Work is increasingly seen as an important part of our self-expression, personal growth and fulfillment. More people are rejecting the idea of putting on a professional mask at work and having to separate their work and personal lives. What does it mean for corporate leaders, business owners and team members to embrace their Whole Self at work? How can bringing your whole self to work help to increase engagement, satisfaction and performance?
In this article, we’re going to look at 3 powerful books and several core ideas around the concept of wholeness at the workplace or embracing your whole self at work.
In Radical Candor, Kim Scott talks about how to be a kickass boss by caring personally about your people while challenging them directly. There are at least 2 powerful mindset shifts here:
• All of us (bosses and staff alike) are humans with hopes and vulnerabilities. To be professional doesn’t necessarily mean you must hide your feelings. By all means exercise emotional intelligence and control. But in addition, bring your whole self to work: let people know you as a “real” person and help each team member to achieve their life aspirations through work.
• At different points in our lives, our priorities shift (e.g. we may want to slow down just after having a new baby or when a family member is sick). Instead of defining potential in terms of people’s desire and ability to move up the hierarchy, think in terms of their desired growth trajectory at the moment. Superstars (who currently want a steep growth trajectory in terms of challenges and growth) are as important as Rockstars (who are rock-solid in their knowledge/experience and happy in their current role). Seek to match opportunities with people’s desires while keeping overall team needs in mind.
To bring your whole self to work, you must be willing to show your vulnerabilities, including your fears and imperfections. In Daring Greatly, Dr Brene Brown focuses on the importance of embracing vulnerability. All human beings have a fundamental need for connection, love, and belonging. Yet, we fear rejection and being inadequate. We try to hide our vulnerabilities behind masks and defensiveness, only to end up creating a greater sense of disconnect.
When you bring your whole self to work, live wholeheartedly and make it safe for others to do likewise, you’re setting the foundation to build a shame-resilient organization. In organizations plagued by shaming (e.g. finger-pointing, gossiping, harassment and name-calling), people dare not speak up, try new things or persevere in face of failure. By helping people to feel “good enough” as who they are, you pave the way for creativity, innovation and learning, making it safe for people to engage despite uncertainty and emotional risks.
A New Generation of Organizations
Reinventing Organizations talks about a new generation of organizations that have emerged to combine Wholeness with Self-management and Evolutionary Purpose, thus functioning more in sync with our modern ideals and complexities.
• Wholeness: People bring their whole selves to work instead of putting on a professional mask;
• Self-management: Organizations are run based on peer relationships instead of hierarchy or consensus; and
• Evolutionary purpose: Organizations operate as soulful entities with aspirations, and people are invited to align their personal calling with organizational purpose.
The book traces the evolution of human consciousness and how organizational models have evolved over the years. Indeed, there was a time when it was the norm for people to follow strict rules and routines at work and act in accordance with what’s expected of their profession. Over time, this has given way to achievement-orientation (including bending/changing rules to get better results), embracing who you are (including playing to your strengths) and aligning people with organizational ideals. The book explains how the new organizational model can help to overcome many modern organizational problems such as bureaucracy and infighting.
Bringing your Whole Self to Work
Are YOU bringing your whole self to work, or do you still separate your professional identity from your personal identity? Can you improve the alignment between your work and life aspirations, and help others in your organization to do the same?
Our workplace will soon be predominantly filled by Millennials and Generation Zs who value personal freedom and self-expression. Understanding and embracing wholeness at work can certainly help your organization to stay relevant, while potentially improving engagement, performance and fulfillment for you and your team!
Loved this article? Do also read about the top 10 lessons on success and integrating your life by our ReadinGraphics founder!