“If I could wave my magic wand, I’d set everybody free.” —Neil Peart
Call me Mr. Pixie.
That image, now delightedly (or unfortunately) burned into the memory of nearly every one of my colleagues and cohorts, is a special one for me. It was another Fun Friday team theme recently at work where I got to pick the theme.
And that was “Fairy Friday.” Seriously. In honor of my two little girls, who love all things Disney and fairy related (think Tinker Bell). The parameters were that our team, if so inclined, should dress up fairy-like, to symbolize the marketing magic we created for our recent PeopleFluent Mirror Suite™ launch.
I’m comfortable going all in when I commit to something – work, fun and all in between. It’s taken time to get there, but here I am, pixie dust and all, and anyone who knows me knows all this all too well. Pulling off any product and/or solution launch in global scope is incredibly stressful and painful at times whatever the industry is no easy trick, especially on time, fairly error free and within budget. Our entire team was totally all in making this a highly successful launch.
During high-pressure collaborative world of work activities, you can’t (and shouldn’t) help but to put your entire self out there, on the line, for all to see, with laughter, tears, face breakouts, sweat, belly aches, IBS, hairballs and all. Notice the first ingredient is laughter, though.
If you’re like me (and the PeopleFluent team I work with and my TalentCulture family) you want nothing less that true authenticity of those around you during stressful times and mellow times, including leadership, co-workers, direct reports, and volunteers if you have them.
Yes, authenticity. To be comfortable being yourself and to be celebrated bringing yourself to work (responsibly of course). Authenticity empowers diversity and diversity encourages authenticity – and both drive innovation and positive business outcomes. According to recent diversity research featured on HBR, six behaviors unlock innovation across the board:
- Ensuring that everyone is heard
- Making it safe to propose novel ideas
- Giving team members decision-making authority
- Sharing credit for success
- Giving actionable feedback
- Implementing feedback from the team
The research went on to say that leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights, and employees in a “speak up” culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential.
Mercy me, doesn’t that just get you jazzed? It does me. This kind of electricity is palatable and powers inspirational and aspirational productivity, to be the best you can be. That’s the feeling I get when I’m around my girls, Bea and Bryce, the Bhive as they’re known around our house.
Authenticity truly is more than a buzzword today and has powerful significance to both employee and employer. Authenticity is hard work and usually involves some risk, but the payoff potential is huge. It’s an inside job – you have to start with yourself – something we learned recently from Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt on #TChat.
“Fly your freak flags,” say Jason and Joe.
But it’s not that simple either. It’s not neat and orderly, it’s not always safe, it takes time and patience and tolerance, and it’s certainly not as common as we’d like to see, especially in the workplace, which is why:
- Fairies Rule. Business leaders who allow their employees to bring their whole selves to work, to find solutions to workplace problems together, magical things can happen. That’s because when we’re all encouraged to advance our skills, strengths and passions, we learn to create, seize and transform business opportunities into business outcomes – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (think the “magic song” from Cinderella). In authentic diverse environments, people usually have stronger social relationships that again produce greater results.
- And Fairies School. Again, employees want ongoing growth opportunities, workplace flexibility, tools and systems that encourage collaboration. They also want a commitment to a reciprocal climate of support and encouragement, all of which lead to payoffs in employee retention, satisfaction, and overall business performance. Leaders that plug into while enabling these power sources know it’s ultimately the key to success of HR and to the business.
If I could wave my magic want, I’d make everything all right. Anything is possible with the power of authenticity. Some might call this the eccentricity of Mr. Pixie, but I prefer authentricity.