While I don’t care for reptiles, chameleons are beautiful and interesting ones. They can change their skin color for regulating body temperature or protection. They also possess a long, projectile tongue used to catch their prey.
Can you think of someone who reminds you of a chameleon? They change opinions with the wind (based on who’s around them at the time) and often lash out with hurtful words and actions. They use this approach to influence. Do you sometimes see yourself in this description? Is this what other people say about you?
If you don’t like being on the receiving end of people like this, keep in mind that others don’t appreciate it when you come across this way, either.
What is authenticity?
There’s a better way! Leading with authentic influence is the opposite of chameleon-like behavior. In fact, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines authenticity with words such as originality, not false or imitation; being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.
Showing up with authenticity doesn’t mean you always show up in your raw form. If your natural tendency is enter a room like a bull in a china shop, every situation doesn’t warrant that type of behavior. You still need to consider what a situation calls for and engage with respect and professionalism.
Part of the problem is, you don’t really know your authentic self and don’t know how to show up and interact in authentic ways. What’s at risk? Disrespect, lack of credibility and political clout, strained relationships, a derailed career, and greater stress and anxiety.
How do you fix that?
3 Keys to Building Authentic Influence
These three steps are key to becoming an authentic leader.
- Discover Your Authentic Self – Discovering your authentic self emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and being informed about who you are, your preferences, and what drives you. Exploring your core values and insights from assessments can help identify characteristics that authentically reflect you.
- Learn to be Adaptable, Not Artificial – Sometimes stress or being in an uncomfortable position or situation can turn you into a chameleon. You’re less in control of your emotions and actions when stress arises. Instead, consider how might you need to adapt your style to best align with the culture, values, and needs of the situation, your team, and organization.
- Practice Humility – Humility is removing the focus from yourself. That doesn’t mean you don’t value yourself, or can’t have and show self-confidence. It’s all in your ‘how’. Focus on why and who you’re here to serve. That’s what grounds you. Beware of too much humility (impostor syndrome), or too little humility (arrogance / superiority complex). Either extreme can be troublesome.
Which of these three keys is the greatest opportunity for you? Is it time to make some changes? What can you do today to begin building greater authentic influence?