Authentic organizations deliver on their promises. They make sure that their reputations truly match the reality their customers experience. They deliver on quality and service “promises” by actually providing what they say they offer and they do so consistently. To pull that off, it takes alignment of culture from the top of the organization to the bottom – based on an uncompromising fidelity to the organization’s core values. There is no other way to insure a passion for excellence and adherence to the company’s mission that extends to all ranks of the organization, in good times or in bad.
Organizations Are Being Tested
Make no mistake, these days are tough ones for top executives. Businesses are being asked to deal with the enormous impact that globalization as well as the development of digital technologies that have led to an “always on” work environment, touching every aspect of our lives. As if this were not enough of a challenge, organizations face new levels of competition for market share and whole new set of demands arising from rapidly changing customer and stakeholder needs. These stakeholders and customers are fortunate to have at their disposal access to a bounty of information, including alternate sources for goods and services.
As a result of these challenges, every organization is being tested in terms of meeting these demands while remaining authentic in adhering to their fundamental corporate core values. This includes being passionate about and not compromising on:
- their commitment to excellence in design
- their delivery and pricing of products and services
- their support of their customers and employees
- their practice of ethics, honesty and integrity
Smart leaders understand the importance of organizational authenticity and know that a “profit at all costs” strategy will lose customers and lead their companies out of business.
The Power of Authenticity To Create Passion and Feed Customer Experience
With authenticity comes power. In fact, authenticity and the power associated with it has roots in quantum physics. The actions, words and thoughts of employees have a tangible energy associated with them. That energy, which we all emit, affects those around us, including our customers. Thus, authenticity and integrity are qualities and values that people can “feel.” For that reason, authenticity has the power to change the experience our customers have during interactions with our business.
Customer experiences are created moment by moment by the employees of the business. Simply put, leaders need to know that employees are making real-time decisions and taking appropriate actions on the fly that protect the organization and serve it well. In the absence of a strong culture and organizational core value system to guide them, managers and employees may not behave or make choices that are authentic to what the business portrays in its desired image.
Business leaders must accomplish greatness through the acts of others functioning in an organizational setting. In fact, that is what leading is all about – effectuating execution through others. That job is made easier when those being led possess the same organizational DNA as the top executive and share core values and passion that are reinforced by a strong and healthy culture. “Values-aligned” executives, managers and employees benefit the entire organization by demonstrating predictable and favorable decision-making capabilities and behaviors that are reflective of the executive management mindset and are authentic to the organization’s mission.
Jill J. Morin, “3EO” (one of three co-CEOS) of Kahler Slater, defines organizational authenticity as follows:
“The values, purpose, and passions that are at the heart of why any business, institution, or organization exists, and which drive what the organization is trying to achieve, as well as how it goes about doing it.”
Authenticity can be thought of as a compass to steer the organization in the right direction. When management provides the core values “compass” to help influence and guide behavior, those closest to the action in the organization can respond with appropriate decisions and actions. This compass can steer businesses through choppy waters and deliver them to calm seas without compromising on their values. The rank and file employees of the business can then unite to responsibly serve as delegates of the business and promote a shared set of common objectives that reflect well on the organization.
Companies are facing unprecedented challenges in today’s business environment and the authenticity of leaders is truly being tested. For organizations to demonstrate authenticity, the culture must be well-founded around strong core values to help influence and guide behavior. Likewise, businesses must strive for organizational structures that consistently reinforce the values of the business, helping to institutionalize the shared values into the culture. Employees with the latitude and proper judgement to make broader line-level decisions that are anchored to the organization’s core values will help perpetuate a culture of authenticity.