We often try to change who we are in order to fit in at work. I see this happen very often, particularly some women who feel they have to be more aggressive when they get in to leadership roles.
They feel they will not be taken seriously unless they are power dressing and flexing their testosterone when deep down they want to be their feminine selves.
Being your feminine self can be difficult, particularly if you work in a male dominated industry. As the only woman ‘on the block’, a client of mine felt she was not being taken seriously when she came up with ideas and suggestions for areas of development for the organisation.
I recently launched a network for women called The Ladies Business Brainstorming Club which is a platform for women to network whilst finding solutions to issues in their professional lives as well as generating ideas for their businesses or careers. I was challenged about this group by a man in an online forum. He told me that the group was sexist and that in this 21st century was not needed. He also asked what do women need from brainstorming and networking that is different to men.
My response was to highlight that despite being in the 21st century, it is still very much reported that women are still treated less favourably at times. I also pointed out the provisions for positive action under the Equalities Act 2010 and that the purpose of the group is to enable women to strive for success in their professional lives. The brainstorming and networking is just a vehicle to enable them to achieve this.
Last week I had an email from a woman who has only been at her organisation for a few months. The description of her role is very enticing but the nature of the culture of the organisation is starting to take its toll on her.
I commended her for recognising the impact that this is having on her and for doing something about it at such an early stage, whilst she has the confidence and strength to do so.
Unfortunately, there are many women who don’t do anything and stay in that environment for years. They become stuck in a rut, their confidence is knocked and they get to the stage where they feel that they cannot do anything else. Often it is at this stage when they come to me for coaching.
Working in an environment where you are continuously not being true to yourself will eventually take its toll.
So how can you be yourself when ‘yourself’ does not fit in with the environment of the organisation that you work for?
An increased self-awareness will enable you to be aware of who you are and how you fit in with the culture of the organisation and how it impacts on you. For example, if you are a person of integrity, working for an organisation that is ruthless or if you are person that likes autonomy but work in an oppressive environment.
An increased self-awareness will also enable you to be aware of how what you do impacts on others. It may be necessary to adapt your style according to the individual or situation that you are dealing with, however, do it in a way that is authentic to you.
If the ‘politics’ of the organisation just don’t allow you to be yourself, seriously think about finding an organisation that does.
If you have become stuck in a rut, doing a job that does not allow you to be your authentic self, the Reignite career change workshop on 14.9.13 will help you to challenge any fears about making a career change; decide what it is that you want to do and you will create your own career change action plan. For further details visit http://reigniteyourcareer.eventbrite.co.uk.
What is your experience of working in an environment that did not allow you to be your true self? Please share your comments
Carol Stewart is a Personal Development, Career & Business Coach and founder of Abounding Solutions. She works with women in their forties who are unhappy at work but are too scared to do anything about it. She helps them to develop the confidence to make a career move and find something that they love. This could be a complete career change or it could even be exiting the corporate environment and setting up their own business.
Carol herself made a significant career change in 2011 when at the age of 44 she left the organisation she had worked in for 28 years, went back to university and set up her own business. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Member of the Association for Coaching. Carol’s free ebook ‘5 Steps to Pursuing Your Passion at Mid-Life – A Guide to Designing a Career You Love’ can be downloaded at www.aboundingsolutions.com