Colin Yeow - Mar 6, 2018

Self Awareness in Leadership and in Life

Are you the same person at home as you are at work? 

Many people believe that they have different personalities at home and at work. And why not? Unless we play the same roles at home and at work, wouldn’t we behave differently?

My guess would be that the latter is true.

Perhaps the question should be: are we really different or do we just use different aspects of our personalities in different situations?

I’m no different. At work, I tend to be more outspoken, assertive, analytical, questioning, deep thinking and also relational, often displaying the mentoring side of my character.

At home, while maintaining the relational aspect, I tend to be quieter, accommodating, more of an implementer and planner, often task-driven to a fault, but far less analytical or questioning.

Do I have two personalities? I hope not! I believe that I tend to flex and adapt depending largely on two things – my respective roles, as well as to complement the people I work and live with. Part of this has to do with expectations as well, what psychologists term as social norms or role theory.

Over the course of my work with people, I’ve become convinced of this. I’ve met people who are successful people managers, well-loved by their staff and yet, by their own admission, are not entirely comfortable being relational or readily connecting with their team members if it wasn’t part of their job. I’ve met successful Chief Financial Officers who wouldn’t care too much about details, data and financial figures in their personal lives, yet do a wonderful job at work with those exact same things.

Besides being influenced by roles and social norms, the other aspect that might cause us to behave differently is what is termed as learned behaviour (vs inherited behaviour) in the field of social science.

Many of these successful people have developed themselves to learn different behaviours and strategies that allow them to not just cope, but be thrive in tasks that they would normally not associate themselves with based on their innate behaviours.

To me, understanding the possible reasons why we may behave or think differently in different situations, is the key to our success in life and in our relationships, whether at home or at work – this allows us to create strategies that we can use to enhance our personal effectiveness.

How we relate to others is also important and if we rely only on what we are born with, our chance of success will probably be far less than if we relied not just on what nature has provided but also with what we have gained over the years through nurturing and personal development.

Perhaps the more pertinent and challenging question for all of us is, in the midst of playing different roles in our increasingly complex and busy lives, how do we adapt successfully while remaining true to ourselves?

“Everyone wants to belong, or be a part of something bigger than themselves, but it’s important to follow your heart and be true to yourself in the process.”

–          Emily Giffin, Author

This article was originally published in Emergenetics International Blog Self Awareness in Leadership and in Life"

Written by Colin Yeow