62% of us are constantly adapting, changing and controlling to impress others at work.

(Courageous Success Research 2020)

Can you be a control freak at work?

Here in the UK we are learning to live with the day to day challenges of change.  Changes in messages from the government, changes in what we can and can’t do.  Changes in our teams, our roles, our days.  Courageous Success research shows that 100% of us use control as a strategy at work for our confidence.  We use it to get through.  There are of course upsides, that is why we do it.  But there are also challenges with this – stubbornness, a lack of agility and de-humanising the workplace to name just a few.

Do you;

Use data and fact, plan, prepare, aim for a good hair day (had to drop that one in!), switch on management speak, copy other’s styles, become more serious, portray a more professional image, stick to what you know, hold back the jokes, be what you think others want to see, self deprecate, become more assertive, work harder, do too many things yourself?

All to impress others?

Bet you do!  This constant changing, adapting and controlling to impress others at work, what if it was holding back your career and success?  What if it was affecting your engagement?  A 2020 Gallup survey shares that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement but an alarming 65% of managers are not engaged or are actively disengaged.  If you are in the mindset to prove your competence at work and react to impress and at the same time seeking recognition of your efforts from others are you driving your own disengagement?

In our work in eradicating imposter syndrome two of the lowest scoring statements on assessment are;

  • I trust that I won’t get it wrong, I don’t need to plan and control my approach.
  • I don’t change my approach when with those senior to me.

If you had to score your agreement with these two statements with 10 being yes, I agree and 1 being no, I don’t agree, what would your scores be?

Let’s look at these five words separately;

Constantly – Being on show all of the time is exhausting.  Ask yourself how much you are acting, is it constant?  Are there people, meetings, occasions where you let go?  What changes then?  What are people’s reactions to you?  The same?  Better?  Different?  It’s exhausting to constantly impress so notice your habits and patterns.

Adapting – hats!  Do you adapt your style to fit with others?  Imagine watching yourself throughout your days?  How many different personalities do you have?  Staying true to you means that you are staying in control, healthily.  How can we embrace diversity and be truly inclusive if we all adapt to other people?  And they are adapting to us!  No wonder over 90% of us have imposter syndrome!

Changing – who are you going to be today?  My favourite program as a young child was Mr Ben.  I loved dressing up and imagining that I was different characters.  We all want to belong and be accepted for who we are.  But if we don’t share who we are and change our personalities at work then people will never see our real authenticity and strengths.

Controlling  – You will never be able to control everything.  Have you ever worked for a controlling leader or manager?  Trust yourself more.  Yes, you can be organised and have things in hand but if you give 100% and control everything it’s a flawed strategy to impress.  It can even say “I don’t need you” and so you up your own workload!

Impress – 100% of us feel that we need to prove our competence at work. Reflect on who impresses you.  What about them is impressive?  Confidence?  Humour?  Positivity?  Charisma?  All of these things come naturally when you are being the real you.  Use yourself to impress!