In my last blog post, ‘It’s called Human Resources, Not Robot Resources’, I stated that I make no distinction between a personal identity and a professional one. In response someone asked me, ‘Surely you need to exhibit different behaviours in the workplace than would be appropriate in a personal setting?’ Well, I thought the answer deserved a post of its own.
I don’t disagree with the sentiment. And while I think it’s true to some extent (after all, we’re likely to shift modes a little from the office meeting room to the family BBQ), I’ve found it far healthier to align my attitude, behaviour and values in all environments. Here’s why…
I suffer constantly from imposter syndrome. It all started 20 years ago, back when I was an emotionally immature, hopelessly-equipped leader of teams and companies. In fact, I’m so aware of my limitations and the gaps in my knowledge, that it would be exhausting to try and cover them up. I find it much easier to be transparent. In the event of an emergency, I simply break the glass and rely up upon the Ben Folds’ lyrics, ‘I do the best imitation of myself’.
Because I’ve found life so much easier to navigate when there is only one version of how I approach my problems – business or personal.
I want the people I work with to discover for themselves that if I’m kind and nurturing to friends in other parts of my life, then I’m likely to give them the same due. Similarly, I find it just as healthy to admit my failures and shortcomings to a colleague, as I do confiding in one of my siblings. Reducing the delta between my professional and personal lives over the years has helped rid me of much of the confusion I had earlier in my career. I’m no longer concerned about someone in a business context becoming cognisant of one of my weaknesses; because I’ve probably already disclosed it openly.
Vulnerability is key
I believe that inherent vulnerability (a pre-requisite of being comfortable enough to resist the creation of a work ‘mask’ away from the ‘true self’) is a massive benefit in business. Aside from being able to openly discuss with work friends where you see their opportunities to improve, it also helps strip away the hubris from interactions with clients and suppliers. Basically, it enables all relationships to have far more solid foundations.