Forbes – Leadership by Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member / August 10, 2022 at 11:24AM

Clipped from: 

The idea of bringing one’s “whole self” to work has been a major topic of conversation and thought leadership in the business world in recent years. Still, not everyone understands what it means, or how to do it. 

What is the best way for those who are new to the concept to approach the practice of being their whole, authentic selves in the workplace? Below, 14 members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss ways for professionals to project their whole selves in all they do at work. 

Featured members share effective ways to bring your ″whole self″ to work.

Forbes Coaches Council members share effective ways to bring your “whole self” to work. 

Photos courtesy of the individual members.  

1. Accept Yourself As You Are 

Most people show up to work with a facade of what they think others want them to be to gain acceptance. When we remove the facade and allow our true selves to come through, we begin to embark on authentic leadership. This journey starts with accepting yourself as you are. When we accept ourselves, we project relaxed confidence outward in a very trusting, impactful, and sincere way. It takes courage. – Michelle Anne, MichelleAnne 

2. Learn How Others Think And Feel About You 

Your whole self can be seen in the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that others have about you. Now you see the concept in a whole new way. Said another way, it’s your personal brand. Your personal brand is the feeling that others have about you. Everything you do is an extension of your personal brand. Start by asking about and understanding the thoughts, feelings, and emotions others have about you. – Colby B. Jubenville, 

3. Align What You Say With What You Believe 

When what we say is not aligned with what we believe, our bodies may give us away with unconscious gestures, such as covering our mouths while saying something we’re unsure about. Saying things like “this is how I see it, but I am open to other points of view” or “on further thought” gives us the option of expressing a felt experience or viewpoint, offering our true selves, while leaving room to course correct. – Karyn Gallant, Gallant Consulting Group 

4. Demonstrate Values Aligned With Your Organization’s And Team’s Values 

Authentic leaders align their purpose, values, self-discipline, relationships, and hearts to those of the organization or team they are leading. If we take values, for example, authentic leaders demonstrate their core values through their behaviors. Others will recognize your core values without you even having to describe them because they are clearly reflected in your demonstrated behaviors. “All business is personal… Make your friends before you need them.” – Dennis Kight, it works! LLC 

5. Use The Three C’s To Engage With Others 

Bringing your whole self to work is about you being real—the best and most authentic version of you. This means engaging with your teams and colleagues using the three C’s of courage, compassion and connection. It could be having the courage to say “I don’t know,” sitting with someone going through a tough time at home or asking your colleagues for feedback about what they think you should be doing. – Alexandra Salamis, Integral Leadership Design 

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify? 

6. Build Reciprocal Relationships 

There is no “authentic self”—a personality is not one concept. “Personality” stems from the Latin word “persona” and literally means “mask.” We learn to adapt to different environments using masks. You don’t have to bring your most vulnerable self to work. You need to adapt your “work mask” to be as effective as possible. The most important task is to build reciprocal relationships. – Arvid Buit, TRUE Leadership 

7. Make An Effort To Connect 

Authentic leaders are more transparent, show vulnerability and make an effort to connect with and understand the individuals on their team. Who you are in your personal life should be the person who shows up at work. During one-on-ones, leaders can project their authentic selves by sharing a bit about their own lives as they seek to learn more about their team members. – Wendy Hanson, BetterManager 

8. Know Your Fundamental Behavior Styles 

There is no such thing as work-life balance. We all have a life, and work is part of it. When you are not your authentic self at work, or you have a persona, that takes energy, especially for the many who are now working remotely from their homes. Having self-awareness and knowing your fundamental behavior styles and how to best leverage the styles of others is how you can best operate as your authentic self. – Denise Russo, Maxwell Leadership 

9. Understand Your Own Blocks And Barriers 

A great start to becoming more authentic is to understand one’s own personal blocks and barriers. By recognizing what holds us back, we then have the opportunity to get past them and become who we are meant to become. Having an accountability partner might be what it takes to get the process started. – Robert J Moore, Magnetic Entrepreneur Inc.™ 

10. Follow The Rules And Etiquette Of Your Workplace 

Unless you are an influencer on social media, the workplace should be ruled by civility. That means you are not at work to push people beyond their boundaries. It is also fair to ask you to be more tolerant of people’s opinions when you disagree with them. If the rules of civility are fair, everyone can abide in a highly diverse and inclusive environment. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc. 

11. Share Your ‘Real’ Self And Encourage Others To Share Theirs 

Share your “real” self—your successes and your failures, your strengths and areas for improvement, your gifts and flaws, and allow others to share theirs, too, without risk of teasing or judgment. Allow your people to learn more about what you do when not working, and show interest in their “outside” selves, too. Be vulnerable about your hopes and dreams and encourage others to share theirs, too. – Jennifer Wilson, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC 

12. Invite Feedback And Dialogue 

Bringing your “whole self” to work can be awkward if you attempt to do so all at once and without a consistent approach that creates safety for others. It’s best to start small, be open about mistakes and invite feedback and open dialogue. If you add vulnerability when processing your own learnings, you will begin to create a safe space to bring your “whole self” to work along with others. – Abe Brown, Certified Flourishing Coaching 

13. Start With Self-Searching 

It’s not that difficult to project your own authentic self in all situations, including work. Start with a self-search exercise to answer a few basic questions about who you are as a person. What makes you unique? What do you value in yourself the most? Come up with a short list of what resonates at the deepest level and make sure that this guides you wherever you show up, whatever the context. – Agata Dulnik, Ph.D., Global Leadership Experts 

14. Become Aware Of Potential Blind Spots 

Projecting your authentic self requires knowing yourself, including your unique style of leadership, core values and interpersonal style. Bringing your “whole self” to work, however, doesn’t mean “letting it all hang out” or using the excuse, “That’s just the way I am.” Become aware of your potential blind spots and be good at self-management. Being “authentic” is not an excuse for behaving badly. – Christine Allen, Insight Business Works