stand out, fit in and be yourself

How to Stand out, Fit in and Be Yourself

Have you ever struggled to align your goals to stand out, fit in and be yourself? Increasingly the clients I speak to do. Finding the balance or the sweet spot in the Venn diagram can feel like conflicting goals or competing goals.

A team or organisational eco system means we have to adapt to the style of work, the cultural norms and ways of working. Examples might be an eco-system that supports flexibility but not boundaries, or a culture that rewards getting work done, executing and being action oriented over and above thoughtfulness, alignment and bigger picture thinking. Every time we are consumed by these issues it takes our energy and focus away from our real work, it stops our flow and our rhythm is disrupted.

Other problems may occur when we find others speaking over us in meetings and the relationship or power dynamic means we want to fit in with the group, or team and not challenge the dynamic. How do we stand out and contribute as a valuable member of the team when others dominate?

I could continue with plenty of scenarios here however I am absolutely certain you have your own examples to draw upon.

So, how do we balance these important and at times opposing goals? Here are just a few tips to start you off and get your thinking started… (we will have plenty more on Fast Track career conversations podcasts this year).

Fit in Tip

The greatest piece of advice I have heard from a clever C suite executive was to focus on the operating rhythm of the organisation. Work out the way the business runs, the calendar, the synergies across teams and what meeting cadence there is and then align your personal operating rhythm with the business. This allows you to not waste energy trying to fit in… you already have the logistics sorted and can then work to the natural rhythm of the team or organisation… and If you are new to the business and team… it’s one of the first things you should find out. Listen to Lisa Gray talk about creating alignment in business here

Stand out Tip

“Don’t jump out in the corridor and tell me you tied your shoe laces today” is a quote I often repeat from a former senior banking executive. Standing out doesn’t mean boasting about your achievements and nor does it mean hiding in the corner waiting for others to notice you. It is a fine balance of owning your work, being responsible for your work, volunteering to add value on projects and listening deeply so you can ask excellent and relevant questions. Too many work reputations have been sullied by the ill-gotten advice to share all your achievements with as many people as possible. Further advice can be found at “How to have ambition without being annoying” podcast with Rhonda Brighton-Hall here

Be Yourself Tip

Awareness gives you a choice and so continually understanding your strengths, your values and how you best perform is a must. Learning to be calm (breathe), operate with openness and curiosity and be your best self (a job we never finish working at) is a start. Be clear about your intention for yourself, understanding your derailers and where you are placing your attention is the next step and then we can find some simple actions to help you be Your Best Self and Fit in and Stand out. Listen to Susan Ferrier talking about Self Awareness here.

Just a little thought starter for you as the year begins to help you balance . Don’t waste your energy in the outer zones, find your sweet spot to stand out, fit in and be yourself.