Conformity is not a dirty word

July 7, 2019

In this world of “be your own person”, “find your voice and yell”, and “do the right thing, even if you are standing alone”, the idea of conformity has a negative connotation. Being a nonconformist is praised. Thinking outside the box is touted as the only way to achieve a creative solution to a problem.  I challenge that notion.

Conformity, in its purest state can create movements that can change the world.  Being able to work effectively as a team, in large numbers, can force power to bend. Being able to remain unique to your essence while being willing to compromise within the team is a key element to effectiveness.

True Leadership builds conformity/teamwork while valuing each team members individuality, life experience and unique approach to problem solving.

In my role as a leader, there are basic elements of leadership that I follow and I would like to open these up for discussion. The first basis element is a core understanding that I can accomplish nothing of value alone.  I am only as strong as the team I empower.

The second core understanding is that each team member holds a piece of the puzzle and all pieces are necessary (annoying sometimes, yes) but necessary to complete the picture.

The third and most important element is understanding that truth is always found somewhere in the middle of our differences.

I always insist that we operate on science backed factual evidence in as much as possible and that the subject is researched to the extent of its ability.  There is time for emotion and opinion but we must first find the facts and have a basis on which to agree.  What do we all know and agree to be true?  This is our foundation.

From there we must have an understanding of where we are going or what the solved problem will look like to the satisfaction of the team.

It is here that we must compromise, listen with an intent to understand, and have a respect for other’s life experiences which will be different from our own.  It is here that conformity begins.

This deep understanding that in order to be effective; in order to accomplish great things; in order to create something beautiful, we must come together with one inclusive voice.  This means we have to be willing to sacrifice our unique perspectives a little bit.  It means we have to make space to include those who often don’t have a voice.  It means we have to be willing to hear other life experiences and reconsider our opinions in light of new information.

Once we have established our foundation and our end destination when we can begin the process of building the solution.

A strong leader sits back and lets others work the problems out and through, stepping in only when necessary to keep peace, keep the conversation focused and keep things moving on track.  Once everyone on the team has had the chance to be heard, then the leader can create the synopsis of what was said, adding his or her voice to the mix.

Conformity and the ability to be a team player while still owning your own voice is a dance we must learn if we are going to be effective.  And in my life, being effective is everything.  But maybe that is just me.

What does conformity look like to you?