Be human in and outside of work

We spoke with leadership coach, and ex Manchester City Football Club Head of Education, Pete Lowe about what he thought the phrase ‘bringing yourself to work’ meant and how this can be successfully achieved without tarnishing your professionalism. To Pete, this is simple it means bringing your happiness, your worries, ambitions, your concerns and your wacky concepts into your place of work… we happen to agree.

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What does the concept ‘bring your whole self to work’ mean to you?

I feel that this represents exactly where we are in life in with regards work right now! This is not a criticism but we concentrate so much now on breaking everything down into small discussion points, mildly interesting perspectives or very interesting ones I have worked in a very high-performance culture, where leadership created this work philosophy through this standard of performance due to the team’s motivation which was very successful. Not surprising really!

It’s simple, when you bring your whole self to work you bring happiness, worries, concerns, ambitions, ideas, wacky concepts (and trust me there were no wackier than me!). What makes you do that is the fact that you are a human being. It is just not possible to switch off personal factors in your private life to such a degree that they do not come into work! I defy anybody to do that and leaders who expect work colleagues to do that are either mad, unconnected to human emotions (emotionally unintelligent) and who lack authenticity as leaders. They are strong words I’m aware. I do not believe or accept the concept that we are different people in home from those we are in work. We all have dominating aspects of our character or personality and when it comes to moments of expression, the “take the penalty” moment of huge gigantic pressure their character really shows. They can only bring their whole self to work if they are encouraged to do so.

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How can you encourage different generations to bring their entire selves to work?

Culture precedes results! It is the DNA of the business and sits in the walls of the building. It lives and breathes through believing mindsets. So, the answer to this is so simple make everyone  no matter what age, colour, creed and so on and so on feel wanted, important, needed, mega valued and more than employees. Make them feel as though they are the business and then you have a chance of all being that, no matter what generation they belong to. The reason why this has become a talking point is because so many places don’t do that!

Winners are winners before they become winners. Champions do extra
— Bill Walsh

A brilliant phrase. But it is also down to leadership to help create the “winner within” us all, no matter what generation!

Do you think this is a concept that the younger workforce feels more comfortable with?

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Not necessarily. This all comes down to the ability to create teams, to gel people together so the sum of the parts become bigger than the whole! If we keep using phrases that emphasise the differences in age and experience then its likely that some will feel differently about themselves and their place in the team. The most successful team I ever worked in had a real cross section of ages, from very experienced to very young and in-experienced. But the mix was infectious, powerful beyond any words because they were able to put behind them any selfish preconceptions about, they are being more important than others.

Generational gaps are always likely to exist. Instead of work places making the existence of this a focal point they should concentrate on bringing them together as one by encouraging the factors expressed above.

What do you think are the mental restraints people put on themselves in a working environment?

People are frightened of failure (this is so powerful its beyond true!) This is a great quote from a truly awful film on True Movies (what an admittance) called Apple Mortgage Cake….

If you give fear and doubt so much energy, they are so powerful the will eat you alive

But equally a very significant fear which creates mental issues is the fear of success. To succeed you must hurt yourself (through effort and commitment) a bit more than a little and it is often that realisation of what must be done that creates the most enormous fears.  

What is the meaning of professionalism? Arguably it’s now about getting the job done – can’t this mean different things?

It refers to using every ounce of ability you have daily to create the highest standards in your work possible.

It means… having a hard work ethic so ingrained in you that you rely on this to underpin your talent and develop it. That is where so many inexperienced team members go badly wrong. They rely on talent to create the standards. The work of Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University in California is important here. Hard work develops talent because it allows you to discover yourself how to use that talent to its greatest effect.

It means… never letting team mates down, even if you are off your game and it’s a bad day.

It means… being honest with yourself and your performance and even more honest with team mates.

It means… being accepting of the strengths of others, greater than some of your abilities. Your responsibility is to learn from them so you can do it better!

It means… being a leader, yes, a leader, not a follower. Leaders create leaders not followers!

It means… there is no place in professionalism for comfort zone dwellers (those who do the bare minimum), Lone Rangers or those who have the “Disease of Me” (I am responsible for this good work, I’m more important than you, I don’t need you syndrome!)