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ATD Blog

Are You a Forgery?


Mon Nov 03 2014

Are You a Forgery?

The greatest challenge for most business leaders is engaging people. Organizations need engaged employees in order to run efficient and competitive businesses focused on satisfying customer needs, and they also need to engage their customers in order to even be in business.

In either case, what many people simply forget is that a big part of engagement comes down to building relationships. And whether you immediately realize it or not, relationships have changed over the years.


In today’s busy world of email, texting, and social media, many times you “follow,” “like,” “connect,” and “friend” your way to connect with acquaintances.  You drop quick texts and emails here and there, focused on getting what want and in accomplishing what you need to get done. Meanwhile, companies have added FAQ sections on their websites, website chats, and automated phone answering systems—all aimed at improving customer experience.

Bottom line: most people have high-paced, high-speed, superficial relationships with a great many people. However, to want to buy from or work with someone, you first need to trust them. And trust requires authenticity.

Well, this concept may seem simple enough. In fact, right now you are probably saying to yourself something like, “Well I am on track…I am authentic.” It is one of those things that always make me laugh.

Indeed, chances are that if you ask anyone whether they are authentic, they will likely tell you they are. However, would they really be able to answer anything different?  If they were living a persona, wouldn’t that persona require them to say yes anyway?  Do you see the irony in the question?

Either way, there are some telltale behaviors that are an indication, as a leader, you may not be demonstrating your authenticity.

  • People around you comment that you seem to be an entirely different person at work versus outside of work.

  • You focus on short term details and are too busy to learn and participate in anything new (courses, conferences, training, workshops, and so forth).

  • You put yourself in only “safe” situations where you know you will be able to perform and you avoid situations where you might have to rely on others.

  • You avoid being at all vulnerable and avoid showing emotion.  You rely mainly on logic and directness in your communication style.

Your business persona has been developed over years and, of course, there is a comfort in being who you are.  The issue is—and you even know this based on your own experience—people see through people who are inauthentic. 

  • If someone asks you how you are and yet seems too busy to listen to the answer, then you know they really don’t care. 

  • If someone only calls you when they need something, then you don’t believe you are important to them beyond what they can get from you. 

  • If someone only gives you surface details about who they are then, you also won’t let them in. 

The same goes for your employees and your customers.  In order to engage them you need to be the real you.

Here are a couple of steps you can take immediately to become a more authentic you:

  • Phone one of your customers or clients and talk to them about the challenges they are having in their business, without selling them anything or without giving them any advice.  Ask them how you might help them beyond what you are currently doing today.

  • Pick something new to learn (maybe even from one of you employees) and make sure it is something you know almost nothing about. Admit you don’t know. Be vulnerable. And be a good student.

  • Take the time to ask someone how they are doing beyond simply saying, “How’s it going?” Ask them about their weekend, about what project they are working on, about what they like or dislike about their current position, etc. 

It is important to remember the more authentic you are (the more real you are), the more people will trust and respect you. This means they will be compelled to engage with you. 

Remember: If you don’t have followers, you are not leading.  Take the time to build your followers.


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