One of my ex honchos urged me to be myself. I didn’t know what that meant because I didn’t know what myself was. Do I know now, five years later? Errr … sort of. I know more about what I’m not. I know more about what I am good at and what I like. I know that I don’t like leading a double life – acting one way with colleagues and another with friends. Having a public blog means I am putting myself out there (here). Work people ─ colleagues and bosses, clients and prospects, read this. Boyfriends ─ exes and prospects, read this. Family, friends and strangers read this. Sometimes I freak over being so exposed. But the benefits tend to outweigh the risks. Still, I have to be careful about venting so as not to make people unnecessarily nervous. I made a promise to myself not to use the blog to passive aggressively send messages to the people in my life. Colsblog is here for me to express myself, to have some fun, and learn from others.
From today’s FT.com: Be yourself – but know who you are meant to be By Stefan Stern
New research by the business psychology company OPP confirms the existence of so-called “workplace chameleons”, those who feel the need to adopt a different persona as they arrive at work each day.
But such “multiple personality” leaders do undoubtedly exist, according to Julia Middleton, who runs the leadership development organisation Common Purpose. She says the pressure to provide simple solutions seems to push leaders into creating artificial public personas: omniscient and infallible.
And if you then make the mistake of believing your own PR things can really get out of hand. “Don’t read the articles about you, and even worse, don’t read the press releases,” Ms Middleton advises. “Leaders’ public faces can be so carefully honed that they lose sight of whether this is their real face, or the other one who makes real decisions in a real world,” she adds.
To maintain a grip on reality, she urges leaders to seek out “turbulent networks of people who tell you the truth”.
Perhaps it is too simplistic to imagine an idealised world where one straightforward version of ourselves fits every situation, public and private. In their 2006 book Why Should Anyone Be Led By You? Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones suggest leaders need to become “authentic chameleons” – as opposed to phoney ones, I suppose – who use social skills to have the best possible impact in different contexts.