We place a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect in business and to always have it together. But the truth is, we are all just human beings trying to do our best. When you show up as your authentic self, you create the opportunity for deeper connections with your team and clients. They come to see you as a real person, not just a logo or a company name. And when they feel connected to you, they’re more likely to do business with you.
Of course, there is a balance to be struck here. We don’t want to be so vulnerable that we are seen as weak or incompetent, and we don’t want to overshare. But being afraid to show your true self can make it hard for others to build a connection with you. It is a delicate dance, but one that’s worth doing if you want to create a business that truly connects to the people you serve.
How to be an authentic leader
If you’re not sure how to begin being more vulnerable and authentic in your business, here are a few ideas:
Be real with your audience
Share your personal values, your story, your struggles, and your successes. Your audience will appreciate your candor and will be more likely to connect with you on a deeper level.
Be transparent about your process
Let people get a behind-the-scenes look into certain aspects of your business. Show them how you do what you do and why you do it. This helps establish your expertise and gives prospects the clarity they need to engage with you.
Be vulnerable in your marketing
Don’t be afraid to show who you’re and what you stand for. Show your authentic life, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone. Especially if you’re in the business of coaching or helping others, allowing them a glimpse into your own life can be helpful in building relationships.
Finding balance between sharing and oversharing
We all know THAT person — the over-sharer. Within minutes of meeting them, you know everything about their lives, from their marital struggles to their digestive issues. And while honesty is essential in your relationship with your audience, you don’t want to go overboard. There’s a balance to be struck between being vulnerable and being an over-sharer.
If you share too much, you risk boring or scaring away your prospects and clients. After all, they’re coming to you for a service. But if you don’t share enough, you may never give them the opportunity to get to know the real you. The trick is to be deliberate about the information you share and the way you share it. When you do this, you can create powerful connections that will help you grow your business and be a successful leader.
Let’s look at the example of sharing a story about a difficult time in your life. You want to be honest and authentic, but you don’t necessarily want to spill your guts to anyone who will hear you.
Be mindful of how much you’re sharing and why you’re sharing it. If you can do this, you will be on your way to creating authentic connections that will help you grow your business.
Danielle Moss, the owner of The Everygirl, an online resource helping shape creative, career-driven women, navigated sharing her personal life in a balanced way. Her daughter had cancer, and she openly talked about her treatment and navigating dealing with her diagnosis, but she never specifically talked about her exact type of cancer. She didn’t get into the nitty-gritty of it all, but she was open with her audience and gave them an opportunity to connect with her on a deeper level. She also used this awful situation to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research.
Dealing with negative reactions to our vulnerability
Being authentic and vulnerable means opening yourself up to the possibility of negative reactions. You want to remember that not everyone is going to respond positively to your vulnerability, especially if they aren’t used to it. Some people may see it as a weakness or as a sign that you’re not in control of your business. So you want to brace yourself for negative reactions and have a plan for how to deal with them.
One way to do this is to practice responding to negative reactions constructively and positively. This will help you stay calm and collected if you encounter negativity in the real world.
Try out a few of these responses when you encounter negative reactions:
- “I choose to share my personal experiences because they’ve made me stronger and have taught me valuable lessons.”
- “Even though I’m sharing this personal experience, don’t feel like you need to do the same if you aren’t comfortable sharing.”
- “I appreciate your feedback. It’s always good to hear different perspectives.”
The bottom line: authentic leadership is GOOD leadership
At the end of the day, being a vulnerable and authentic leader is a risk. But it can pay off big time if you’re willing to take it. So go out there and be the authentic person you were meant to be! Your business will thank you for living a more authentic life.
If you’re ready to embrace your whole self and lead from a place of authenticity, book a complementary assessment now and let’s strategize about the best ways for you to show up.