Today’s employee wants to engage in a more meaningful and purposeful way. They want to throw titles and corporate speak out the door. They want a more genuine environment where people can share their concerns about the business, their personal struggles and ways to collectively solve problems. Workplace silos, the politics of leadership and the fight for recognition make it difficult for these employees to be productive.
We all experience similar challenges in the workplace, just in different forms. Everyone is hurting, but most are scared to share it because they believe this will disrupt any momentum they have. The trick is to connect with your colleagues in ways that promote transparency and unity. People must learn how to feel comfortable about sharing more about themselves; their personal selves. I have learned that when people know your personal backstory they approach you more respectfully. Your colleagues become more aware of what really matters to you and will find ways to integrate your heart into your work. I have also learned that when this approach doesn’t work, you won’t fit into that culture.
Everyone has a backstory. Unfortunately, most people feel that if they disclose it, it will weaken them. In fact, the reverse happens because all our stories overlap – and those parts that we share connect us. Why do you think small groups and online communities have become so popular? In today’s world, people want to connect with others in ways that matter equally to their hearts, and their heads.
Here are (6) personal traits that will help you accelerate your influence at work:
1. Your Goals and Aspirations:
Let others know about what you strive to become, where you are headed and / or what path you desire to take in your career. It’s ok to be open about what you long for. Discussions about goal setting are always enlightening and create great dialogue. They connect people in profound ways that bring them closer together – and that help people work more strategically with one another.
Perhaps you are in middle management and your goal is to lead a business division in your organization. Not only can the right succession plan be put into place, but maybe you can be assigned as the next employee resource group (ERG) leader that will offer you the experiences and exposure that will be required to reach your ultimate goal.
2. Your Heritage:
Don’t ever assume that others know your cultural background based on your name alone. In fact, even if they can figure it out, they may not understand the nuances of your culture. Your heritage defines your customs, attitude and outlook. It represents your roots and most likely how you were raised. It helps others understand how you are wired as a leader, decision maker and individual.
For example, if you are from South Korea and are actively involved in your community, you are well versed in the desires and market trends of your culture. Based on how you share this trait with others, there can be an opportunity to work with as an advisor to your organization’s multicultural marketing department.
3. Your Passion:
What excites you most? Share it with others. This cultivates an interesting dialogue because it touches the core of what fuelsyou and gets you going each day. Your passion defines the magnitude of the impact you seek to create. While you may surprise some people, it may get you closer to the next opportunity in your organization. Believe me, I always find ways to align the passion of my employees with their responsibilities.
Coaches can be great mentors. I remember that one of my managers was passionate about being a high school baseball coach. After he invited me to a few games I realized that he would be a valuable asset to our organization’s mentoring program.
4. Your Adversities / Struggles:
This one is delicate, but necessary. We have all faced hurdles in life and it amazes me just how much we all have in common when adversities are shared. How you can contribute to your organization by utilizing the lessons learned from your experiences with adversity can make a big difference.
Like many of us who have aging parents, caring for elderly is challenging. But over time you acquire patience and an aptitude and spirit of wanting to help others. This experience can help you serve as small group leader to others that share the same struggle in your organization; but also gives you the opportunity to support your company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
5. Your Family/ Childhood:
Talking about your parents and/or siblings will give your colleagues a broader understanding of who you are and what you represent as an individual. Your family defines your fabric and materials that influenced your upbringing.
That is why your childhood can help others learn a lot about your perspectives. For example, I grew up in a small town called Azusa, in Southern California. Because my father worked at the Miller Brewing Company just down the street he would come home for lunch every day and I was able to spend a lot of time with my Dad, especially during the summer, where he would share stories about the impact of his immigrant past and his experiences in Cuba before Castro.
Perhaps now you know why I write about the immigrant perspective.
6. Your Hobbies
What you do outside of work fuels your heart and soul. Whether it’s your desire to play an instrument or give back to your local community. Share what drives you in ways that others don’t know about. I remember I had a boss that played the guitar. I also knew of (3) others in my work that played instruments and they formed a band that performed for the organization.
These (6) personal stories represent the real you: why you think, act and innovate the way that you do. Open your mind to seeing beyond the obvious ways to create influence in your work. By sharing your personal stories, the impact that you can have on those around you will be greatly magnified.