Conformity is the extent to which you gain a sense of safety and self worth by complying with what other people want or expect – instead of taking action based on what you want for your life.
When I was young, many of my life choices were conformity driven.
I had a desire to please people like my parents and others senior to me. I remember when I was applying to colleges hearing my parents say, “If you study accounting, you can do anything in business.”
And so, I went on to college and studied accounting.
And I suffered through every step of the process.
When people conform, they are left with circumstances that are not satisfying, enjoyable or aligned with their inner goals and priorities.
Courage, the Opposite of Conformity
Courage, on the other hand, is the opposite of conformity. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Conformity is about giving up your personal power. It’s the inability or unwillingness to challenge others and the status quo.
Courage is about embracing your personal power. It is the ability to stare fear in the face and move forward.
Conformity. Courage. What They Look Like on a Team:
When people conform to a situation, there is a noticeable amount of misalignment on a team caused by:
- A lack of constructive debate
- Mediocrity as a result of not challenging the way things are done
- Fear of risk taking
- Drama, politics and turf wars as team members avoid the conversations that are needed most
On the other hand, when people have courage on a team they:
- Remain open to hear what other people have to say, especially when their viewpoint is different.
- Maintain the agility to rethink a perspective or situation and move toward better outcomes – even if decisions have already been made.
- Ask for cross-functional help when complexity arises
- Make decisions in the face of conflicting information
How do you create an environment that encourages courageous behaviors? You need 3 essential ingredients to make it work. Stay tuned – we’ll explore what those are in our next post…