A few weeks ago, I published an article about managing culturally diverse teams. There, I shared my personal experience and commented on the challenges of leading such teams and aspiring to create a wholesome, nurturing environment that brings out the best in people.
I often mention that my exposure to an international environment during my travels and work abroad has changed me a great deal. It has inspired an immense appreciation for other cultures and for all of the value that diversity brings to a community.
In the teams that I have managed, I have made it a point to encourage people to be confident about expressing their personality and individuality. I have always wanted to create an environment of openness, appreciation and respect where one feels confident bringing their whole self to work.
Now it only makes sense for me to walk the walk and share how my cultural background and the exposure to diverse communities affect me as a person in an honest, open way as well.
Inspired by Mental Health First Aid England's 2023 campaign about encouraging people to bring their whole selves to work, I have opened up about my personal experiences in a professional setting in a LinkedIn post. Now, I would like to elaborate even firther.
Today, I share with you:
1. Something that reveals my identity
There are many things that show my identity and my background. My accent is probably the first thing that allows you to spot where I’m from. I have never tried to change it, for one because I would have never succeeded. It is a strong accent, I am aware of that, and I also love it when I hear others speak in strong accents from around the world. It is like a business card that tells you immediately where someone is from.
2. Something that makes me vulnerable
There are many things that make me feel vulnerable too. To mention one, it has always been hard for me to see people suffer when there is nothing I can do to help.
People are happy when they are surrounded by other happy people, of course. But I feel a sense of inutility if that happens, and that makes me vulnerable.
3. Something that has changed for me because of international exposure
Many, many things. For instance, thanks to my exposure to international environments, I have learnt how important (and fulfilling) it is not to judge by appearances. When you only see what is very similar to you, you tend to be scared of what is different and it is too easy to start judging it. But when you get exposed to many other cultures, you really understand that everything needs to be contextualised.
4. Something I have overcome
My fear of speaking in my non-native language in public. It took me a while to overcome this when I relocated to the UK. This was a matter of self-confidence, of course. Removing that psychological blocker felt like a huge achievement that allowed me to genuinely connect with people from around the world.
Being able to bring your whole self to work
Being able to bring your true self to work is no longer a perk. It is rather a key aspect of a company’s culture and I would never compromise, having come to terms with the way my personal cultural background has helped shape my professional path.
Now that I have shared some of the aspects in which my life abroad has changed me, I can encourage you to reflect on how diversity contributes to building a strong team. If you could use some inspiration, take a look at the blog post where I discuss the experience of managing culturally diverse teams. I also offer some tips to handle some of the challenges that I have personally faced.