How can you create authentic teams?

How can you create authentic teams?

By Arifa Syed, Senior Consultant

How can you create authentic teams?

In this era of rapid change and digital interconnectedness, the significance of authenticity in team dynamics cannot be overstated. Authenticity goes beyond just ‘being real’. It is about the ability to align one’s actions with their core beliefs and values. If enabled to cultivate, it is the catalyst that fosters trust, promotes open dialogue, and galvanises team alignment around shared goals. But despite this agreement, a central question arises: How can organisations actively cultivate such authenticity, particularly in an era rife with change and uncertainty? Let us delve into contemporary insights on authenticity, its benefits, and its cultivation within organisations.

The rising value of authenticity

Recent evidence showcases that being ‘authentic’ goes deeper than naturally ‘being real’. Dr. Brene Brown, who is a leading social researcher, explains that authenticity is a practice that is shaped through the collection of choices that we make everyday. It is about the choice to consciously show up and be real, the choice to be brave and honest, and the choice to be vulnerable to let our true selves be seen.

Similarly, in the realm of business, authenticity affects more than just interpersonal relationships. In fact, the ability and capacity to be authentic profoundly impact and reverberates through organisational culture, processes, and outcomes. Authentic leaders, for example, are seen as more trustworthy and effective and thus seen as leading higher levels of employee engagement and commitment. A study from Harvard Business Review indicates that leaders who demonstrated and practised authentic behaviours correlated with teams with lower turnover and higher job satisfaction.


Benefits of authentic teams

Having understood the significance of authenticity, let us appreciate the benefits of authentic teams and their tangible impacts that organisations can reap as they cultivate authenticity as a part of their cultural landscape:

  • Increased trust: Authenticity can solidify foundations of trust. When team members are genuine, it is easier to trust their intentions, believe in their actions, and collaborate as psychological safety is enriched.

  • Open communication: Authentic teams encourage open dialogue, ensuring all voices are heard and valued. This is the foundation for innovation and problem-solving.

  • Higher engagement: Authenticity fuels passion and commitment. Teams that believe in their purpose and trust each other are more satisfied and engaged at work, leading to lowered frustration and insecurity. As Gallup highlights, higher engagement directly and extensively influences organisational performance.


Creating authentic teams: What can be done?

With the extensive experiences with various clients, we at IDC have developed the following actions in practically fostering authenticity within teams.

  • Encourage vulnerability: We believe that authenticity begins with valuing and viewing vulnerability as a strength. Encourage team members to share their feelings, concerns, and even failures without judgement as this builds the foundation of trust and understanding. However, it is importance to recognise that encouraging vulnerability without creating the space for it can backfire and erode trust further. Leaders must lead by example to showcase how this can be achieved within organisations.

  • Set clear values and stick to them: Define what values are essential for your organisation and team. Whether it’s integrity, respect, responsibility, or collaboration, ensure these values are clearly communicated and consistently upheld.

  • Promote ongoing feedback conversations: Constructive feedback is a hallmark of authentic teams. Use regular and informal check-ins to encourage open communication and foster a culture within your team with feedback from everyone. Ensure that a spirit of continuous improvement is embraced.

  • Prioritise personal development: Authenticity thrives in an environment of growth. Providing opportunities for team members to grow both professionally and personally. This demonstrates your commitment to genuinely investing in their wellbeing. This can include providing space for your team members to reflect, discuss, share challenges and find breakthroughs.

  • Celebrate individuality: While alignment on team goals is central, it is also imperative to approach unique experiences, perspectives, and skills that each team member brings to the table. Celebrating diversity and encouraging individual expression should become a natural phenomenon for authentic teams.


Overcoming the challenges

However, it should be acknowledged that this does not come without its challenges. It requires an ongoing effort, introspection, and sometimes having difficult conversations. We must recognise the common pitfalls such as groupthink and the tendency to avoid discomfort or dissenting opinions in the interest of keeping peace and harmony. These challenges should be normalised as a part of the process and addressed through emphasising and practising open communication and valuing unique perspectives rather than suppressing them. This requires active and conscious practice from all team members, regardless of status.

Creating authentic teams should be understood as an investment in the human element of business that pays dividends in trust, communication, and engagement. By embracing the evidence-based strategies highlighted by contemporary research, leaders are given the unique opportunity to foster an environment where authenticity thrives, and teams are empowered to perform at their best.



Brown, Brene. (2018). Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House.

Deloitte (2021). Global Human Capital Trends.

McKinsey & Company. (2020). Diversity wins: How inclusion matters.

Harvard Business Review. (2005) Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership


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