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Learning to be Genuine

We generally have a disconnect between the person, business, or agency that we want to be and the reality of who or what we are today. This disconnect is a great thing, an opportunity for growth an opportunity for improvement. However, when not understood, it is also a major pain point, something that leads your customers, your citizens, to lack faith in your words and actions.

As you begin to make use of collaborative solutions, like social media, it is critical that you recognize the importance of being genuine. This is hard, especially for businesses and agencies that enable multiple people to take part in conversations on your behalf. So, as you review the strategies and tactics you have in place, take some time to clearly define:

•Who are we today? For businesses, how do we fit in the marketplace? For people, what are your real strengths and weaknesses?
•How do we want to be perceived? Nearly every person, every company, every politician, every agency, wants to be perceived as an expert, a guru, a thought leader. The reality is that most are none of those things.

How you bridge the perception gap, both in person and across collaborative channels like Twitter, Facebook, your web site, will tell people who you are. Be genuine, bridge those gaps by making efforts to become who or what you represent. If you fake it people will know. Listen, learn, and engage. Take the time to be genuine.


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Heather Coleman

Great post! I’ve been thinking about this very subject a lot lately. I wrote a blog post titled “How Memorable Are You” . I talk about how the truth is easier to remember. I also say “Figure out what you can and can’t do and be honest about it. Don’t oversell. Don’t cover up. The customer is smarter than that. And has a longer memory.” Even as a marketer, I’m getting tired of the overselling in corporate america and even in the gov’t. Don’t overpromise. Set realistic expectations and perform! People will thank you for it. And stop with the missions that say you are going to be the BEST blah, blah, blah. How about just trying to be pretty good? I’ll take pretty good any day of the week.

John Moore

I like that. As a CTO I always remind the team, and the exectives that I work with, that we need to shoot for the stars yet do so incrementally. Build strong relationships, earn trust, deliver. People will respect you and your organization far more. -John

Keith Moore

Being Genuine is a powerful asset in today’s business arena.

We call it being “authentic.” .

My first blog in joining Gov Loop. “Can Open Government help bring FAITH Back into Government”?

We genuinely believe that our job at Open Government TV is to help others become believers in transparency, collaboration, and participation.

Mary Groebner

But, how do you ‘learn’ to be genuine? Isn’t this something you are or you aren’t?

I don’t want to sound skeptical that people can change, but if they’ve spent a whole career not understanding why being ‘real’ with people isn’t important…I mean, how can you convince them it is and have it result in REAL authenticity as opposed to sorta fake authenticity as a new sort of buzzword?

I fear there may be a groundswell of support for some kind of certification in ‘genuine-ness’ that one could list after their name on their business card or on their resume.

As noted in the comments below, ‘genuine’ is really about personal integrity. Backing up your words with your actions, making sure you CAN back you words with action before you utter those words in the first place, respecting those you are promising things to – and really believing that meeting those promises is important.

Restoring trust and faith in government has to start and end with trust and faith in those who work within government. They can’t just be mercenaries, out for a job. They have to be people who genuinely believe in what they are doing, and why – and solidly in touch with their inner taxpayer so that they can tap into that and ‘treat others as their own inner taxpayer would like to be treated’.

John Moore

Learning to be genuine to me, organizationally, at a business or federal agency level, is far easier than it is at a personal level. Corporate goals define your mission, your purpose, and you either have people in place that represent those goals or you do not. Have people that represent those goals lead and spread your message. The others need to find new missions they can get behind.

People, however, can also change, but not generally to the extent that you see in the movies. Many people spend their entire lives floating through their days. If they can define and embrace personal goals they can change as they pursue these goals.

No, I am not a life change coach. 🙂 I am, however, someone who believes people can become more genuine, more focused, through personal and corporate leadership. Doesn’t happen often enough, but it can happen.

Mary Groebner

@John – so I think we’re saying the same thing.

I read this good book last week that somebody I interviewed with had mentioned (book = Patrick Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions of a team). As I read it, it was making that link between the individuals (who must at base have personal integrity as well as pride in their work and a desire for personal accomplishment/achievement) and the organizations they work within (an organization is, afterall, one big team often structured/broken into many smaller ones with sub-goals). The individuals have to often put aside their individual goals and believe in the larger ‘team’ goal – because accomplishing things together ultimately helps us achieve our own individual goals as well. (this is a very very bad paraphrase of a good book :)) It does depend on the leadership though, to draw those goals, to stress the importance of everybody being on the same page, and to build a culture where trust is genuine and individuals hold each other accountable (i.e. be genuine with and vulnerable to each other). Pretty easy to see in sports, actually, where yeah, individual accomplishments are one thing but the team accomplishments are what get you World Series or Super Bowl rings. And those rings come rarely to teams with lousy ‘clubhouse’ atmospheres (i.e. lack of leadership and cohesive mission)

And you’re right, it doesn’t happen enough where you get that magical combination of an organization or even a small team within it – led by someone who understands this and can inspire it in those they lead, where those they lead are willing to set aside their own goals (and egos) and buy-in to the larger one. And by participating on such a team, they do learn that work can be fun and rewarding and productive – both at the team/organization AND at the individual level. And then – why would they ever want to go back to the other way. 🙂