Being Genuine Part II

by Ron

In my last blog post, I set up this series of posts based on an article written by Travis Bradberry in Forbes a couple of years ago titled “12 Habits of Genuine People.”

Here is his list of 12:

  1. They don’t try to make people like them.
  2. They don’t pass judgment.
  3. They forge their own paths.
  4. They are generous.
  5. They treat everyone with respect.
  6. They aren’t motivated by material things.
  7. They are trustworthy.
  8. They are thick-skinned.
  9. They put away their phones.
  10. They aren’t driven by ego.
  11. They aren’t hypocrites.
  12. They don’t brag.

I would like to add my comments and observations to these over the next few blogs.

Ego, Hypocrite, Braggart

Let me start by consolidating the last three on the list, Genuine people aren’t driven by ego, aren’t hypocrites and don’t brag. These three are related in some way.

Ego and bragging are driven by fear. Every time someone says to me, “That person certainly has a big ego”, my first reaction is to wonder what it is they fear. I’m going to suggest that we all have a fear of “being found out.” I know that I deal with this one a lot. Once they discover that I’m just a simple guy from a small town with a degree in engineering (rather than psychology or organizational development) they’ll wonder why I’m here to be a team and leadership consultant/coach. But if we realize that we each bring a unique experience, understanding, and curiosity to every situation, we begin to realize that we do indeed have value. We don’t need to brag about it or let our ego get in the way.

Being a hypocrite is slightly different in that they don’t necessarily practice what they preach. The root of the word meant “stage actor”. The actor was pretending to be someone they weren’t. Being a hypocrite is putting up a false front, pretending to be someone you’re not. It takes the concept of “being found out” one step further. A hypocrite has no intention of being found out. No intention of being genuine or real. They’ll put on their game face and keep up the false front in any circumstance. You never really know who they are or what they really stand for.

I have two experiences with my clients that penetrate their “game face.” One is when I do a feedback session with them and another is when I run an exercise I call “Human Beings, not Human Doings” in team sessions.

Shedding the Game Face

As part of my consulting practice, I often do 360 feedback sessions. It gains the term 360 because it gathers data from all around the candidate, Direct Reports, Peers, and Boss.

I’ve noticed through the years that my client will walk into these sessions with a very strong “game face.” Whatever they see as their signature approach, direct, unyielding, humorous, carefree, it doesn’t make a difference, they’re determined to maintain that game face through the session.

However, as we begin to investigate the depths of the feedback and the responses from the 360 are different than the self-assessment, I notice a change in their face. It’s a real physical change. Muscles begin to relax or deform, eyes seem less steely, the shape of the mouth can change dramatically. When they begin to drop their protective barrier and begin receiving real, direct feedback their game face begins to change. Their face begins to change. They turn to a more genuine person.

Another exercise I run is Human Beings, not Human Doings. In this exercise performed with a team, each person talks about people or events which have profoundly shaped their values and behaviors. For a moment people are talking about who they are, not what they do. This exercise has never failed to include tears, hearty laughter, great sympathy, and real understanding. For a moment, people have shed their game face.

Genuine Person

When you’re a genuine person, there is no need for ego, hypocrisy or bragging. Every human being is unique, wonderful, enjoyable, enthusiastic and curious. Don’t hide behind your game face. Don’t be an actor on stage. Be a genuine human being. People will want to be part your world and what you stand for. This is the basis for great leadership.

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