Author: Olivia Parrish,
Published: 11.01.22

Why authenticity is key to creating a high performance team

Many colleagues have reservations about being their ‘true selves’ at work. Whether it’s a lack of self-confidence, concerns about what others might think or a repressive workplace culture, there are lots of factors that might hold colleagues back from being themselves in the workplace.

However, a wealth of studies have shown that individuals who can’t be authentic at work won’t perform at the highest level. So, if you’re looking to take your team’s performance to the next level, letting them be their true selves is key. Find out more about what authenticity at work means and how to achieve it.

What does being authentic at work mean?

For some, the thought of being more authentic at work might make them actively squirm with awkwardness. For others, it may seem like a distant possibility. Despite this, a recent Havard Business Review survey found that 72% of people felt like they were authentic at work, with the majority saying that it took three months of working in a new job before they felt able to be their true selves.

Being authentic at work means feeling able to express their real values and personality and act in a way that is most natural to them. Rather than feeling pressure to change their behaviour, being unable to offer an opinion or having to think twice before they speak, authentic people are confident in the way they talk, act and work.

Some of the signs that people can be their authentic selves at work include:

  • Individuals express their opinions freely without judgement.
  • Having open communication about personal boundaries, deadlines and workloads.
  • Asking and offering feedback without fear.
  • A lack of workplace politics or unhealthy internal competition.
  • A wealth of different perspectives that are freely shared amongst the team.

Indeed, fostering authenticity between teams has been shown to offer many benefits and, as a result, become a priority for many businesses and workplace cultures.

How does authenticity improve performance?

Creating a workplace that promotes authentic speech and actions amongst teams has been shown by various studies to hold benefits for both individual colleagues and businesses.

Authentic leaders get results.

Rather than playing the character of ‘the boss’, leaders who are authentic with their teams have been shown to drive better performance, with inauthentic leaders only driving 23% engagement in their team. By being honest about what drives them, their values, strengths and weaknesses, leaders encourage greater transparency in their teams, improve levels of self-awareness and inspire faith in their colleagues.

Greater innovation.

Colleagues who feel psychologically safe are more likely to be authentic in the way they express their opinions and ideas. By encouraging teams to challenge the status quo, take risks and express themselves freely, you can drive greater innovation within your business. By putting no barriers or limits in place for your teams (other than being constructive and positive) you can open up new opportunities commercially too.

Better communication.

As well as being more authentic, characteristics of high performing teams also include holding constructive meetings, giving and receiving compliments more frequently and picking up the phone more often. All of these habits are hallmarks of better, more open colleague communication. In short, when colleagues feel able to express themselves more authentically, they can communicate with others more effectively.

Improved productivity.

When colleagues are able to show their true selves, they are able to make deeper, more meaningful connections with others. In turn, this means enhanced levels of teamwork and productivity. Rather than worrying about other people’s opinions or judgement, colleagues can focus on solving problems by sharing their individual perspectives freely and working together towards a common goal.

Enhances colleague wellbeing.

In one of the topic area’s most comprehensive pieces of research, Anna Sutton and a team of researchers from the University of Waikato in New Zealand found that being authentic work had a significant positive impact on employees’ wellbeing and engagement levels. Indeed, the value of authenticity in the workplace was recognised and appreciated across all age groups and demographics, making it a worthwhile goal for every type of business.

How can you promote authenticity in your workplace?

Although encouraging greater authenticity clearly has benefits for both your team and your business, it can be difficult to make the cultural changes and strategies required to make it happen. Here are some ways you can start the process.

Lead by example.

Employees who see authentic leaders will feel able to be their true selves at work too. This doesn’t mean oversharing with your employees, but showing that you too can be vulnerable, have weaknesses and need to ask for help. By demonstrating to your team how you’re working to overcome these challenges in a positive and productive way, you encourage them to be more authentic in return.

Teach communication skills.

Knowing how to talk and how to communicate are two very different things. Listening skills, being assertive and feeding back effectively are all skills that need to be learnt. So, whether you employ an external coach or simply reward positive behaviours, teaching effective communication should be a pillar of your strategy towards greater authenticity.

Coach self-awareness.

Understanding your emotions and how they impact others will help colleagues to be authentic without creating misunderstandings or hurting others’ feelings. Self-aware leaders aren’t just a must-have, but some form of coaching in self-awareness will also help your team to be both authentic and productive in the long term.

Create OOO opportunities.

To truly understand who they’re working with, colleagues need to see each other outside of the office. So, whether you run regular social events, team-building activities or encourage regular playtime in the workplace, getting your whole team (including your leaders) to be their true OOO selves will help remove social hierarchies and build genuine connections.

Get expert help.

If you want to help your team be more authentic and ensure your business feels the benefits of this change, it may be beneficial for you to get expert help.

Our experts can design and develop programmes to help your team work more authentically and perform at a higher level. To find out more about how we can support you, get in touch by calling 0800 048 7742 or emailing

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