How can I authentically talk about myself in a professional context?

by Didier Marlier on Friday March 6th, 2015

We have been invited with our partners of StratX, to run an ambitious development program for the top 500 of a large multinational. StratX are specialized in developing Strategic Marketing skills by their clients. One of their simulations is used by 90 of the top 100 MBA’s in the world. When we join them in a program, we observe the impact of behaviours on the quality of the strategic decisions made by the participants and their team in the simulation and provide them with feedback. The StratX team runs the simulation and teaches Marketing and Strategy.

The CEO had asked us to check something out: Since 100 teams of 5 people would go through the development program, he wanted to run an experiment: “Let half of the teams get on with their work and do not interfere. With the 50 others, invest 30’ of their time, during the first decision round, to invite them to present themselves in an intimacy conducive way”.

At the end of the program, the results were interesting: out of the 50 teams that had invested 30’ (on a whole week program) on building an emotional connection amongst their members at the start, 48 ended up at the top of the list… Ensuring that people provide to others the keys to understand them is important in speeding up the formation of an efficient, diverse and performing team.

So when my team and I decided, a few weeks ago, to rewrite our  bios, Michael Newman challenged us in providing something that would better explain who we are and which events of our lives made us the people we had become. I was impressed to read his one page document. I thought I knew Michael and discovered in fact things that helped me better understand who he is, why he acts/reacts the way he does and what matters to him.

Deeply challenged and moved by his description, I started to work on mine… How to write a one pager which explains who I am, what made me the person I am and what really matters to me, my Deep Intent? From it emerged a very enriching exercise which I invite you to run for yourself and maybe with your team:

  • Step I introduce clearly the purpose: It is about obtaining clarity of what drives us, of what profoundly marked us in life and made us who we are. Remember last week’s blog post, drawing a parallel between Gary Hamel organizational coaching and our practice of executive coaching: “Develop a deeper sense of self, one that frees a company to do something that it would not have conceived of doing before”. It is only by being clear about our deeper self that we will liberate, fearlessly, our creative energies.
  • Step II draw your “lifeline”: It is a simple exercise I once was asked to do in a sort of NLP training. Time is on the horizontal axis and emotional impact (positive or negative) is on the vertical. Draw the line of emotions as you replay the movie of your own life… Here is, as an example, the one I drew on the spot when doing the exercise. Of course it is far from complete, of course many important moments have been forgotten at the moment I was drawing this. Of course I shouldn’t be showing this publicly… Its only purpose is to be illustrative.

Lifeline DM

  • Step III analyze your lifeline and see how much it may explain from you. Write something that helps others to have access to you.

Here is my new bio. I believe it is more helpful in describing to you who I am, than what I had produced before. I’d be curious to know from those of you who never met me and kindly follow this blog, if that helps them construct a clearer and more helpful picture of me.

Bio Didier Marlier 2015 Deep Intent

In order to move people from intention to action, leaders need to work at the rational/Logos level and at the emotional/Pathos one as well. Preparing yourself through such an exercise will help you connect and engage with your team, at the much needed emotional level.

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6 Responses to “How can I authentically talk about myself in a professional context?”

  1. Dear Didier
    You have brought an important theme specially when world is questioning several beliefs which guided us in last century looking the new challenges of survival and sustainability for today on.
    I do believe there are different set of values and motivations from person to person no matter the value is correct or not. Some looking for short and material gains others long run wealth ,some more connected to spiritual values ,some focused on scientific knowledge. Deep Intent maybe focused in different dimension . The mid long development of one society ,community or corporation tend to be solid when leadership is driven to mid long run, spiritual and knowledge values and on drill down of such a project values and peoples should be allocated in cascade mode. When this pyramid is inverted ,what usually happens in last decades several disturbs occurred as its consequence . Evaluate all based on Short term quarter basis financial KPIs or market shares values suffering daily speculation is the mistake civilization is insisted on.

    Reply
    • Thank you once again Herberto, for your comment. I find the mid/long term vs short alignment of the leaders and their organization, extremely relevant and interesting! This makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you! Have a good day!

      Reply
  2. Dear Didier,

    Thanks for this insightful and different blog.

    We do know each other since a number of years but perhaps we don’t really know each other very very well, although perhaps I do know what you have done in your life in terms of career and education as you have been my professor.
    What I do find very different and refreshing about you new bio is that it clearly shows the deep intent of you as a person. Rather than just a mere listing of events and achievements, this gives much more insight into who you really are as a human being, what drives you in this world and what made you ‘drive’ so to speak. Which events ‘formed’ you and it shows a strong degree of humbleness and vulnerability.
    A bio such as this focusses on the human being behind all the achievements, and isn’t that in the end what we are all after, connections with human beings, identifying ourselves with people who are – not at all or very – likeminded?

    Great work.

    Take care.

    All the best,

    Ivo

    Reply
    • Thank you for this very helpful feedback Ivo. I find your opinion and reading really interesting since, as you mention, our history goes a long way. But this way of describing oneself tries to be different and more authentic. I am happy that you still discovered things about myself. I hope you will enjoy doing the exercise for yourself.
      Have a good week!

      Reply
  3. Dear Didier,

    Great article. It inspired me in a moment of ongoing transition in my organization. I may apply such technique in a change management process that I’m planning to initiate.

    Best regards from Brazil (just arriving from your home country Belgium!)

    Willi

    Reply
    • Thank you Willi,
      No doubts that, with your amazing style, blending the rigour and integrity of an NTJ and your skill for working at the Pathos/engagement level, you will succeed. Always there if you wish to share ideas and thoughts. Abraço de um Belga Brasileiro!

      Reply

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