Could conformity be limiting your team’s potential?
6 min read
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For years, we’ve been taught that conformity leads to harmony across society. It creates a safety net and makes social encounters more comfortable because there’s a level of expectation and normalcy that is met. There may be an element of truth in that rationale, but are you limiting potential in your business, your team or your company by not allowing uniqueness to flourish?
What makes you stand out from the rest when you are the same as everyone else? What makes a customer want your services versus the other options? What sets you apart? As an entrepreneur and business leader, it’s your responsibility to understand the power and potential of being unique. Then, you must uncover, promote and foster this within your team.
The purple house
I drove through a neighborhood not too long ago and I noticed all of the homes had brown rooves. All of the homes were brick, spaced 15 feet apart, and had two-car garages and one tree in the front yard. All had black shutters. I’ve been to this neighborhood several times and I’ve had to use my GPS to find my final destination each time. You see, everything looks the same. There’s no unique identifier that stands out that triggers my mind to get to my location. Each time, I get confused. I’m pretty good at navigating, but there’s something about this neighborhood that spins me for a loop: There’s too much conformity.
Imagine there was one purple house in the middle of the brick homes. I’d imagine the neighbors would use that house as a mile marker because it’s a landmark that is easy to identify: “It’s across the street from the purple house” or “If you’ve passed the purple house, you’ve gone too far.”
How about if you owned the purple house? How easy would those directions be? “Turn on the street and go to the purple house.” It would be massively easy to identify the destination because it’s the only one that looks a certain way. There’s no ambiguity when you stand out from the rest.
Find your employees’ unique identifiers
I’m a 6’1″ woman, and I’ve been this height since I was 16 years old. I wasn’t a fan at first. If I was coordinated and could play basketball then maybe I would have embraced my height, but I wasn’t, so I didn’t. I wanted to look like everyone else. I didn’t want my homecoming date to come to my chest. I didn’t want to crawl onto the odd yellow bus they make you ride because I was too tall to stand up straight. I didn’t want to go into the bathroom and be able to see my face in the mirror when I stood in the stall. I just wanted to be short like all the other girls. Until I realized that’s not what I wanted at all.
There was something that changed when I started to embrace who I was and change the way I viewed my height. I realized that, like the purple house, I had this incredible identifier that only I possessed. People could quickly identify me. People wanted to ask me questions and talk to me. People remembered me. There was nothing I needed to do other than walk into a room, and I was the focus of attention. There is a sense of power when you realize the goldmine you’re sitting on by being different. I don’t have to try, I just need to show up.
Every person has their own unique makeup: tall, short, quirky, blue eyes, demanding, tenacious, sweet, caring or the desire to have blue hair — we all are uniquely made. There is only one me and only one you.
As a leader, each member of your team has a unique identifier. He or she may not even know it, but it’s to your advantage to discover it. If you lead a team of 30 individuals, you have 30 unique ways to advance. You have 30 unique sources of potential. You have 30 unique paths to success. If you treat your team members as if they should conform like the brick homes, then what will make them stand out? What will make them want to raise their hand and identify innovative solutions? What would make your internal or external customers gravitate toward you and want to form an alignment? What makes you different than your competition? Is the team robotic in its approach to business or is there an environment that exists to promote new ideas and ways of thinking?
Capping the idea of individuality and uniqueness is going to limit how one shows up, how one innovates, how one stands out. Allowing these to flourish permits growth and ultimately is what fosters attraction. It’s not only your role to promote this level of individuality, but also to help those on your team members who might be unaware of what makes them stand out.
Each one of your staff holds a key, and each key has hidden potential. In this innovative and rapidly changing world, we need this potential in order to be competitive. We need this potential in order to stay current. We need this potential in order to grow.
What makes you stand out? What makes your team stand out? Capitalize on what’s free and in front of you and watch your untapped potential flourish into success. Don’t be afraid to stand out, and watch your team and your company thrive when you do.
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