Question: I feel as if I’m a different person at work than in the rest of my life. Is that bad?

Maybe, maybe not. Here are some questions to consider:

• How, if at all, does it get in your way?

• What do your team, peers, friends at work say that about it?

• Where does your data come from?

People who work hard to keep a portion of their lives separate from work may do so at a cost to themselves. It takes a lot of energy to restrain ‘who you are’ and limit the parts of you that you expose to others. Additionally, others often sense that and can feel uncomfortable at times with what seems like a distance between you and them. I have a client working on this now. An example is a very likable guy got promoted to lead a team he used to be a peer on and he feels like he wants to maintain a certain type of relationship with his now direct reports. He keeps personal information from them. They don’t really know anything about him outside of work. He tells me he’s unsure why he keeps so much close to the vest, and what we’ve been exploring is the amount of energy it takes to do that. We may not realize the personal costs associated with being a certain way at work and a different way at home. It may serve us to ask why. What is our fear if we share ourselves?

If you look at what people are asking from their leaders, one of the key things is authenticity. So you may want to evaluate how much of yourself you bring to work. The risk of only showing parts of you is that people sometimes sense leaders are putting on a false front that doesn’t feel real. Do you have a genuine interest in knowing about the whole person you work with, or are you more comfortable maintaining a professional relationship and keeping your personal life your own and not knowing as much about the people you’re surrounded by?

If you are a person who genuinely enjoys knowing people beyond the work environment and spends time doing just that, then you’re likely seeing the benefits that those personal relationships get you. People will always do more, go further, and support people they feel some connection to. I often say, the more I know you, the more likely I am to do you a favor, take your call when I’m busy or go above and beyond to help you.

I had a conversation with a client who interviewed for a big job. Someone in a very senior role within the firm, who she wouldn’t be reporting to, was a part of the interview team. When they met, he said he had little interest in hearing about her competency or experience. Others would ferret that out. He wanted to know who she was, what she was passionate about, what makes her happy. She was inspired by that conversation. She took the role and shared with me part of her decision was impacted by wanting to be around someone like that, someone so genuinely interested in her as a person. She said she thought she could learn a lot from him. That’s powerful.

Author's Bio: 

Saara Robles, Executive Leadership Consultant and Coach has honed her talent to sense what's true, what's important and how to help others come to understand that for themselves. Saara invites you to connect with her on Facebook and share resources that have been helpful to you. Women at the Watercooler Facebook Page