Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Your individuality and situational fit

This week’s blog concludes our Individuality monologues: the tendency to match human beings to global-average metrics (at times entirely meaningless for the individual) has been challenged. You just want to be you, after all, that is what makes you happy and productive – not so?

Many of you have asked what you should do to have those that you work with and for, live with and for, and other acquaintances to accept your individuality. We deduce that you want to be true to your personality, but that you don’t have the freedom to attain that enviable position just as yet. There is a power dynamic here, with one side appearing to dictate the terms and you not knowing how to challenge such diktat. Right – in modern society, you only have to scratch on the surface before confronting the ever-present social enigma – human ‘power-dynamics’ and its drivers, visible and invisible. Power and its games eat one’s individuality for breakfast

It’s not surprising therefore, that we have been asked this week, and several times at that, if: (i) it’s right to impose your personal values and strengths on the family or employer, even where there is a clear lack of fit between the two sides (ii) you can change those that behave in ways that negate others and what they stand for, especially when they hold more power over you? In effect, you are asking if it’s your job to change other human beings or do what they want to be done even when they are not respectful of yours or other people’s likings. The latter is a complex societal matter and one without straight answers – right? (iii) Whether one should accept that they can’t work or share social space with certain individuals, institutions and to consider mitigation of some sorts. For example, from keeping a distance from such individuals or situations, all the way to the nuclear solution – separation. Put another way, calling it quits and leaving people on the opposite side to continue doing what they love, as you find yourself space and context where you are allowed to act like thyself

Now – the truth is that you don’t live in a blog world, where social theories and practices are articulated and debated, at times slightly devoid of reality. You live in the real world where matters aren’t always black and white: you have to put bread and butter on the table; you don’t always have personal choice over what to do to earn a living as firms aren’t lining up to employ you; there is a phenomenon called ‘unemployment’; and a number of factors are outside your control due to macro-economic and other political and social realities, etc. So, it appears sensible to apply a common sense/practical approach to the business of relationships with other folks, of course, grounded in the principles of individuality, articulated in our earlier blogs.

Sustainable individuality is a give and take by both parties that are facing off in a specific situation or environment. It’s always a two-party affair; them and us or you and him/her/it, that only serves both sides fairly (read:win-win) when certain conditions are met: i.e for you personally and the opposite side, an appreciation of what you/they are made out of (understanding thyself) – and the Effectiveness lab has harped on the latter in the 2019 blogs. This is as applicable to organizations as it’s humans. Once there is the understanding of self (not always easy), you/they embark on the challenging task of bringing the two parties together (a marriage of sorts), and establishing the rule-book for what is required to make the marriage work, accepting that both sides will exercise patience and allow the unfamiliar – and we call this ideal scenario situational fit.

Attaining situational fit requires: self-awareness, sacrifice, tolerance, patience, principled-approaches towards life and knowing plus accepting when it’s time to break the marriage and move on. We provide a specific example of situational-fit below.

And again, we run to the football world, and in this case the English premier league for an ideal example of situational-fit. The English premier league is an organizational eco-system that has been studied by management, finance and strategy gurus, including at ivy Universities like Harvard.

The current Chelsea FC boss Maurizio Sarri has been rated a failure by the pundits in English football management. Yet,… “AS Roma club in Italy has contacted Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri about becoming their new manager for next season, per Sky Sports.” Surely, Sarri can’t be that bad if other clubs are seeking his services even before his current marriage ends. It appears to us that Sarri’s only management crime is not being able to implement his philosophy at Chelsea so far, given the differences in style and personalities – and for this, he is close to getting the employer’s red card. It’s not that Sarri is a lousy manager, but his style and individual beliefs don’t fit Chelsea’s – there is no situational fit, and this will only end in a broken marriage. And the sooner they break up, the better for both parties

To answer those people asking how their individuality can be recognized and respected especially in instances where one side is more powerful than the other – we center our answer on the phenomenon of situational-fit; that it’s not about fighting or surrendering, but accepting that this has to be a give and take to work: discourse, and principled discourse at that, compromise and patience and knowing when it’s time to vote with your feet.

So – it appears like your individuality and the urge that it be respected by those around you, needs to always be put in proper context, but without letting go of individuality principles


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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