*Originally posted on LinkedIn.
Last week, Fast Company published a helpful guide that’s useful for… pretty much everyone. Whether an early career climber or a mid-level manager, it pays to be cognizant of the line between respectful interaction and flat-out deference. The author of the piece, Anett Grant, identifies four distinct ways in which you can practice showing respect without being a pushover. You should read them all, but what struck me was how closely they all tie into one central theme: be yourself.
Now, that’s no recommendation for treating your next interview or client meeting like a party. But when interfacing with other humans, people want to make sure they’re not doing business with a drone. Early career advice holds that you should “be memorable”, and that leads droves of potential hires trying way too hard to impress whoever is sitting across the desk. In a way, that’s terrible advice— by nature of a little thing called DNA, every single person is already unique. Whether or not you’re outspoken or a bit shy shouldn’t really matter at the end of the day; you’ve automatically differentiated yourself by virtue of existing.
But it’s not just younger people that can benefit from being themselves. As a manager, your individual qualities and preferences make you more personable to the team you manage. By revealing those, as opposed to hiding in the fortress of authority, you have presented yourself as more human, making your leadership capabilities shine. Think about it, would you rather regularly interface a tersely-lipped enigma or with someone you feel has a grasp on who they are and what they do?
Be sure of yourself, too. Don’t overstate your achievements with fluff, but don’t downplay them either. If your initiatives spurred growth or reduced loss, don’t be afraid to share that and make it known. When pitching investors, how can you expect them to have confidence in your product or service if you can’t demonstrate it yourself?
It’s a fun challenge and something that should be a work in progress for all of us. Let’s try to leave the masks at home and really shine. Everyone is different, and encouraging that simple fact can lead to a more dynamic and engaging workplace.