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How I Overcame Fear and Started Leading with Authenticity

Jessica Atkinson of Omni Logistics shares her inspiring story of overcoming fear and embracing her authentic self both personally and professionally.



Why Does Authenticity Matter in Leadership?

As a project manager, Jessica Atkinson (Vice President Transformation - Business Process Optimization at Omni Logistics) wanted to be seen as a leader. She wanted people to respect her so she could efficiently complete projects. As a result, she was all business all the time. There was just one problem—her team found her difficult to work with and untrustworthy.

In attempting to remain professional at all times, Jessica wasn’t being authentic. She never allowed her personality to shine or shared any details of her life outside of work. She was so focused on the tasks and projects at hand that she neglected to share any element of herself with her co-workers. 

Her colleagues didn’t feel connected to or comfortable around her. Without that comfort, they weren't willing to share challenges, accomplishments, or ideas.


How to Lead Authentically

Leading authentically starts with vulnerability. Sharing openly with colleagues and bringing elements of yourself into the workplace helps show others that you’re human. Your team will relate to you more and feel more invested in your success if they know and understand you. 

When Jessica started to do this, she noticed a massive difference. People were finally starting to look at her as the leader she hoped to be. She was no longer two different people at work and at home. This didn’t just make a difference to her colleagues. Jessica started to like herself at work more too.


Leadership Isn’t a Title 

When Jessica looks back, she realizes the reason she felt that she had to be strictly professional was because her job title didn’t define her as a “leader”. Luckily she learned that job titles have nothing to do with leading. Anyone can be a leader if they’re authentic, trustworthy, and hard-working. She shared, “Assigned titles are not a limitation to lead. Funny enough, titles only mandate responsibilities. They’re not intrinsically connected to leading. In thinking of someone you admire, is it really because of their title?”


Hear Jessica’s full story in the video above.