How Personal Identity and Being Inclusive Can Make or Break Your Career

How Personal Identity and Being Inclusive Can Make or Break Your Career
Image credit: Tom Merton | Getty Images
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In the new entrepreneurial world of work, people are attempting to establish themselves at a time when they are increasingly uncertain about their future.  Now more than ever, you must take accountability for yourself – and stay in control of what others are saying about you.

As such, you must always reflect the identity you seek to establish for yourself within the organization you serve. This means that you must be ever mindful of your unique differences and perspectives and how they can be best leveraged by your leaders and colleagues throughout the organization.

It’s easy to point fingers at others when problems arise, instead of rising to the occasion and taking the responsibility to handle them. Unfortunately, too many people are quick to complain about problems before they even try to find solutions or workarounds. These are the people that don’t know how to close opportunity gaps – because they don’t even see the opportunity within the problem.

As a responsible employee, your gut tells you to take action when faced with adversity. But unfortunately, more often than not, you don’t; instead, you wait for those around you to take the calculated risks that you are hesitant to take yourself. 

When you do see (identify) opportunity gaps, don’t hesitate; immediately find ways to seize (close) them. As you strive to stay on track towards building momentum to achieve success in your career, here are two opportunity gaps that can make or break your future – if you wait too long.

Find opportunities to be more inclusive

Being inclusive means that you must be more open-minded to fresh perspectives, new approaches, and opinions. Make the smart choice of getting out of your comfort zone, be more curious and make room for diversity of thought. 

It’s no longer about what you know, but what you do with what you know. We live in a wisdom based economy, one in which you must have the ability to bring the right people into the right conversations – by seeing beyond their job titles and job descriptions.

In an assessment by my organization, we asked leaders if they embrace diversity of thought and utilize everyone’s individual strengths. When 72% of respondents said – “always” – I had to question the validity of this answer, especially considering that 69% of these same respondents had said that they were – “sometimes” – vulnerable with their employees.

If your leaders are not leading by example – don’t wait – activate yourself to do what is required in a workplace that is more diverse than ever before.  Give yourself the room to welcome differences in thought and accept this one important fact: we all desire similar things – we just have unique options, different pathways to choose from. Never minimize the thinking of others – embrace it and learn to get more comfortable being more inclusive.

Find opportunities to establish your identity

Take ownership of your identity and don’t allow others to define it for you. Stop battling the gulf between assimilation and authenticity. Forget about what others want you to be and establish your own identity at work; don’t ask permission to be your most authentic self.

Everyone has distinction and this is what allows you to be original. But distinction is hard when you feel that you need to be someone that you are not. This is why originality is hard to find. People spend too much time mimicking others. Be courageous enough to live your identity – and equally encourage others live theirs.

Leaders are looking for people that are comfortable in their own skin – and are easily turned off by those that act differently depending upon the environment. Live your identity consistently and responsibly – and shine the stoplight of accountability on yourself, to be yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of an identity crisis – because when this happens your self-trust begins to wane and any momentum that you are trying to create will be lost.

Now is the time to seize the opportunity and be courageous enough to take action. Regardless of the outcome, you are earning respect and learning along the way. If failure is not an option, you are working for the wrong employer. No one has all of the answers, which means we all must be given room to fail.  In a sense, we are all experiencing on the job training all of the time. Don’t forget that risk is created for the organization that allows opportunity gaps to widen. Close the gaps before circumstances force your hand.

Glenn Llopis is the Chairman of the Glenn Llopis Group – a nationally recognized thought-leadership, human capital, and business strategy consulting firm. He is the best-selling author of the book Earning Serendipity and contributing writer to Forbes, Huffington Post, and Harvard Business Review. His new book The Innovation Mentality (Entrepreneur Press) will release February 2017.