It Should Never Be Expensive to be Ourselves: Remotely & Personally

We are living in unprecedented times. As frightening as this pandemic has been for the world, and the deaths just so tragic, it is my experience that we are working hard at discovering or practicing resilience. Indeed the uncertainty is palpable. The loss of jobs unfathomable. Yet, here we are demonstrating care and concern remotely and with a great deal of empathy.

I am not naive to some of the extreme behaviors of impatience and disdain for any number of losses–real and perceived. But, as I interface with leaders of businesses, institutions, and non-profits I am witnessing an acceleration of inclusivity as well as sensitivity. Thus, my premise: As LGBTQ persons celebrate their pride, and uniquely this month of June, can this not be a transformative moment in time to better accept and honor differences in work styles, locations, and persons period?

This article in many ways builds off of an article I wrote last year entitled LGBTQ Pride & Project Aristotle. For over two years, Google studied 180 of their teams, conducted 200- plus interviews, and analyzed over 250 different team attributes. The study looked at “what made teams effective”. https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding- team effectiveness/steps/introduction/ The results of the study: 5 key factors that enhanced effective, productive teams.

And so it is the essential factor of Psychological Safety I’d like to highlight, again. Why? Because the study found that it didn’t matter who was on the team. What mattered was how the team performed together. This, too, is true for members and leaders within the LGBTQ community. High-performing teams, cultures that are engaging, and businesses that are thriving are doing so because of “how” not “who”.

What is psychological safety? Two complementary definitions:

According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, who coined the term: “Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”

  • According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, who coined the term: “Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”
  • Timothy R. Clark (https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothyrclark/), in his new book, The Four Stages of Psychological Safety, writes: Psychological Safety means it’s not expensive to be yourself. And, when it’s socially, emotionally, politically, or economically expensive to be yourself, and say what you think, people don’t do it.

And so I ask you, should anyone ever feel that it is expensive to be one’s self? I want to suggest never ever.

What does this mean? It means the working mother under stress for having to home-school her children and manage a team should not feel it is expensive to say “wow, this is hard; but I have no doubt we can do this together.” It means the typically high-performer on a team should not find it expensive to say “I need some mental-health days. I’m spent.” And, it means the LGBTQ leader–in any industry–should never find it expensive to bring their whole self to work; and, has the freedom to be out without fear of judgment.

Let’s be honest, these past 3 months have been a challenge. But, I have never been more excited to see the kind of empathy and care that I am right now for both our employees and our customers. It’s cliche’ but life is very short and work is actually temporary. People are what matter! Relationships are what make a difference. We all have our stuff. We all define and express ourselves differently. And, we all have our own insecurities as well as

Business works best when we choose to play well together. Work environments are motivating when we feel safe with one another. And, revenues accelerate when we know it is NOT expensive to be ourselves. Why? We perform better. And, quite frankly, we all feel better–about our roles, our leaders, and the pride we have in our companies for enabling everyone to be themselves.

Given our current reality as we are fostering relatability; and, particularly remotely. Let me propose a few questions for your consideration as a leader.

  • Does everyone feel “attended to”. Do your people know you care, and that you have their backs?
  • Do you take time to understand not just the working needs, but also the personal lives of your people? If you do….relationships will enhance and results will advance.
  • Can everyone within your circle influence and leadership bring their “whole selves” to work; and, then, freely and appropriately speak about their lives?
  • Are there any biases you may have that impact how you treat and relate to others; remotely or in the office?

It’s big business to get it right with our teams. For those of us who are bottom line thinkers, this leadership advisor and coach-consultant wants to make it clear that results happen through relationships. First, we get the relationship right—safe, respected, and engaged—then we produce results that are exponentially extraordinary! And, yes, even in this uncertain and socially-distant environment of possibility. Lead Away!

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