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Leading from Vulnerability and Authenticity

Creating New Values Jim set out to create a set of new values for the team, thinking about how to go from, what he called, “the freight train churning ahead” model to growth through authenticity and vulnerability. Their new values directed employees to: Be bold, Be curious, Be determined, Be human, and Be real—with an emphasis on the latter two. 

Creating Buy In Employees—in Jim’s eyes—are “keepers of the culture”; they not only needed to buy in but also add to it. Seeing a need to create space for this to occur, Jim stood up committees segmented by business aspects including a culture committee. In conjunction with these committees, Phire introduced cultural elements such as scheduling coffee chats or one-on-ones focusing on non-work-related material. Another element created to “keep the culture” was a “kudos” board, a place to house team accomplishments and celebrate new hire milestones. Through these cultural elements Phire was able to create a space for employees to engage and feel heard.

Aligning Brand Philosophy Values and committees are indeed transformative, but the key to authenticity is practicing what you preach. Jim referenced the old branding agency model which promotes manipulation to tell a perfect story.  Recognizing the dissonance between traditional branding goals and Phire’s new culture, Jim changed Phire’s branding philosophy to aligning Phire’s clients to market their authentic selves. Jim cited action as the medium to substantiating authenticity as a part of culture. Here, Jim was able to practice that, demonstrating this was more than buzz words; it was a philosophy. What may have started as sobering reality for Jim quickly evolved into significant, positive cultural changes all by channeling vulnerability and authenticity. Hopefully, Jim’s takeaways can guide your organization to valuing more authenticity and vulnerability. -- About the Center for Positive Organizations This story is a collaboration between Riverbank Consulting Group and the University of Michigan's Center for Positive Organizations (CPO), an academic research center dedicated to building a better world by pioneering the science of thriving organizations. It is based on a webinar presented to members of their Positive Organizations Consortium.


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