In Redefining Professionalism: Finding Your Authentic Self, Katrina Weizer explores the intersection of authenticity and professionalism in the workplace, and how professionals can combine their personal truth with their professional practice.
Authenticity is truly as enormous and complex as Katrina Weizer articulately writes in her article “Redefining Professionalism: Finding Your Authentic Self”, as published in The Student Affairs Feature.
What I appreciated most about Katrina’s article was her portrayal of authenticity as not a license to do or say anything but rather as an expression of our common professional philosophy. As Katrina writes “I associate authenticity with personal truth, but the focus remains student-centered”. Her writing centres on the importance of authenticity professionally as well as personally, speaking more to incorporating rather than separating aspects of ourselves into our work. Authenticity is no longer a threat but an opportunity – an opportunity to add our unique voice to a departmental and institutional story. In a field that so greatly values diversity, authenticity is seen as a key way to ensure that these perspectives, ideas, and opinions are both heard and valued.
More importantly, Katrina’s thoughts on authenticity help to understand the concept as a professional asset rather than a precarious liability. The article does not conflate authenticity with unchecked openness, but rather looks to help others find ways to “appropriately infuse your authenticity” into professional life. The use of the word ‘appropriately’ is vital here, acknowledging and underscoring the importance of sharing our best and true self in a way that adds to, rather than detracts from, the larger goal of our department or institution. Authenticity is not an all access pass but rather a ticket behind the curtain. In being trusted with the inner workings of a department, we are granted a view of more than just budget spreadsheets and policy manuals. We are gifted with insight into the people that will teach, lead, and guide our students (and ourselves). Such a precious gift, then, must be nurtured with gentle regard.
Personal boundaries and professional conduct are no barriers or limits. They serve to protect the gift of authentic, vulnerable connections that make us “honest contributors” in student affairs. Katrina’s article is a vital reminder that authenticity is not an automatic openness, but a hard earned and well planned work in progress.