You might recognize the following lyrics as the refrain from the 1978 song “Who Are You” by The Who. This song came to mind as I thought about two books I recently read, both about authenticity. I invite you to consider if your team members or your customers might wonder these words about you:
Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Do your team members know who you are? Do they know what you value? Do they know what motivates you? Do they know your weaknesses as well as your strengths?
What about your customers? Have you built an honest relationship with them? Do you share vulnerability with them? Do they know the real you and what your company really stands for?
On Fig Leaves and Fear
In his newest book, “Getting Naked,” Patrick Lencioni uses his storytelling skills to teach the value of building a transparent relationship with customers. Instead of walking in the door determined to sell the customer on your product, he suggests approaching the customer relationship with a consultant’s approach; get to know your customer first, then work with them on ideas and solutions to challenges.
He also reminds us that it is OK not to have all the answers. Learn right along with your customer. Lencioni helps us see – and suggests how to overcome – the three barriers to this type of nakedness:
- Fear of losing the business
- Fear of being embarassed
- Fear of feeling inferior
These are very strong fears, indeed. However, if we can get past them, and really open ourselves up to our customers, the loyalty that we are given in return will be invaluable. Customers will not have to wonder, “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”
Mike Robbins helps us see the power of authenticity in all of our relationships. His book, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken,” helps readers get in touch with their authentic selves – not an easy task. However, once we are completely authentic with ourselves, we open up our relationships to new depths of honesty, transparency and meaning. Robbins proposes these five principles as the keys to living authentically:
- Know yourself
- Transform your fear
- Express yourself
- Be bold
- Celebrate who you are
These are not easy concepts. either. It is challenging to live in a place of authenticity. As leaders, imagine the possibilities of relationships with our team members that is built on authenticity. What a powerful approach to the workplace! Robbins lays out a path for cooperative relationships working toward shared goals through mutual undertanding! If we can find our authentic self and then share ourselves without fear, our team members will not wonder, “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”
What experiences do you have sharing your authentic self with a customer or team member? How risky did it feel? What was the outcome? What can we learn from your experience?
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Image Sources: fraserjohnson.co.uk, youtube