Create Your Brand By Being Uniquely You
What are you doing to create your brand – a brand that is memorable and unique?
Do you flat iron those curls because frizzy hair is not en vogue in your workplace? Do you put on warpaint instead of makeup so that your colleagues – and boss – will think you are one tough cookie at work? (We’re talking about the figurative kind here. We imagine literal warpaint would not go over so well in the workplace.) Or maybe you give yourself a pep talk before you clock in, assume your “work identity,” and play pretend for eight hours to create your brand?
The struggle between conformity and authenticity in the workplace drains employees of valuable energy and erodes them of their senses of self. Over the course of a career, shelving your real self at work can come at a great cost that is both physical and psychological. (Think of the employee who needs to use a cane but foregoes it because it might undermine his efforts to keep an image of youth and virility.)
In the end, both employer and employee lose out because of missed opportunities; creativity and learning only happen when everyone is given space to grow according to their natural rhythms.
But employees are forced to cover up, if not sever, parts of themselves because failing to fit in can be an occupational hazard. A mother who is perceived to be dedicated more to her family than her career can be passed over for a promotion in favor of her single counterpart. A gay employee’s career can be derailed if the company culture displays homophobia. Or a teetotaler may not get invited to after-work drinks, missing an opportunity to participate in important conversations and projects that can lead to professional advancement.
Even if there is no outright discrimination for these types of people at work, there are many subtle biases in the workplace that, if they were to be totally thesm could place them at a disadvantage if they were to be their true selves.
Repressed employees are not the only ones losing out in the quest for authenticity.
Companies whose leadership and management don’t promote a culture of diversity and inclusion may lose valuable talent, as their employees are not as likely to be committed to their work.
Think of it: If a similar job in a more welcoming organization were available, would you stay behind and let your true self – and your undiscovered potential – wither away?
Entrepreneurship and innovation often happen in companies with more accepting cultures because employees have the room (and the implicit approval of the management) to push their limits. When there’s no occupational hazard for taking out your authentic self and presenting it before your colleagues, the energy that it would take you to cover up yourself can be channeled to more productive endeavors that will benefit yourself and the organization in which you work.
Icon Credits (thenounproject.com):