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Island Style Careers - Non Conformist in the Workplace - A survival guide

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When you're interviewed for a new position, many times your interviewer will ask:

Are you a team player?

Most interviewees will say: "YES, I work well with others. I'm a great team player."

This sounds great - in theory, but it seldom is the truth, and is, to be brutally honest- difficult to put into practice.

I'm terrible at teamwork - because I have never been comfortable with the habit of group-think. You know "group-think" right? It is every business' nightmare, but more often than not when groups are formed, most people seek to conform simply to get a consensus and go with whatever the majority wants. This is precisely where being critical comes in. If you are skeptical, in a completely healthy way, of course- you are more likely to stick to your opinions and raise a dissenting view. Even if in the end your opinion is not adopted by the majority- it is always advisable to have a voice.

"if you have no critics, you'll likely have no success" Malcolm X

Be prepared to not be very popular with your colleagues. Everyone loves the idea of going along to get along. Every year I make a resolution to learn to go with the flow more - I'm just inherently hard headed I guess! If I lived in medieval times I would be the town crier! I really think it's everyone's responsibility to have a voice and to air it. Group think stifles creative and new ideas in favor of maintenance of a status quo and carrying along on a path of least resistance.This has been responsible for the demise of many businesses where they missed opportunities or made costly mistakes because they did not encourage individual thought and encourage new fledgling ideas to come to the forefront.

Can anyone remember when Polaroid ruled the photography industry? How about when Facebook missed the opportunity to partner with the creator of Instagram - and ended up having to buy his hugely popular app for millions a short time later! There must have been someone in one of those closed door meetings that wanted to say "digital is the future" or "listen to that guy". Who knows? It may have happened, and the majority still opted to ignore that viewpoint. Needless to say, there won't be another meeting where a dissenting or unpopular view is not at least carefully considered in either those companies again. 

Lesson learned!

I never feel bad about my personal motto "Question everything". It has served me well and put me in the position to learn from, and share with, individuals I greatly admire.

So the next time you're in an interview and you're asked whether you're a great team player, say yes.... but secretly, mean no.

 

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