How to be “Yourself” at Work / From Reacting to Creating

A remarkable confluence of things I have run across recently highlight a central issue we all face: how to be “yourself” at work when the organizational culture does not support this.

I write this partly because I want to and partly because I think it will resonate with many of our subscribers to this newsletter.

Here is what I encountered:

  • One of my coaching clients had an “aha” moment–he realized that when his boss was away on vacation he was-finally-able to be himself, act like he really wants to act, speak his opinions, and experience a huge reduction in stress.
  • A human resources executive told me that she had been “on both sides,” as an external independent trainer and now an internal HR professional. She said the work is much harder internally, because of all the personalities to appease, forces to deal with, and minds to influence in order to successfully do the work she wants to do.
  • In the teleseminar series, Waking Up the Workplace, Tami Simon, founder and CEO of Sounds True, told about how she left her large employer to start the kind of company where she could be true to her values and not have to “play that game” anymore.
  • A key manager in a successful small firm that was acquired by a global one told me how the control and approval processes have become much more complex and the drive for results has been ratcheted up to the point where it is hard to feel her former enthusiasm for the work.

All this got me thinking and has led to three realizations:

  1. Forces within a larger organization (e.g. the imperative to continually grow results, the particular leadership culture fostered by the top team, the personality and ability of your immediate boss) have an awesomely powerfully influence on how authentic and fulfilled employees can be working there.
  2. Having our own business has enabled me, even through the tough recession times, to do the fulfilling work I want to do while showing up authentically with our clients and associates.
  3. In fact, much of the work Fulcrum does is around helping managers live, work, and lead authentically to bring out the best in themselves and their staff…even in a workplace culture that may not be terribly supportive of this.

Changing On The Job by Jennifer Garvey Berger What I’m Reading

Changing on the Job by Jennifer Garvey BergerI’m just starting to read this. It is a dive into the subject of adult development and its direct link to leadership effectiveness. I regard this as one of THE two cutting edges (along with neuroscience) of leadership development. The book first explains the various levels of adult development and then speaks particularly to those of us whose roles support the growth of people in organizations–BTW, this includes you, managers. Changing on the Job comes recommended by both Bill Torbert and Robert Kegan, two giants in the field.