You are becoming more like your boss every day

July 2020

Have you noticed how you adopt certain phrases that your friends use? Your wardrobe changes based on the company you keep (mine will be reverting to onesies and fairy dresses soon). Some people even start looking like their spouses after many years of marriage. It’s human nature. The abused becomes the abuser. Kind children mirror kind parents. Why would work relationships be any different?

I will always be grateful for my first years of work as a business analyst at McKinsey. That time shaped my outlook on work, my approach to problem-solving and my relational focus. Much of it came from training and experience, but the bulk of it came from exposure to great thought and people leaders (most of the time).

Fast forward several years and I have changed from being an ambitious, globetrotting management consultant to a mostly home-bound mom of three, with a husband studying full time and running my own business. I bake bread, make my own cosmetics and my children are in a Montessori school. Is there something in the water in Cape Town (when we have it) or could this be from hanging around alternative moms?

A study on the breadth of social influence conducted by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler found that having happy friends, makes you happier. However, they also found that it doesn’t stop there – if your friend of a friend of a friend is happy with their life, then you have a 6% greater likelihood of being happier yourself. Your relationships really are your future.

Consider the people you spend time with at the office every day. Are your team’s values, culture (simply put: how they do things), behaviour, treatment of others and dress sense (just kidding) aligned to yours? Do they have hearts like yours? Robbie Williams sings in a song called I love my life, “Find the others with hearts like yours. Run far, run free”. Find the others; not despite the others.

A Gallup poll found that 75% of people who left their jobs voluntarily, did so because of their bosses. What if your manager leaves much to be desired? What if this article makes you really uncomfortable? Run – maybe not today or tomorrow (and definitely remind yourself that wherever you go, there you are), but run. Surrounding yourself with the right people at work is that important.

Esther Perel, a famous Belgian psychotherapist, says “The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life”. This applies to work and home, which are currently more blended than ever before. Be discerning and intentional about who you allow into your space – they are your future.