to align, but not the personalities, not how you live what you believe, sort of more broadly, have to, but isn’t there a little bit of a challenge, if you’re, if your values are completely out of alignment, whether you’re all white middle, aged men like me, or four very unique individuals all with tremendously, core strong core values that are in alignment. I almost wonder what’s more important here, because I struggle a little bit with the whole authentic self at work. I’m a wiseass, I’m a joker now that’s charming and endearing to my kids, now that they’re in their 20s. And they don’t live with me. Okay, but it’s not as endearing if I’m a tyrant personality to work. And I’m sitting across from a CEO that we’re trying to close business with, they don’t really want to hear my latest bad dad joke. So I’m wondering, is there a boundary that that businesses and people should be thinking of? And I’m just curious what people think all of you think, in terms of what do we mean by the authentic self?

Celine Crawford
I honestly don’t think there should be a boundary, but I think there should be the right circumstance. So you know, maybe you’re not going to be a wise as in the pitch, but you can then be what arises at lunch, you know, when they’re just, you know, having a chat with with people around you and sharing where you’ve been on holiday. And if there are to be boundaries, then that just should be communicated very clearly in the company. And with the company mission, and the company values and people, essentially a culture and values it means how do we do things around here? And you know, what are the behaviors that are expected here. So each company will have different levels of authenticity. And that should be explained from the very beginning in the hiring process, the values have to be really strong. And in the end, as a business, your values need to resonate with your purpose with your vision, it all has to be in alignment, otherwise, they’ll just be confusion. That’s my experience, even at smarkets. We actually changed our values over the last year because we saw that misalignment and when you have a misalignment in the company, it’s like an elephant, somebody is pushing it forward. Somebody’s pushing it backwards and eventually the elephant just stops, which is not good for anyone.

Tamara McMillen
I think once it’s something important, they’re

The Collaborator
hard to measure. Go ahead.

Tamara McMillen
I’m sorry. I just got So excited.

The Collaborator
No, no, I was just like, that was a brain response by Selena and I was just like jumping up and down. Like, that’s wonderful.

Tamara McMillen
Work companies probably struggle a bit with creating a workplace and bring their whole self without them to itself to work is they, they don’t have a concrete set, always values and purpose and mission and or they’re not all alive and well, there’ll be something posted on the wall, don’t get me wrong. But I mean, what’s really lived out is profit either when it’s not as consistent when it’s not at every level of the organization and every operating component of that business, then I think it becomes very confusing and, and it makes it harder for people to really understand how they’re supposed to be when because while you’re right, there are certain individuals, we’re going to always be a bit more authentic with, you know, where we’ve developed probably something closer to a friendship versus some others. But generally, you should, you know, holistically be generally a common person to those two individuals, if they were talking about you, they would recognize you between the words that they shared, but with organizations I think, are well aligned, I think it becomes very difficult. In fact, I think this mental health profession, really tough on employees.

Celine Crawford
I’m so glad you mentioned mental health, because that was exactly what I was gonna say next. So at smarkets, we we’ve done something that I’m really proud of. And I’m not saying every company should do this, there’s gradients by which you can do this, but we pay for employees counseling, so we pay for employees counseling. And not only that, for me, it’s so important as a leader in the company to be authentic about the fact that I have gone to counseling, and that it’s normal to look after your mental health. You know, when I came back from maternity leave, I had a lot of anxiety. And yes, the workplace was not the best place to talk about my maternal anxiety. But I had that structure in that outlet where I could go to therapy, think about what was making me feel the way it was. And that helped me perform it at a very high level, but remaining authentic to myself, because I had that outlet. To do that. I mean, I know of other companies that pay literally 1000 pounds a year to have a support line for employees. So there are many things that you can do, if you don’t feel that people should bring that to work, but at least for them to have an outlet to be able to talk about it.

The Collaborator
Robert, as I say, you and I wanted that.

Roderick Jefferson
Absolutely, first of all, for taking the ownership of your emotions to say I need help. I absolutely applaud you. And I think that on the topic of authenticity, part of authenticity, and bring your whole self as we were talking about is being able to say, especially in today’s COVID environment, where we’re not all doing well to be able to say, No, I’m not okay. And yes, it’s going to impact the conversations I have at work, it’s going to impact sometimes my attitude in my approach to things, it’s going to impact who I am, and I can’t just walk in the door and drop that Now, of course, none of us can walk in and just start blowing our problems against the wall. That’s not what I’m trying to say at all. But what I’m saying is, I think authenticity also, and this is to the companies, the executive leaders that I’m speaking now, we’re going to have to approach people differently from an empathetic perspective. And that’s part of being authentic. Also, you’ve got to be able to say, people aren’t Okay, people are struggling. We’ve got things that are going on right now, medically, things that are going on geopolitically that are impacting people, we have people that and we see the numbers go up every day, we have people that are losing people that are close to them and family members, I can’t expect them to just put a drape over their eyes and say, You know what, by any means necessary, we have to work. And if that is what’s happening in your company, and you’re allowing people to truly bring their whole self, then you are a role model as a company and as a leadership team that should now be propagated across not just your space, but broadly.

Tamara McMillen
Exactly. It’s amazing all the ways in which you really pioneer so many practices in in the environment, but you need an environment that you work in. I mean, just knowing that those things are available, let it’s normalized that, you know, it recognizes that life is constantly happening, even when you’ve got to get up and go to work on every paycheck. It’s like runner said it’s really remarkable and hopefully, people listening will take that away and when they This is a great time of year for thinking about benefits and a lot of people are making decisions about benefit moments. And maybe there’s some new things we can think about to provide more support for our employees to live authentically at work.

Roderick Jefferson
waiting.

Celine Crawford
I think especially young people, you know, as we were the elders in the company, they might not even know what mental health is. Or they might not even know how to approach a problem, or what is the difference between coaching and therapy, they might not know that because they might not have been exposed to that. But if you are setting the example by talking about it, it just helps them know what tools are available to be able to reach out and ask for help. When I started talking, I mean, people talk about going to the gym and they brag about it, right? I mean, mental health is a type of health, why shouldn’t you say, I’m going to, you know, my therapist in the same way that I’m going to my personal trainer, I think you’re okay, this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it would really help. And I asked her speaking about these things, I get so many messages saying, Oh, can you tell me a little bit more, you know, what does it entail? Can you tell a bit more about your experience, what what is the scheme do etc. So I think it’s important in that sense to, to show as leaders when we’re struggling, and to put her hand up, just to ask for help to say that sometimes we don’t have the answers, and that’s fine. And just to try and be our true selves in these situations.

The Collaborator
You know, all of these are some, there’s so many great points in here and, and Celine, just like everybody else, I applaud you for some of the practices you put into practice, some of the practices you put into practice, yep, I sounded really smart there. But, um, some of the things that you’re doing in your business, you know, like the, the safe places, the paying for the mental health care, and some of the other things that you’ve talked about, if somebody else is out there, and they’re, they’re either a leader hack, they’re an individual contributor, or they’re a business owner themselves. Are there any other things that you think, you know, we’re doing this or we’re thinking about doing this? And you should consider it too, because it It matters?

Celine Crawford
Yeah, yes. It’s so important that, you know, there’s, there’s a couple of things that I learned this year, because it’s been very difficult to connect with people over zoom. You know, we’re all zombies, as we call it. And, you know, when you when you don’t see people’s whole whole bodies, you know, how can you connect with the whole person, we’re just thinking in our heads, and, and just with the screen. And so we we started changing two things. One, at the beginning of each meeting, we started doing a two minute check in, and that check in is just to say, How am I feeling today? Is there anything I need to be getting off my chest, anything I need to do to clear the air. And that doesn’t mean you have to go into detail about it. But at least you can say, this is a top of my mind, this is bothering me, I’m present in this meeting. But my mind is also thinking about, you know, this doctor called it I’m waiting for, you know, whatever that may be for them. So I think check ins have been very important. And the second thing which we learned was simply asking the question, tell me more. You know, tell me more shows an interest, tell me more said, Tell me more about your opinion, your may speak up and just listening and by saying, Tell me more. There’s so many studies about CEOs using that technique, which showed their engagement and the trust level from their employees just skyrocketing, just by adding that sentence of, you know, having space in a meeting and having space in a conversation.

The Collaborator
Wonderful, wonderful. Hey, Roderick, you know, I meant to ask you to come to you, I was gonna ask you about the whole leader ship, the side of the world. You know, we’ve touched upon the fact that the importance of leaders to have empathy, understanding, open, transparent, authentic as well. Are there things you think we could be doing there, specifically for leaders, to make them better models, better individuals in terms of feeling their whole selves? Or in general around this topic?

Roderick Jefferson
I think there are a few things that come to mind and just listening to the conversation has really shifted the lenses that I’m wearing right now. And I’m getting more away from just authenticity to something that someone just touched on. That is validation, and validations of individuals and meeting people where they are. Right. And and as a leader, I think the best thing we can do for our teams are adoption, execution, but also modeling of positive behavior. If I say, I don’t know, that gives my team permission. And I think I don’t know is, is the second most powerful three words behind I love you on the planet. I think there’s an enormous amount of validity, validation, and also credibility in those words. So that’s one second is allowing people no giving people permission to make mistakes. And too often as leaders, we’re putting the turning the screws so tightly that people are afraid to try new things. And we lose innovation and creativity and thought because they’re afraid to step into a new arena, because they’ve never seen it done before. The third is, as a leader, you have to show that what matters to your team is important to you, because what’s important to you is imperative to your team. So I know I’ve said this before, one of the things that I’ve started modeling and has been passed on is a simple three question. Statement whenever I’m having a one on one, when I’m meeting with teams, when I’m meeting with an individual, and that is, when the conversation starts, before we jump into an ask a simple three part question, do you want me to listen? Do you want me to coach? Or do you want me to fix? Because it does two things. First of all, as leaders, we’re natural fixers, so it puts us in the place that’s important to them, right? And so we don’t go into fixed mode. The second thing is, it says to the other person in the conversation, this is your time, and this conversation is all about you. And it’s amazing how that will de escalate any fears or any animosity or move away from being standoffish to saying, wait, my superior cares. The last thing I’ll say is the third is stop being managers and start being coaches and leaders. No one wants to be managed. Why do you think no one ever says, Well, I’ve got a micro leader, I’ve got a micro coach. No, we don’t we say I’ve got a micromanager. That’s not a positive statement. Time for some changes out there.

The Collaborator
I love that you made me laugh in so many ways there Roderick. I don’t know. And I love you are the two most popular phrases I say to my wife. So you know, I thought that really worked well, from a relationship advice perspective as well. Tamara, it’s hard to follow a Roderick just said. But do you have any thoughts? Yeah, yeah, ditto. I was gonna say, What? What, what were your thoughts,

Tamara McMillen
my air quotes right now. I, I think that leaders do have a great opportunity to demonstrate authenticity. And I think, like has been shared here. You know, I’ve had moments when, in front of very, very large audiences, I’ve invented really personal things and found out of all the amazing things I was certain I’d said, anybody wanted to talk to me about with a personal anecdote, you know, of knowing that I had struggled with something or I, you know, had a matter of my family that made it challenging for me with work. And that’s all they want to talk about. Because they could relate. And I think what leaders have an opportunity to do is be relatable, that makes you trustworthy, it makes you feel authentic, because you know, you live like I do, and that’s what people want, and when you when you can establish that, I think is when you can truly transform anything, you know, it’s when you can take people on a journey to achieve the art of the possible. And a lot of times as leaders, that’s really what we need to do we need to we need to hum, you know, we don’t have all the answers. But we often are, we’re willing to go the mile to try. And what we’re asking is for people to trust us, and to bring themselves with us, because we need what they have, you know, we need their skills, we need their thinking, we need their innovation, we need their courage, we need their fear to I mean, that keeps us safe. And it also sends a cautionary flag. So if we can show others and this is Selena and Brian said, if we can show others that we’re like that, I think it’s incredibly, incredibly powerful. And it says it’s okay to fail. I love that, Robert, you know, I don’t know. I mean, I think that’s something that we don’t do enough for leadership is give them the space as leaders to say they don’t know, we just have to pretend to know everything. You know, we all essentially get elevated to a level of incompetence about something because we’ve done every job that we end up being responsible for. And we need to be able to say, You know what? I actually, that’s not my top skill. I don’t know that part. And somebody helped me with that. And I don’t think we can do that right now. But I think that it’s just not, it’s not safe, I think for my leaders, I think struggle to have the safety to be authentic. They can find some space to be authentic people that work for them. But I think at that top people, it gets really hard. I don’t have a magic answer there. I’d love to hear if somebody else does. But aside from maybe demonstrating it myself, I think that’s that’s where I see authenticity. It’s really hard.

The Collaborator
I think that’s really why is there Celine, what are you gonna throw in? Well,

Celine Crawford
I was just going back to the I don’t know, which I think is so important. And no one no one knows in the beginning, right. And and as we say, no leaders are made, they’re not born. And I think that’s why there’s also a responsibility from the company to offer sponsorship or training and, and to educate the people who aren’t coming up the ranks as to what it means to be a leader versus a manager or what it what is expected of them and what are some of these behaviors. How are you authentic? What does it mean? I mean, in my company, we have 35 nationalities, I’m from Lebanon. So I’m open, I’m an open book, I tell people everything. But if you’re from another country, maybe that’s not who you are. So it’s just important to give people the right tools as well. And I think sometimes that’s just missed that step I remember in banking, and I don’t want to sound make banking sounds awful. But you know, those are some really strong memories from when I was starting out. And, and people just became managers because people are fired or people left or because they were an expert at something. But if you’re very good at doing something, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to manage people. And so it’s so important to give people the right framework and the right tools.

The Collaborator
And we see that all the time in sales with the best seller happens to be the one promoted to manager. And they’re never given the training, or the coaching or the support to be a manager, much less a leader. They’re simply great sellers that continue to be great closers as they move forward. And we often fail to to build upon that. We could have this conversation for the next three years. But I know, we’re running short on time. You know, I just want to summarize my thoughts and then I’m gonna hand the ball to you tomorrow. And and and Roderick and Celine. Authenticity is such a complicated thing. It’s a complicated thing, for a very simple topic. We’re really asking people to be genuine, but how to be genuine, in what ways to be genuine. What we didn’t touch upon is the impact of that authenticity on others. So I think there’s there’s a whole nother layer that needs to be explored and thought through my authenticity may make you uncomfortable. And is that okay? And we know it’s not, but how do we actually manage that? And those are just more questions, to be honest, that I have that come out of this. But I think what I want to give kudos to everybody here, for Roderick tamera. And especially you, Celine was just so many great thoughts invites, words of wisdom and advice that others can replicate. So don’t lose sight of those messages. And those insights even though there’s more questions, you can make a good step in the right direction, if you take the time to follow some of this insight and advice to mirror. What about you, my friend?

Tamara McMillen
I feel like I learned from like in this you know, the things that I heard that we talked about, we want this form to be a place where people can go away Take action, I think Selena gave us so many things about creating a safe place where people can come and be their authentic self, you know, maybe carve out separate and love his chickens and meetings is giving people permission to say something else is on their mind. You know, it’s talking about the things that you do to keep yourself well, physically, mentally, and equating that with going to the gym. You know, I just so many good things. But what I suppose it leaves me thinking about are two things. One, I just remember at the end that time when I was really not being authentic at work, but I didn’t know, I think sometimes you don’t know, we’re not being authentic. And it was early in my career. And what was the manager that at the time, but a friend of mine came to me. She goes

Unknown Speaker
tomorrow.

Tamara McMillen
You need to let people know who you are. When we What are you talking about? Like? She’s like, yeah, you’re like this work person. You know, you’re professional, you know, down here, this work person, but then you may be the one. There’s like this other girl that

Unknown Speaker
like

Tamara McMillen
everybody else at work? No. And, you know, I didn’t even know that I wasn’t being authentic. So maybe, you know, it just reminded me that we all need to find that case that might make this my friend Kate, we need to find one of those who can help us recognize because sometimes you don’t know. The other thought was, you know, Roberts Oh, so good. he organizes things in like three points or two questions. I am so good. But I do think that the one question that I usually ask whenever I have a one on one engagement with a person, no matter what kind of discussion it is, we’ll start talking about the topic of the meeting of the business. And I usually am pretty good. And they’ll say, well hang on a second. How are you? You know, just trying to you can never setting but just saying like, how are you? What’s going on, you know, your family, you’re doing all right, you know, just making that human connection, because I think, particularly in the zoom role, but I have found is every meeting has a really distinct purpose. And since you’re not, you know, getting a cup of coffee together when you might ask that otherwise, I’m finding that really helps me to them, Be authentic, and also to hopefully encourage someone else, but with me, you can be yourself. I don’t know if any of that’s helpful, but Malin just my brains full after listening to Thank you for being Thank you, Roderick and john. It’s amazing.

The Collaborator
Yeah, I agree with you. And my brain is definitely exploding. And I know it’s about to get a little bit fuller as I asked Roderick, for his final thoughts.

Roderick Jefferson
First of all, again, as I said to beginning, I’m even more honored right now to be part of this conversation, I feel like I walk away. I’m so much more engaged in so much smarter than before this thing started, I would leave it with this, that I believe that authenticity is what leads to true inclusion, diversity and belonging. And that leads to culture. And culture, in my opinion, is what happens when no one is watching. But it’s the one thing that everyone is talking about. Wow,

The Collaborator
you took the challenge, Roderick, and now my brain has just exploded a little bit.

Unknown Speaker
Oh, my God.

Unknown Speaker
I don’t want to go after him. I know. But

The Collaborator
amazing, you’ve already been amazing saline, and you’re not attacking anybody. So anything, any final thoughts from you? Um,

Celine Crawford
I guess my final thought is that it’s sometimes easier not to be your authentic self. Because as we’ve all said, it is uncomfortable. But in the long run, it really pays dividends to do that, or at least to explore to do that or find the tools to be able to understand what that means to you. And as a leader, what I found is that, you know, when I approach a conversation, if I start by sharing something vulnerable about myself or something that happened to me, the person with me, no matter what level or experienced will mirror that back, and it’s not you don’t even have to ask how you are you say, Hey, this is how I am today. And and they will reciprocate because that is human nature, you know, people mirror and and you’re you’ve just implicitly created a safe environment by just doing that. So if if we take anything from this, you know, start with yourself and open yourself up so that people feel comfortable to do that as well.

The Collaborator
Brilliant. Okay, that with that my head truly did just explode a little bit. Thank you, everybody for taking the time to listen in. Look, there’s there’s a million great tips that came out of this conversation. I’ll summarize them all in the podcast notes as well. I want to sincerely thank you, Celine. You really inspired, moved and learned a lot from by you and learned a lot from you. And as always, Tamara and Roderick, my my love and respect for you both only gets stronger and deeper with each one of these because I learned a lot from each of you as well. So what I’d ask is, if you have any questions for any of us reach out on LinkedIn. Selena, would that be okay for you? All right. And with that, thank you, everybody. I hope you learned something. Until next time. Bye bye.