After my burnout in 2013, I spent months reflecting on why I had gotten to the point of burnout, brain fog and exhaustion and one of the things that became apparent was the integrity gap.
This gap was between my actions and my values, and I surprised by just how big this gap had become. It wasn’t an intentional gap, but one that had appeared over time, slowly chipping away inside of me until I couldn’t continue anymore.
I’d started my career in HR because I truly wanted to change the world of work. I wanted the world of work to be somewhere were people felt able to contribute positively, where they could thrive, be happy and stop the Monday to Friday dying syndrome that so many people I knew went through weekly experience.
The last eight years of my in-house career however hadn’t been about changing the world of work, but more about cost savings, holding people to account, working with toxic leadership and executive teams and pushing myself my to the limits as I tried to stay aligned to my values, doing the right thing, and fighting people who refused to put people first.
I vowed from that point on that I would never, ever, stray again from my true North. Never again would I do work, or work with people that caused me to have this integrity gap whereby my actions or words were not aligned to my values.
Over the last seven years I’ve been more committed to doing the right thing, for speaking up even if I want to stay quiet, for showing up even if I want to stay hidden, and for being true to my values each and every day.
Occasionally I go off track. I have outbursts, sometimes I say or do the wrong thing, allowing emotions to overcome me, but I quickly get myself back on track, after all I’m only human.
I keep a post-it note on my Mac, “Is There An Integrity Gap?” – this is my daily check-in. Do my thoughts, actions and interactions align to my values? And if not, where’s the gap?
The more HR and People Leaders that I speak to, the more I find myself asking this question, “where’s the gap?”, because I believe that stress, exhaustion, anger, frustration and burnout all appear when we have a gap between our values, our true North, and what we find ourselves doing, thinking, or saying. The quicker we can back in alignment, the more we find calm, focus, ease and energy.
I hear leaders talking about the importance of self-care whilst they are pushing and hustling 24/7.
I hear leaders talking about wellbeing whilst they are not sleeping, not exercising, not eating healthily and not stepping away from their screens all day.
I hear leaders talk about wanting to create People First places to work whilst at the same time never getting around to the ‘People’ aspects of their Board meetings and insisting that HR create policy after policy to use as shackles for the people in their companies.
I hear leaders talking about the fact that they want their people to be more creative and innovative, yet they haven’t created an environment where time to think, collaboration, learning and failing fast can occur.
Is there a gap for you? And if so how can you take one step today to close it?
She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.