Authenticity is such a buzzword right now - we all want to eat authentic food, have authentic relationships, travel to authentic places, buy authentic brands and be our authentic selves.
There's also the notion that you should always be your authentic self at work too - and I agree with that...to a certain extent.
For example, the idea behind authentic leadership is that you're always totally honest with your team, that you encourage truthfulness, promote openness, that you value people more than profit and ethics, and that's all good.
However, it also demands that you show your vulnerabilities and that you're the same person in the office as you are at home. I believe that when you're a leader, you have different guises that you can and should draw from. You often have to show different versions of yourself and modify your behaviour to suit certain situations.
Theresa May is a really good example. She epitomises authentic leadership. She's fairly serious, maybe even a bit dull, and certainly an introvert. I mean, when the best you can come up with is: "I once ran through fields of wheat" when asked about the naughtiest thing you've ever done, that's quite something. Who on earth advised her? We know she's a vicar's daughter, but really? She could have joked about it and said, you know what? I haven't really done very much - I guess it's about time I went out and did something naughty! But, no, she was being entirely serious because she's determined to be authentic.
Because she's an introvert, she didn't want to do any of the TV debates or meet the general public ahead of the General Election, or meet the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in the immediate aftermath of the inferno. She was being true to herself, but it's just not okay in that situation. People wanted her to be out there, but she couldn't do it - she couldn't draw on another side of herself. And it's screwed her. Her popularity rating is currently -55.
This is despite that fact that she's a brilliant politician in many respects, and I think she'd be a very good Number Two. She's given her life to being a public servant. She's probably a good person in real life too, but you have to lead people when you're Prime Minister. That's the job. If she'd had some guidance about dialling up the extrovert side of herself and it wouldn't have been such a disaster. Instead, she stayed honest and authentically introverted - and that's not okay for a Prime Minister.
By being too authentic to yourself, you don't draw on your various personality traits when you may need to. What makes you YOU, isn't all good stuff after all. It shouldn't all be on display all the time.
If you have a thin skin and get offended too easily, it's said to be authentic leadership to show that you have that vulnerability - but I think that's the absolute worst idea if you're in management, for example. Tone that side of yourself down and turn the strong side of you up. If you're a bit shy, sometimes, you do have to dial up the gregarious, people-loving side of your personality if that's what's required.
I do believe in bringing your whole self to work - to do and say stuff you really believe in even if you think it will be frowned on. And I think it's good to show some vulnerability about certain things to show that you're a human being and not a business automaton.
But it's not always the best idea to show off the chinks in your armour. You have to be careful. Don't show all of yourself all of the time - basically, don't be too authentic, particularly if you're a leader. Just ask Theresa May.