“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

John F. Kennedy


Early in my career in Perth, I worked as a Chartered Accountant for one of those big consulting firms. This was back in the day when you couldn’t leave the building without your suit jacket on. You always wore a tie. And you never rolled your sleeves up. 

These were the unquestioned rules.

One day, a new manager transferred in from Leeds in the UK. His name was Kevin. Kevin was a great manager – one of the best I’ve ever had. And, he rolled his sleeves up when he worked.

Soon enough, I was rolling my sleeves up too. It felt rebellious, non-conformist, and a little exciting. I loved it. And guess what? I became more engaged in my work. I felt like I could be more ‘me’, and my work was better for it.

Making change happen means being and doing different. However research by Harvard’s Francesca Gino suggests that over half the people in organisations don’t actively question the status quo. And when they do, they engage more and innovate more.  If you want more innovation and engagement, give them permission to play their way. Leadership sets the tone. Be like Kevin. Dial up your rebel, just a little. Show others that it’s OK to be different by role modelling your inner rebel.

What’s your equivalent of rolling up your sleeves? How could you set the tone for making change happen in your world?



Photo: Digby Scott. Taken in the lobby of Flux Federation, Wellington, New Zealand.


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