“Be yourself - everyone else is taken” - Oscar Wilde
Actually, the straight answer to this question is that you can’t be yourself at work unless your organisation creates at least the following 5 conditions:
Organisational folks prefer the term professional development to personal development. However, this is flawed thinking and labelling. People can undergo professional development programmes that often produce better technical skills but many of the problems in organisations come from Interpersonal factors that require personal development skills.
When personality and work preference factors clash no amount of professional ability will resolve these. People need to be on a continuous path of self improvement. To be on that path, you need to have the self-awareness to know where you are and to where you can go in terms of your potential.
You also need to have quality feedback so you...
“In most organisations nearly everyone is doing a second job no one is paying them for - namely, covering their weaknesses, trying to look their best, and managing other people’s impressions of them.” - An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organisation (Kegan & Lahey, 2016)
A profound statement!
Because, many people simply don’t feel safe enough to be themselves at work. There is a latent vulnerability that is at stake. It’s not ok to “fail”. We must get top marks, etc… This topic comes up time and time again at public events, in TED talks and other online forums. For decades, authors have suggested you just look at what people can achieve outside of work through their hobbies, community service, etc… for evidence that organisations only get a part of an employee when at work.
And, personally I think that there may be nothing wrong with this. Most of us would prefer to...
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