Jon Michail's Personal Branding Masterclass

Expressing Your True Self in the Workplace

July 27, 2023 Jon Michail Season 2 Episode 93
Jon Michail's Personal Branding Masterclass
Expressing Your True Self in the Workplace
Show Notes Transcript

Emphasizing authenticity while maintaining professionalism is pivotal in today's professional world. Let go of the misconception that suppressing your personality is necessary for success. Instead, Jon will teach you how embracing your genuine self can foster creativity and enhance productivity in the workforce. Listen now!

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Podcast Editor and Producer: Ana Carolina Alves 

Additional Voice: Charles The Voice 

Music: Have a Smoke by Crowander (CC BY 4.0)


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Welcome to Jon Michail’s Personal Branding Masterclass. Jon is the founder and CEO of image group international, an award-winning image consulting and personal branding pioneer established in 1989. This podcast will bring you old-school wisdom, inspiring ideas, strategies and hacks for the new tech world. Here you will learn everything about personal branding: the system, the techniques and the right mindset to have a successful personal brand, image and reputation.

Hi, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the show how we empower you to build, grow and monetize your personal and business brand. Today we'll talk about an article I wrote recently for Forbes, it was called unleash your true self at work, but leave your baggage behind. Before we start, I would like to call me and ask you to connect with me on social media. You can find me on Twitter as John underlined Michael on LinkedIn is John Michael and on Facebook is image Group International. Now let's get started. Managers used to love emphasizing the need to bring your whole self to work before COVID The notion of bringing our authentic selves to work was revolutionary for companies that for years have prioritized divided in the personal and professional aspects of life. Actually, to be fair, this has been happening probably longer than before COVID Because the digital world has certainly influenced a lot of that transformation, it was believed that individuals needed to put aside their personal issues, the focus entirely on the paid employment as organizations needed that to be effective and productive. Of course, the narrative has changed now, and certainly is different. The digital revolution has changed many things, including the way we work allowing us to be more connected and accessible than ever before, you could say 724 365. That's how much connected we are if we choose. Now, a personal life at times is impossible to isolate when mobile phones and internet allow you to stay in touch with everyone at any time and from any location. You know, this increased connectivity and accessibility has also impacted how we act with each other and also then interact with each other, lean into a new emphasis on bringing your whole self to work. Our society is divided by you in demanding authenticity, a level that did not exist only a few decades ago. This has been further encouraged by the influx of women into the workplace and with a greater focus on, of course, mental health and individualism in society as a whole. So individuals now are encouraged to be authentic in the workplace, and of course, embrace their unique personalities. 

And of course, something we can argue from the perspective of building your authentic personal brand, especially if your your whole game is really to be trusted, because without authenticity trust is then questionable. So in then bringing once complete self to work means ensuring a safe workplace for men and women in general. So this assumption, you know that an employee must fit in a specific gender age style or personality pattern is no longer acceptable. Although, of course, that's on the, I suppose, optics perspective. But behind the scenes, we know that nothing really changes because something is optically changed does not mean it's actually changed in its integrity. So what that means is with promote, you know, with promoting a lot of concepts, but at times things behind the scenes are totally different, especially when there's money and power involved. So the environment for women, people of color, the LGBTQI plus community, and anyone who prefers a more unique style has generally changed dramatically as a result of this social upheaval. So it's not just to allow employees to be authentic at work anymore. And that would sort of lessen the stress and mental health problems, you know, the authenticity, concept at times could actually increase all of that, believe it or not, it's just it's really paradoxical how one or the other can still have an impact on mental health. However, it's very now clearly regarded, though, as an employee's duty. And according to research, it's also said to certainly boost creativity and productivity. So authenticity is a positive, as long as it's what we would call is an empowering environment, as opposed to a toxic environment. And many word crisis today are toxic, either overtly or covertly. And I would say you could probably pick that depending how in tune you up. So according to this hard to disagree with theory, that the more contented a workforce is the better for the organization. And I certainly would say that's true, certainly in my case. Do it. However, there is a certain amount of complexity to this concept of bringing your total authentic self to work. And what I mean by that is, while it's important to express yourself in the workplace, and to be open and honest with your colleagues, it is also important to understand the unwritten rules of the workplace games that go on within the corporate framework, because human beings psychologically doesn't matter in 5000 years, virtually have not changed our motivations internally, are very similar. So just because you've got all the tech, and all the noise going on out there, the human psychology is very different. And this is what you've got to surely remember. So this means that it is necessary to buy the balance between expressing your personality, your values, etc. And remaining professional, it is important to remember that while it is great to bring your authentic self to work, you should also remember to keep your dirty laundry at home, otherwise, your reputation could suffer. Now, I have many, many, many examples of that, especially for my younger generation that has not really you know, was not brought up to tip them dirty laundry at home, because and this is not making anyone wrong. 

So you gotta hear it for what it is social media, tech companies, etc, have changed paradigms of people to think that it's okay, you know, they have promoted transparency. And again, authenticity, although they don't mean authenticity, the way I mean authenticity, it's all about expressing, expressing, expressing, and of course, the point through their algorithms and control mechanisms, then they will cancel you when it chooses them. And of course, some of that will also then play in the workplace without social engineering going on, where potentially your reputation will be damaged. So it's important to be really clear, this Be authentic? Yes, 100%. But also be very clear that A times the environment you're operating it in, you know, could be highly political, very toxic, and certainly quite nefarious from the perspective of what they tell the world and what really is going on. So, you know, when you hear politicians talk about authenticity, that is not the authenticity we're talking about. Here, we're talking about something that's integral to your spirit, you know, en totally different, because language, remember, is weaponized as a propaganda tool, always has been and always will be. So it's important that you go into what do they really mean by, you know, this particular way of being said, it's very important, and I can only share this with you just to save you a lot of heart a lot, a lot of good people out there, good, honest people, they just want to really live their lives authentically, at times, it's a balance. So this is, of course, my work is all about authentic personal branding. But at the same time, there's always a caveat, just be aware of the well you're entering before you start exposing everything, and certainly, certainly never your dirty laundry. So it's true that the idea of bringing the real you to work has been gaining traction in the past that guy we know this archetype. And it's been gaining traction for different reasons. Of course, right now being authentic, has got hide value, because there is so much fakery going on, especially in the online world. So you know, you're going to read so much cliche stuff about authentic, authentic, authentic, it's just become the new world right now. And what the straight smartlace in you has to be, is that really authentic? Or am I getting hooked into some sort of spin agenda here. So indeed, it has become increasingly important to be true to oneself within the office 100%. So keep on reaffirming that and in my opinion, always should have been like that. But, of course, it's essential to keep soft disclosure. at a professional level. If you have not something you want to share about your personal life. Go and see a professional about your best friend at work. Even your random colleague does not need to know about that, why? Or make it clear to you because they can't surely help you. There is a rule out there always share information with people that can support you at at a higher level than you can support yourself. So if it's just gonna be chit chat, for the sake of just chit chat, potentially you could be doing more damage to yourself. So you know, unless you trust love them, and now virtually die for you. Again, that's not that's fairly rare with most people. But if you've got people like that in your corner, good on you, you might feel very safe. It's totally up to you. Right? I'm just bringing up some questions. So authenticity to reaffirm is not about sharing every detail of your life fellow workers. It's a man expressing yourself with dignity and precision. So while authenticity is crucial, there are still unwritten ground rules that must be followed and they are unwritten and this is where you get tripped if you don't understand that, okay? And this is where naivety would come in, are certainly where it say, Well, you, let's say to your manager or to your boss, you could say, you'd suggested that we can all open up. But of course, there is unwritten rules. And this is this is where your own wisdom, your inner wisdom has to come in. Managers are expected, of course, to set an example for others to follow. 

Of course, we know this through leadership. And according to academics, Lisa Rosch and Leanne Offerman in the 2013 paper published in the Harvard Business Review, that's an expectation. So that has not changed. But to achieve this, the research offered some of this following advice. And it's asking for candid feedback from coworkers and following up with coaching. This is very important. Now, again, internal coaching at times can be biased. Why? Because whoever's paying the bills is very, it's very hard not to serve that master. So just be conscious of that. Again, I've worked with a lot of companies that have internal coaching programs, you go and see the internal coach, and before you know, the internal coach is positioning you a guide as per the company's policies. So just remember, your personal power, okay? You know, if you're going to be asking for advice, just make sure they're independently non biased. Okay. And this is something for you to consider. And also consider carefully whether to share personal information, whether it is relevant, and refrain from inventing on embellishing stories. This is a big one, mental health is definitely been weaponized in some workplaces. And the embellishment of stories has created all sorts of problems for people, men and women. Okay, that specifically, you know, the war embellished, I don't know how to there were at times, and of course created serious damage to people's reputations, I'm sure you work, especially for a larger organization, or even a smaller one. For that matter, I'm sure you've probably come across that in your time set, always test the waters by observing how forthcoming your coworkers up. So without this talking about your feelings and experiences of work can swiftly backfire if it's poorly planned, done at the wrong moment, or goes against organizational or cultural standards. So these recommendations are useful if you want to offer a more genuine version of yourself at work, but they also emphasize how much of this is not natural. One gets the idea that you know, presenting your entire self to work requires some sort of performance, if not intentional effort. That said, showcasing one's true self without breaking the unbreakable rules of corporate culture can be achieved by understanding the boundaries and openness in work environments. And this is, you know, I am specified work environments that I am this is very, very important, just to be really, really clear about that. And also, if you're not sure, just clarify that maybe with HR, or anyone else have relevance in reference to getting clear with this, or even the top leadership, if that's obviously an opportunity, certainly do that. This can vary, remember from one company to another, thus, it's important to get a feeling of what is appropriate or not. And Google's not going to give you the answer to this one, go into your culture and speak to people. So for instance, one of the ways to express your true self at work at a workplace is by dressing in clothing that allows you to display your personality. But again, there's conditions to that as well. And basically, if your dress, for instance, is sabotaging you, and the company can't tell you for whatever reasons, one of the major reasons is they don't want to be sued. Okay, that's when then you need objective advice that really has no bias attached to it, or some politically correct agenda. But it would be wise to refer to the organization's Of course, dress God as an example. And to choose an outfit that expresses your personality, you know, and respects the workplace dressing rules, including the unwritten ones. And in my experience, having done this for well over 34 years, I'd say Classic with a twist works beautifully. And it's something that is what I would call timeless, and it works virtually for 99% of people. So remember, everything matters and things like this are not to be taken for granted. Just say you can be authentic, that will be just dumb, in my opinion, again, so you still have to be intentional in being authentic as well. And of course, I've used the word professional. In other words, love it or hate it, revealing too much of who you are, could hurt both your professional and financial prospects. And this is an interesting one financial, and of course, people rarely talk about the financial damage that comes from sharing too much of your baggage of course. If you have a look at the Instagram, and flight book of like a contrary to what is promoted online, a lot of people have shared a lot. And of course, it's done serious damage to them. And there's a reason why Facebook is called Flight book. 

Okay, so my final thoughts, it's critical to keep in mind that while it's possible to bring your authentic self to work, you should still keep your dirty laundry and home. I can't stress that enough. It's necessary to comprehend restrictions on soft disclosure at work and to exercise street smart caution when deciding what information to share with colleagues, even more so in a politically charged environment. Additionally, it's best to keep in mind that you can still express your personality, your spirit of work without breaking any of these unwritten rules, entrepreneurs, and one person businesses are also not excluded. Because success depends on bringing your true self to work. Yes, we agree with that. But also street smartness is essential to incorporate here. So adopting authenticity and practicing authentic leadership are two ways you might incorporate this idea. This simply means developing a personal brand that reflects your ideals and actual self by incorporating genuine and authentic personal brand leadership that makes you stand out for the right reasons. And make sure that people recognize and value your distinctive personality. And that's it for today. Well, thank you for listening. I hope you have found these insights valuable. And of course, expressing your true authentic self in the workplace is what I recommend 100% But you've got to be really smart on how do you do that. If you had any questions or would like assistance in your personal branding journey, please contact us and see if we're a good fit what details are in the episodes description. Before we conclude, I want to let you know that we will be taking a short break when we return when new episodes in September. All take a few weeks conducting seminars around the globe with some personal leave to recharge and brand new even more valuable content when I return a thank you everyone for your support and look forward to next time. 

Jon Michail’s Personal Branding Masterclass Podcast is sponsored by Image Group International, a global team of practical, digitally savvy personal brand and image strategists based in Australia, committed to maximizing your impact, influence and authority in the business world. To learn more and apply for your personal coaching, seminars and group workshops, please visit or call 1800 631 311.