Another new leader at my new company recently said that she was trying to decide how who she needed to be now was different than who she used to need to be. It was an interesting thought I have been reflecting on as I adjust to my new environment. A life change like a change in companies is a natural time for self-reflection. Successfully transitioning as a leader in a new company requires either reflection and adjustment, or an awful lot of luck. I’m definitely having to adjust.
My father once said he liked starting over as you could leave your mistakes behind. While I’m not sure I like it, he had a point. I’m the only one who knows what baggage I’m bringing with me. No one needs to know I used to be a bull in a china shop, or that I could be acidic when I didn’t agree. I can bring my hard-fought lessons with me and focus on building something positive I can feel good about. But what about the changes I will feel pressured to make that I’m not sure I want to make? What should I change? How much should I adapt? Who should I be in this new life?
Many large companies talk about diversity as they try to attract and retain talent. Most of them extend their definition of diversity to diversity of thought, in addition to visible differences. Some of them do a good job of living up to that vision. Only in the last few years have I fully appreciated the impact of doing this well versus doing it poorly. People simply don’t perform as well in an environment which values conformity at the expense of valuing them for who they are. I perform better when those around me, particularly my leaders, accept my personality and quirks. While I want to continue to develop and improve as a leader, I am no longer willing to sacrifice my core self for the sake of ambition.
Therefore, I will use this clean slate to try to take another positive step forward as a leader. But I will also bring my true self to work every day, and help those around me feel safe in doing the same. And I will be content with whatever results from being me.
“Be who you are, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” –Dr. Seuss