Should leaders bring their whole self to work?

Much of life is ring-fenced by conformity, the need to fit in with everyone else’s thought-stream, to toe the party line, to nod in affirmation of the populist vote, but is this helping businesses, and can creativity and innovation ever be sparked if leaders stifle their true beliefs?
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Should leaders bring their whole self to work?
It is a rarity to be truly authentic as a leader but courage brings great benefits

Much of life is ring-fenced by conformity, the need to fit in with everyone else’s thought-stream, to toe the party line, to nod in affirmation of the populist vote, but is this helping businesses, and can creativity and innovation ever be sparked if leaders stifle their true beliefs?

TV presenter Ben Fogle is well placed for speaking about authenticity. He has met and delves into the lives of many non-conformists, those that have been brave and turned their backs upon the mainstream, that have embraced their individualism and breathed strongly into their desire to be true to it. They may not be leading the boardrooms of the world but there is something that can be learned from them.

Fogle says, “They are all people with a strong drive. A rawness and a confidence of individuality. So much of our modern society is about conforming. There’s a homogeny to our over processed lives. I am so exhausted by the superficial.”

That tiredness is felt by many employees who experience bosses that are not real, that can be manipulated by what the corporate jungle wants them to be, rather than what they believe themselves to be right. The presenter adds that society is becoming ever more over produced and plasticised, and he is not referring to Barbie here. There is some truth in what Fogle is saying, the entrepreneur that stands out from the crowd, often has to leave the corporate world to follow their passion, their spirit potentially having been stifled by their employer, but is it as clear cut as this and for those working inside the branded power-houses is there benefit from revealing their whole selves?

There’s no silver bullet

Steve Hearsum, experienced consultant of change practitioners and the author of No Silver Bullet: Bursting the bubble of the organisational quick fix says it’s not as clear cut as being ‘out and proud’ on your true self.

“A lot has been written about authenticity. For example, we have organisations that exhort their employees to ‘bring their whole selves to work’, which seems like a risky thing to ask. Do you really want my authentic self that is grumpy after a sleepless night due to a poorly toddler? Or the versions that shows up with a hangover? Or maybe you want me to bring my deeply held personal values and share those, for good or ill?”

They are all people with a strong drive. A rawness and a confidence of individuality. So much of our modern society is about conforming. There’s a homogeny to our over processed lives. I am so exhausted by the superficial

Ben Fogle | TV Presenter

It's a good point and one which explores the line of what is too much? He adds, “If we were all authentic and honest about, say, Brexit, politics, ethical and moral issues such as abortion, and other subjects which are complex and messy, I am not sure our employers would be too happy if it got that ‘real’.”

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