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Many people are reviewing their relationship with work given how things have changed over the last few years. In working with people I noticed a number of shared themes and in response to these developed my MAGIC Model. This model outlines the core drivers for workplace health and wellbeing: Meaning, Authenticity, Ground Rules “I” and Curiosity. I have been exploring this model over the last couple of weeks and this week I am going to focus on Authenticity, which is the second module of the MAGIC framework. I also believe it is the absolute bedrock to psychological safety at work.
After a period of such enormous flux in the world, the value of being consistent and clear about who we are, has never been more important. Just as our Meaning provides us with an external support to tether to when we are feeling adrift; a clarity around who we are and the opportunity to be authentic to be that person consistently also provides us with an internal steadiness. We also need to go back to neuroscience; we know that our brains crave certainty. When there is certainty, it allows us to feel safe and secure.
In 2018 Google’s Project Aristotle determined the key characteristics of enhanced teams and the leader was psychological safety. So, this is not a nice to have but will also build your business prospects.
It feels like this makes sense, but we probably need to consider where we get it wrong in workplaces if we are going to figure out how to course correct and make work, work again.
Often with work, we have an idea of what we should look like in a certain role or position. Our internal dialogue might be that a manager looks a certain way or being a team member means to behave in a particular way and we try to morph into that person rather than being ourselves.
We might also have had the experience in a workplace where there was clear direction about the expectation; that you looked and behaved accordingly and to deviate from this reference point was not welcome. A set of corporate clones was what was required.
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Finally, I think we have also all been in meetings or part of conversations where our opinion was not encouraged at the very least or in the worst scenarios we were reprimanded or even humiliated for our opinion. It is very difficult to bring your authentic self into a culture where this type of behaviour is condoned.
Just like Meaning, Authenticity can feel a little overwhelming to consider. First let’s look at starting by understanding who we are. If we have been in an environment where we are expected to be something we are not or shamed for opinions or actions our first step is to remind yourself, about who we are and what that means from an everyday perspective.
To get started I want you to consider what your values are and narrow them down to two or three. My values are courage and connection, one of my colleague’s values are humility and order and one of the clients I worked with this week’s values were kindness and balance. We are all different. There are no rights or wrongs but it is an integral part of who you are and your story. There is a list of values on my website to get you started. Maybe cross out the ones that don’t resonate with you first to narrow the list down. You might take a week or two to do this exercise, just coming back to it every couple of days. I would really encourage you not to hurry just to take your time. Also, remember you can add to the list of values if there isn’t a value that feels right for you. I recently worked with someone who added the word vibrancy as one of her top two values.
Once you have your values, I would like you to outline three things you could do this week that would allow you to feel aligned with your values. This is the most important step so often we identify our values and leave them there. This initially feels good but it does last long. Where we get the real value is embedding these values into our life. That is where we see a difference. You might do this as a one-off exercise to get a better understanding of your values and clarity around who you are and what matters most to you. Alternatively, you might do what some of my clients do and use this as a regular check, maybe on a Sunday when you are looking at the week ahead, understanding what needs to be part of your week as a reminder to keep what is important to you front and centre. A way to keep you feeling steady in a world where many are feeling adrift.