Aug 4, 2008

Are you a Batman at Work

When I started out my HR career in 1999 my boss sent me to a process work lab called Role and Identity in Oganizations. It basically got people to start thinking about whether they want to be seen as a "manager" or a person - how you see yourself is essentially how you end up behaving. A kind of Pygmalion Effect on yourself.

Yes, roles are masks that we wear - and wearing different masks makes us feel conflicted and torn like Bruce Wayne in the Batman movies.

So I jumped for joy when I came across this article on Businessweek. Read it and ponder over it. And of course, it made me blog about Batman (my fave superhero) on my management blog :-)

Do You Hide Your Inner Bruce Wayne?
We all play different roles in our lives, and it's the rarest of people who can be the same person no matter what role he or she is in; to be fully authentic, all the time. We all feel pressure to put on a certain face, depending on the situation. We all wear masks some time, for we must. At what cost?

The mask is a boundary between the different parts of his life. Yet underneath it, there is but one man. We all need to draw boundaries among the different parts of our lives, of course. We have to find ways to shut work off, for example, in order to pay full attention to our families, and vice versa. But those boundaries can be too thick; the mask's costs can be too dear.

What Does the Mask Cost?

In the real world of work, we often feel as though we have to cut ourselves off completely from the other parts of our lives. But take a moment to consider:

• Is it really necessary to forsake what you hold most dear in your personal life in order to be the person you think you need to be in your life at work?

• To achieve important goals in your career, do you have to adopt a mysterious visage in order to be seen as powerful and effective, even if inauthentic?

• What masks do you wear? Is there a price for the invulnerability they seem to give you?

• What would it mean for you to reveal more of what lies beneath—what's to be gained or lost?