9 Aug, 2019

Can you be yourself?

How things have changed in the last twenty years is pretty amazing in organisations. I really enjoyed talking to Delphine Rive, MD of Accenture  about how diversity is now a big part of how great organisations operate.

The 20th Century workplace was all about conformity and fitting in. You were expected to dress the right way, say the right things and act as others expected you to act.

As a result, people were suppressing their own personalities in order to progress in their chose career.

Now organisations are much more willing to accept people for who they are and have come to recognise the strength in a diverse range of individuals.

Hurrah!

It’s not that easy, of course, because most of us were raised in that fixed mindset of ‘be who others need you to be.’ Being your authentic self is a real challenge and is beset by fear:

“What if people don’t like who I am?”

“My authentic self wants to admit that I haven’t got a clue what the answer is. If I do that, people won’t respect me.”

“If I have to ask, I’ll look stupid.”

It is just as challenging when the shoe is on the other foot too. We are quick to judge someone who comes to work and doesn’t conform to the standards we grew up with.

We might recoil at someone who wears a lot of make up or has purple hair or wears shorts skirts. We find ourselves poking fun at people who dress formally when everyone else is in jeans, or who likes an immaculately tidy desk. The person for whom it matters what colour sticky notes they use for different types of messages will get funny looks.

It is so automatic that we many not even realise we are doing it.

So what is the answer? How can you lead those around you to be authentic and to celebrate the diversity in work, in relationships and in life in general.

It all comes down to something I have been saying for some time now.

Lead as you want to be led!

Notice for yourself when you are quick to judge. Notice when you are backing way because you are worried about what others might think.

Then, once you have seen it, start to take action in a different direction – in small and gradual ways that embrace the rich differences between us and build on these differences to create success in the world.

To learn more about how to lead as you want to be led, take a look at my new book Inspirators: Leading the way in Leadership which includes the full interview with Delphine Rive, MD of Accenture.

2 Comments

  1. Diana M Wild

    I believe Delphine is correct in what she says about how we all used to have to conform in companies! – so much better to be ourselves and bring our own very special talents to help the company to thrive. When the whole company works in synergy how much better it is.

    I think companies are indeed evolving to embrace the diversity, with many leaders are leading as they would want to be led, either because of their innate natural personality or by learning awareness of how their actions either spur others on or deflate them, and this makes them stronger and more successful leaders.

    Leaders can always improve and show inspiration to others.

    Reply
  2. Eva

    I was alway discouraged to be myself, at home, in school, at work… my family use to say I was weird, when I was just being myself. I am away from that toxic environment, but as they still my family, they still try to give me their opinions about me, however I asked for it or not 🙄and in most work places I have been so far, you still have to conform,,as if you stick out they would make your life difficult 😳

    Reply

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