Cultivating an Authentic Organization

Tom Kane
Course designer for Groh™ online academy of leadership

One of the most important intangible qualities in the workplace is authenticity. Since we have begun working on new content, both the new film “Everything is Connected,” starring Abe Thompson, as well as developing compliance courses for our new e-learning platform, I decided to do some research on the concept of authenticity and transparency in the workplace. I found several reports on studies from Rice University, the University of Houston and George Mason University that relate authenticity to job effectiveness and satisfaction. It may be easy to quickly jump ahead by over-promising and under-delivering, or through misrepresentation of yourself, but these tactics will soon develop a poor reputation that will be difficult to shed. In the following clip from “Everything is Connected,” McGhee Williams Osse, Co-CEO of Burrell Communications discusses why authenticity is important to her.

Transparency and authenticity starts at the top. When leadership embraces individuality, it will have immediate implications on the rest of the workforce. Organizations that encourage and celebrate authenticity tend to attract and keep higher caliber employees, and maintain better relationships, both intra-office, and with clients.

An environment of authenticity can help your organization improve services. Once employees buy in to a culture that encourages them to speak their minds and share ideas, everyone can work towards the common goal of furthering the brand. Companies built on trust can fast-track improvements that may never be possible in a dysfunctional environment.


Here are five tips to help develop authenticity in your organization: 

Hire and retain authentic people. Hiring and retaining people who are genuine in the first place can vastly help encouraging a culture built on trust. This means recognizing and rewarding those who are authentic in everything they do.

Give it to them straight. If you find yourself trying to come up with a way to spin the information you provide your employees, you are already limiting how transparent your organization can be. Your workforce will appreciate good news all the more if they are given bad news without a false silver lining.

Maintain an open dialogue. The fact that you have silent employees usually doesn’t mean that they have nothing to say, it’s most likely a sign that they aren’t comfortable speaking up. Have one-on-one or small group conversations to gain some momentum and open up the floor for discussion.

Give credit. When employees give their honest opinion, publically acknowledge and celebrate their input, even if it’s something you may not have wanted to hear. Negative opinions (provided they are truly authentic) are just as valuable as positive support, if not more so.

Give authentic employees positions that allow them to influence others. Putting employees that exemplify your organization’s culture in mentorship positions will help the company’s ideals propagate among the workforce. The right role models can influence many more individuals than solely top-down leadership.
With an increasing emphasis on trust and agility in the corporate world, authenticity and transparency could be more important than ever in ensuring successful cooperation and communication.