News Flash: You Can’t Fake Being Authentic

A lot is being said and written about being authentic these days because so many people aren’t.Negatives Positives Computer Keys Showing Plus And Minus Alternatives Analysis And Decisions Think about a police chief who fudges his department’s response to a crisis. Or, government and corporate leaders that promise one thing and then do another.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being real or genuine, and telling the truth. You can’t tell someone you’re being authentic. You have to demonstrate it by your behavior. You have to be who you say you are.

Employees value a CEO who is honest and not afraid to open himself up and show some emotion. We coached a senior partner of a law firm for several years. One day he was asked to speak to the partnership about what the firm meant to him.

When talking about the firm in rehearsal, he was overcome with emotion and had difficulty getting the words out. He kept practicing because we knew that once he was able to manage his emotions, he could hold his own on stage.

On the day of the meeting, Jim got through his remarks with a catch or two in his voice and just a few tears in his eyes. His ability to show emotion may have surprised some of the partners, but they were very touched by his authenticity and his love of the firm.

A few years later his peers elected him the managing partner. Jim had built a level of trust by his openness and authenticity. He was a leader they wanted to follow.

You can’t be a good speaker by wrapping yourself in bubble wrap. You can’t be a good leader by withholding your feelings.

Mingling With Employees

When your name is on the door, you can never be just “one of the guys.” Counterfeit Authentic MagnifiedIt’s a delicate balance between being aloof and developing a genuine rapport with employees.

Bill Hewlett and David Packard, the founders of Hewlett Packard, practiced management by walking around, a concept popularized in the blockbuster book In Search of Excellence. This means making spontaneous visits to employees to learn first hand what’s really going in the company and getting valuable feedback from employees. These visits are a great morale booster.

But you can’t just drop into the company cafeteria once a year and pretend that you’re interested in your employees. That’s just going through the motions. It’s not authentic.

Good leaders meet with their employees regularly. One CEO we work with invites a different group of employees to dine with him in the cafeteria every other week. He learns more than he would by sitting in his office and it demonstrates his genuine commitment.

The founder and now retired CEO of Costco, Jim Sinegal, was labeled a “retailing genius” in a CNBC special about the retailer (below). A shirtsleeves leader, he spent most of his time on the road visiting his warehouse stores. He wanted to know from store managers what was working and what wasn’t. Sinegal could then apply what he learned to the entire network.

Everyone from the newsstand vendor to regular employees knew the late Allan “Ace” Greenberg, chairman of Bear Stearns in the 1990s, who retired long before the firm went under in the financial meltdown.

He was quite the character and much to everyone’s surprise enjoyed his training sessions in preparation for the firm’s IPO. One day, Ace invited me to sit next to him, on what was referred to as his throne, overlooking the trading floor. He said, “Come on over and sit down, Joyce,” and then proceeded to call new employees.

Welcome to Bear Stearns. We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team and I know you’ll do a great job. Here’s my phone number. Use it! If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up but let me know about it immediately – and don’t make the same mistake twice.”

That was being authentic! Ace never wore a jacket at work, his shirt sleeves were always rolled up, and he knew everyone in the firm by name.

Authenticity is engrained in our DNA. If you’re not being authentic your inner voice will tell you. If you’re a speaker, your audience will sense it in your demeanor.

If you’re a PR person talking to the media, you will be found out if you’re not being authentic with the news about your company. The reporter will go to another source in your company, or to a competitor, or search the web.

It pays dividends to be authentic. Authenticity is more valuable than currency, because you can never go broke no matter how much you spend.

Will Wearing Summer Business Casual Damage Your Image?

Naughty teen with expressive faceIt’s hard to believe that spring is here and summer is just around the corner! As consultants who work in different corporations or agencies almost every day and we’ve noticed that many people have taken business casual to the extreme in the way they dress for work. What you wear can send out mixed messages.

Cover the Cleavage

We’ve been lucky so far but 2018 weather has been challenging. There is no reason to believe that summer 2018 will be anything other than different and bring us challenges about what to wear. Sure if it’s a scorcher out there that doesn’t mean women can wear tight, low-cut T-shirts that reveal too much. No matter the temperature, short shorts have no place at work – ever! No one will be taken seriously dressing in shorts or tank tops in a corporate environment.

We’ve been surprised and disappointed to see that many women are dressing down to the point that during a recent training session we felt we had to say something.

A beautiful young woman took me aside and confided, “You’ve helped me to overcome my little girl mannerisms and to feel more confident and in control. But I recently got a powerful new boss and when I’m with him, I revert back to being a little girl. What can I do?”

We pointed out that she was sending mixed messageSerious office worker at his desk, looking at cameras by wearing little black shorts with a black top showing too much cleavage. Her long brown hair was twisted behind one ear and cascading down one shoulder. The hairstyle was much too seductive and drew attention to her well endowed figure.

She was also wearing cheap flip-flops which are always inappropriate for the office. She didn’t convey the professional image required to have her boss, and others in the company, perceive her as a rising young executive.

She was standing out, but for all the wrong reasons. It was also a sign of disrespect to her boss, who grew up in a generation that dressed in suits and ties before business casual became the norm during the Internet era.

Wash Your Hair

Men aren’t immune to this new trend towards what has become “sloppy casual.” Recently, we were conducting a presentation training at a hip new technology company. In walked one of the directors, a man in his mid-40s. His long, dirty hair fell to his shoulders.

He was unshaven. His clothes were so wrinkled that he looked like an unmade bed. His shoes and belt should have made it to the dumpster long ago.

His offices weren’t any better, with files and debris strewn everywhere. It was a real turn off. We suggested that this might not be the kind of impression he wanted to convey to clients and prospects, not to mention staff.

Reshape Your Image 

It isn’t too late to restock your summer wardrobe with appropriate clothing. Stores are having sales in preparation for the Fall season, so you’ll also get good deals.

Long skirts are “in.” Fashionable sleeveless dresses and skirts are always in style. Be wary of tight knits that can be too revealing. Dressy sandals and “peep toes” can complement your outfit (but, again, no sloppy flip-flops). Some of the places we work actually ban sandals, sling back and open toe shoes! If you’re going on an interview, it’s important to know the dress code in advance and adhere to it.

It’s easy for men to achieve a professional look in a crisp, clean shirt and pressed pants. You don’t need a tie but you do need a shine on your shoes and a decent belt with a simple but elegant buckle.

As you plan your fall wardrobe, take inventory of what you own. Donate the clothes you’ll never fit into again to charities like Dress for Success which provides clothing and career counseling to underserved women entering the work force, or Career Gear, that does the same for men.

Or, consider donating your out-of-date clothing to a thrift shop or Goodwill. Then step into one of your new outfits. You will feel like a million bucks and convey confidence. You will look like the professional you are!

Browse fashion collections on-line, in the fashion magazines or in the stores and visit your favorite boutiques to learn what’s in style. Select mix-and-match jackets and pants to stretch your budget. Buy several colorful scarves or ties to add variety. Get those bangs that fall in your eyes trimmed.

You’re guaranteed to be complimented on your refreshed look as now you stand out for all the right reasons. Remember that it is a good idea to dress for the job you want and not the job you have!

A Great Teacher Can Change Our Lives Forever

Great teacher can change lives

Novak Djokovic

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops” — Henry Adams

In an exciting five-set encounter, Novak Djokovic claimed his second Wimbledon tennis title in 2014. While his talent and tenacity pulled out the win, Djokovic didn’t forget how he reached the pinnacle of tennis.

In accepting the winning trophy, he paid tribute to his family, his team and to “my first coach Jelena Gencic.” When she died in 2013, Djokovic wrote a letter, while playing at the French Open, honoring her for changing his life forever. Here is an excerpt: …Read more…

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Who’s the Fairest…it’s My Selfie!

Instagram SelfiesThe selfie craze started with the growth in popularity of Instagram. This photo-sharing site enables you to choose a filter to transform the look and feel of a self-image posted from your smart phone to Instagram or other social media networks.

President Obama made headlines when he took a selfie of himself, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Selfies can serve a purpose in presenting yourself to the public, but there are guidelines you should follow, like …Read more…