In a world which increasingly expects HR to be all things to all people, how can you stay true to yourself and authentic to your business?
This was the question posed by Karen Saunders, Director of KS Coaching and Consulting, who joined us at our first virtual HR Development Programme. Karen introduced the group to the power of authenticity, specifically looking at how HR professionals can navigate their personal journey with authenticity.
With a background of 20 years in HR, including senior level positions, Karen explained how she had a ‘lightbulb moment’ in her personal development when qualifying as an Executive Coach several years ago. The insights she gained about self-awareness and authenticity triggered a change in the way she approached her role…with positive results.
Here is what we learnt from the session.
What does it mean to be authentic?
Karen shared a definition from Mike Robbins, author and expert in teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence:
"Authenticity is what gives us freedom to be ourselves and be comfortable with who we are, and it is also what gives us access to connecting with other people in a meaningful and genuine way.”
Referencing the work of experts such as Mike Robbins and Brené Brown, we learned that authenticity takes us beyond absolute honesty, with the addition of vulnerability. We looked at the value and impact of ‘connectedness’ and how allowing ourselves to ‘be seen’ can pave the way to more meaningful relationships.
Why is it important to be authentic in HR?
Karen stated that you don’t have to act like someone you’re not to be a great HR leader. However, she recognised that when HR is expected to be all things to all people, it can be easy to lose perspective of your authentic self when navigating your career.
It is important to show the human side of HR, as authenticity builds trust, which builds rapport and, in turn, enables HR professionals to make more meaningful and genuine connections.
In breakout groups and further discussion, we talked about how we ‘show up’ with authenticity at work, even in challenging situations, and Karen also added her own experiences and those of other successful HR leaders into the mix.
Build a personal model to perform your HR role with authenticity
HR professionals often neglect spending time on themselves as they are busy directing their time and energy to their colleagues. We were reminded of the importance of pausing and reflecting on our own purpose, considering how/if this shows up in our role, then adjusting accordingly to support the quest for authenticity.
Karen shared how, when setting up KS Coaching and Consulting, she reflected hard on what was important to her, and how her personal purpose and values could align to her business in the spirit of authenticity. In building her personal model, Karen added her goals to the front page of her website, so she has no choice but to hold herself accountable to them!
“Authenticity is a courageous process and a way of being, not a possession or an accomplishment,” Mike Robbins.
Karen reminded us that it takes practice to live your life authentically. While we may not manage it 24/7, it can pay back dividends when we do.
Surely that’s worth aspiring to.
Over 30 HR professionals attended the two sessions. We asked for their feedback on the session and here are some of the comments:
“Hearing Karen talk about herself and own personal experience, how when she worked on authenticity and saw the response from colleagues made it feel real. I think Karen was 'authentic' in her delivery which really showed. Thank you!”
“It was a great session to hit refresh and think about our own career. It's good to have something that inspires you. I really enjoyed the subject and found it relevant and relatable.”
“The session was very well put together from the set-up, invitation, joining instructions and delivery from an expert speaker, I honestly cannot suggest anything useful to add as I think you all did a wonderful job.”