Can You Be Authentic in an Inauthentic World?

Organizations need to explore ways to use technology to enhance teaching practices while maintaining the human elements that are essential for effective education.

What is it that inspires us to teach and to lead? When we provide instruction, how much of it is the result of our own creativity, ingenuity, uniqueness, personal experiences, and formal and informal education? Whether you are delivering training via a recorded lecture, in-person, or virtually, are your learners getting the authentic you or a “cut-and-paste” version of whatever technology you are using for your content?

Considering the “new reality” of artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT, Google, and other new resources coming at us, how will Training and Development professionals avoid the easy solution of repeating whatever they capture online? When will training and coaching be based on following a prerecorded script created by a bot? Will we become nothing more than the robotic figures in Disney’s Hall of Presidents repeating the same message every day? How authentic are they? How authentic are we? What will be the role of an instructor when predominantly prepackaged information is being shared?


Education must be based on genuine interactions between teachers and students, which foster learning and shared ideas that promote personal growth. Let’s examine some key factors that promote authentic instruction:

  1. Trust: Authenticity is key to building trust and rapport between teachers and students. If students sense a teacher’s lessons are inauthentic, it will erode the trust that is crucial for effective teaching and learning.
  2. Passion: Authentic teaching involves genuine enthusiasm, passion, and connection with the subject matter. Students are more likely to engage and be motivated to learn when they perceive the teacher’s sincerity, experience, vulnerability, and dedication.
  3. Inclusion: Generative AI at best focuses on information that is based on data that focuses on the “norm.” At worst, it uses algorithms that are biased and discriminatory. If an instructor’s presentation is based on biased information, they are doing a great disservice to the students and themselves. Algorithms that are based on past biased information are more likely to ignore diversity of ideas and experiences.
  4. Mutual Learning: Learning is a mutually creative endeavor. Before entering a class, I remind myself that I will learn as much as the students if I ask the right questions and pay attention to the students’ needs. I always assume there is at least one exceptional learner in the class who can help me on my learning journey. My job is to find that learner.
  5. Role Model: Teachers play a significant role in shaping students’ values, ethics, and behaviors. Authenticity in teaching allows teachers to serve as positive role models, demonstrating honesty and integrity in their interactions.
  6. Empathy: Teachers who genuinely care about their students’ growth and development create an environment where students feel valued and supported. We should try to see the world from our students’ perspective. Online pre-recorded instruction can never create the mutual learning that takes place when students interact with their instructors.
  7. Genuine Interpersonal Interactions: By encouraging students to think critically and express their thoughts freely, we create a learning “safe space.” Much can be learned from the give and take of meaningful discussions, examination of alternative perspectives, and the experience of “aha moments.” Students may learn by rote memory, but that will not suffice to explain “why” and “what to do” in situations not covered by a canned presentation. Education is about building personal connections that can provide mentorship, guidance, and emotional support that technology cannot replicate.
  8. Impact: Authentic teaching has a lasting impact on students’ lives. Students remember teachers who have had a genuine influence on their learning journey, and this influence can extend beyond the classroom setting.


Talent development and training organizations should explore ways to use technology to enhance teaching practices while maintaining the human elements that are essential for effective education. Instead, it seems organizations are hyping Generative AI as the key to improving productivity and effectiveness. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 5 percent of employees will engage in “Shadow AI”—the unauthorized use of AI. What will organizations and instructors do to prevent or avoid this?

Think about how you learned the most important lessons that impacted your personal and professional growth. Did it come from a robot or from a wise and experienced teacher, parent, or other person who cared about you and your success? We must aspire to inspire. Our goal should be to be an instructor who leaves an indelible mark on our students and their future. Being authentic will be more difficult with each new Generative AI tool. We must do better than a bot.

Please share any questions, concerns, or challenges you and/or your organization are facing regarding Generative AI and instruction and learning with me at:

Neal Goodman, Ph.D.
Dr. Neal Goodman is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, and coach on DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion), global leadership, global mindset, and cultural intelligence. Organizations based on four continents seek his guidance to build and sustain their global and multicultural success. He is CEO of the Neal Goodman Group and can be reached at: Dr. Goodman is the founder and former CEO of Global Dynamics Inc.