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Hi, I’m the problem, it’s me!

What if your lack of authenticity is derailing everything? 

One of the current viral trends on social media is for people to post a video to the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero, “It’s me, Hi, I’m the problem, it’s me!” I’m not one to advocate for many of these viral trends, but I think more CEOs and Team Leaders would benefit from this one! 

In today’s business world, one trait our leaders can’t afford to lose is authenticity. As the very fabric that weaves resilient and trusting teams, authenticity in leadership is not just a desirable trait but an essential one.

This topic came up in one of our latest Instill Culture Labs podcasts between Dan Kasper and Marissa Andrade. "One thing we often overlook is the need for authenticity. You can't expect your team to be genuine if you're not setting the standard yourself," noted Dan during the conversation. It’s a simple yet profound observation: the heart of leadership lies in being true to oneself and in turn, inspiring others to find and honor their truth. 

If you’re a leader trying to sort out why your workplace culture feels a bit off, maybe the first place to turn is inward. Here are a few simple ideas to get started: 

The Pillars of Authentic Leadership

1. Self-awareness: 

At the forefront is self-awareness. It’s about deeply understanding oneself and others, recognizing strengths and vulnerabilities, and navigating them to resonate genuinely with others. This not only boosts a leader’s confidence but makes it easier for teams to trust and relate to them.

To this end, many top leaders have adopted a daily practice of journaling. Take time at the end of every work day to write down the moments and interactions that continue to take up space in your thoughts. 

  • What were the team’s biggest wins? 
  • When did you feel the most energy and synergy at work?
  •  What were the most deflating or frustrating moments, and why? 


Journaling about questions like these on a regular basis is a great way to grow your own self-awareness. Soon, you’ll start to reflect on moments throughout your day as they are happening, providing you with your own real-time feedback loop. 

2. Continuous Learning: 

"Culture isn't static. As we evolve, so does our culture." 

  • Marissa Andrada

Authentic leadership demands ongoing growth and adaptation. The landscape of leadership constantly shifts, and clinging to outdated notions or styles can stifle authenticity. Great leaders know that what worked for them ten years ago, or even last year, isn’t necessarily what’s going to get their company over the finish line this time. Here are a few questions you might consider: 

  • Do I have older mentors who have my best interests at heart? 
  • Have I sought the wisdom of younger leaders and created space for them? 
  • When was the last time I was inspired by something I read? 
  • Does my team feel safe and secure enough to get me the feedback I need? 

Out-of-the-box Authenticity

Some of those tried and true methods above are certainly valuable for growing our authenticity and building trust with our teams. But how about a few less-trodden paths? Delving into more innovative realms, there are some unique avenues for leaders to hone their authenticity:

Improv Classes: 

Ok, it didn’t quite work for Michael Scott from The Office! But putting yourself in a situation that requires quick, off-the-cuff responses has a lot of overlap with how we interact with our teams at work. The spontaneous, in-the-moment decision-making nature of improv mirrors the unpredictable challenges leaders face daily. By embracing the unexpected and learning to communicate with authenticity even when caught off-guard, leaders can genuinely bolster their genuine responses in real-life scenarios. 

Digital Detox Retreats: 

This one is, sadly, harder and harder for us to do in our hyperconnected era. The continuous influx of information can cloud our genuine selves, and when we are always “on” it can be next to impossible to hear our inner selves crying out for some peace and change. By consciously disconnecting, even momentarily, leaders get an opportunity to introspect, recenter, and emerge more attuned to their authentic selves.

One of my more memorable supervisors would take a half-day every week to be unplugged. He never forced that on the rest of us, but his example gave us the freedom as employees to do the same, and the entire culture benefited. He came back with more energy and vision, and the whole team’s innovation soared. 

AI: The Unexpected Guide to Authentic Leadership

In the ever-evolving journey of leadership, artificial intelligence stands as an unlikely but potent ally. At Instill, we believe that while AI can analyze vast datasets and predict trends, its real magic lies in its capacity to help leaders understand themselves and their people better. By providing insights into communication patterns, decision-making tendencies, and areas of improvement, AI serves as a mirror, reflecting back on a leader's authentic self.

As the realms of leadership diversify and expand, the essence remains rooted in authenticity. Through self-awareness, continuous learning, and even the occasional improv class or digital detox, leaders can not only navigate the labyrinth of modern leadership but do so with genuine grace. And hey, maybe you need to turn Taylor’s Anti-Hero on in the background and confess some things to your social media followers—we’ll leave that last one up to you!


Join us at Instill as we embark on this journey together, leveraging the power of AI to carve out authentic leaders for tomorrow!

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