What does bring your whole self to work actually mean? Are we kind enough to the people we work with to follow through on this promise?
As an employer, I think it means this. Creating an environment that encourages people to truly turn up and be themselves, with all the wonderfully messy parts of being a human being. If you want people to really bring their whole self to work, then they need to feel that all the stuff that makes them who they are, will be accepted and celebrated and that they don't feel compelled to leave part of themselves 'out'. Leaving parts of ourselves 'out', or not being true to ourselves is a dangerous past time.
This sounds wonderful and easy, but it's not really.
Some characteristics might not fit into our traditional perceptions of what is acceptable in a workplace, excessive expressions of emotion for example. As employees, we might not share our true feelings about a particular topic in a meeting for fear of being closed down or judged. Leaders need to have the presence to deal with whatever human behaviour comes their way. I'm not saying anything goes, clearly, we have social ‘norms' of behaviour that offer a pretty solid guide, but I am talking about the understanding that people have a whole load of stuff going on. If you're going to spend 8 hours a day with them then you better be capable of creating a culture that supports them in their whole lives, not just in the pursuit of whatever job you need them to do.
If, as leaders, we can create this space, this relationship with our teams, then perhaps those people can begin to be kinder to themselves. Being brave enough to speak their minds, show their true feelings, without the fear of being labelled or judged.
This is one of the things I like about Zoom (or any other video platform!). I love it when someone's 'real' life gets over the little Zoom wall we build around ourselves, a child, a dog, a delivery person. It's like a little window into the real world of that person, and I think it is wonderfully human.
Can we have a bit more of that please?