On the face of it being fully ourselves at work is a good thing. A client in HR surprised me recently, “Simon, I don’t want our leaders being fully themselves. They will show their worst traits!”.

He has a point. We suppress so much at work that we think after we have had a few drinks our true (ugly) self is let loose. It is as if our professional persona can hide the truth about who we are. Let’s face it that can be a very good thing. Sometimes, say in customer service we just want the function (and maybe a fake smile).

Should you be yourself at work?

The very best organisations know that everyone benefits if their people can be their best selves much more of the time. We don’t have to leave our personalities behind when we walk through the office door and retrieve it in the evening.

Being our best selves within teams is an outcome of a number of human and social factors all of which seem to be universal and hard wired. We deeply want and yearn to be our best selves.

Can I contribute fully?
Can I share my feelings?
Do I  feel recognised and valued?
Can I learn and grow?
Do I enjoy myself?

Authenticity at work

When these factors are discussed openly in team time, extraordinary things can happen to levels of engagement, staff retention, effectiveness and more.

The key seems to be the time and skill teams devote to discussing these things openly together, and not just with their line manager or HR lead.

Questions to ask to find out if you are fully yourself at work

Let’s look a little more closely at each factor.

Can I contribute Fully?

Can everyone fulfil their potential in this team?
The group needs to have a conversation about what needs to change, in terms of team behaviours and process, to enable everyone to contribute more fully. 

Can I share my feelings?

Strong teams know that the expression of emotions, safely and skilfully reaps huge rewards.
The group needs to talk about the importance of expressing feelings. What holds me/us back? Which feelings are acceptable and which more challenging?

Do I  feel recognised and valued?

Is everyone appreciated for who they are and the contribution they make?
The team needs to talk about the importance of appreciation and positive feedback.
Maybe invite a round of one thing you appreciate in each person, or better feedback loops.

Do I learn and grow?

Do people have opportunities to develop new skills and further their career? Are people in the ‘learning zone’?
The team need to talk about how as a team they can improve their learning individually and collectively. Get to know each person’s learning goals

Do I enjoy myself?

This is self evident but not often discussed.
Talk about what we could do to improve the vibe of the team.

Being Fully Myself is one of the four pillars of We-Q, the collaborative intelligence App which enables teams to instantly self measure team engagement, effectiveness and alignment.

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