9 Aug, 2019Can 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.
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.