These are all positive words that are usually offered as compliments.
However, more and more I’m hearing these same words used to describe — or more precisely, excuse — bad behaviour.
Recently I heard a manager shout at an employee and call him an idiot in front of his colleagues. His colleagues, fortunately, didn’t think this was appropriate behaviour and a couple of them said so. The manager just waived their objections aside. He said he was from a suburb of Auckland where people called a spade a spade. He’d been bought up this way and was just being himself – authentic.
The man is clearly deluded if he believes that being a jerk means he’s authentic!
I can kind of see how people might get the idea that they need to show different aspects of their personality to be considered authentic or real. But that doesn’t take into account that, as human beings we are constantly evolving.
You are not even the same person you were yesterday
Millions of cells in your body have changed, you’ve had new thoughts and insights that will have altered how you think – even if only slightly.
Oftentimes these small, daily changes might be almost imperceptible
It’s when you look back at your growth over a longer time-frame that you become more fully aware of the changes you’ve made. You might have been on a training course, worked with people who have challenged your thinking or had some life experience that turned everything you previously thought upside-down.
Although the manager in question was probably in his middle fifties, it seems he had never learnt or realised that being nasty to people is not the way to build their confidence, get the best from them or ensure that they follow him to the ends of the earth. Instead, he used his background and upbringing to excuse his lack of people skills, thoughtlessness and basic rudeness. This is not authenticity.
Authenticity means being original and genuine
This effectively means that our authenticity must change as we learn, adapt and grow. If this weren’t the case we’d all still be behaving like 5-year-olds. Authenticity really means incorporating and using all the skills you have to be the best you, you can be — right now.
The manager’s behaviour has a different name
It’s called being an asshole! Just like the dinosaurs, people who don’t adapt and grow become extinct. Let’s hope dinosaur managers like the one in question will also become extinct in the not too distant future, and that truly authentic people who know how to adapt and get the best from their staff, flourish.