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Letter from a reader of EE:
I recently joined a next stage-organization and was asked to create a bio for their team page. All the bios sound so achievement-oriented, so flat and corporate. Whenever I sit down to write it, my gut tightens. I wonder if I really want to work here. What do you suggest?
∼Wincing in Seattle
Reply from Edith:
Great self-awareness! Listen to the dissonance within you. At the same time, try not to become jaded. Your organization may be next-stage in how it operates, but it may not know how to walk its talk in its team profile page. Being Teal in some ways does not mean people automatically know what it means in other ways.
Because you are new, you are in an ideal position to begin the conversation and to help your organization become more congruent. You still have fresh eyes; you are not entrenched yet. Remember in a next-stage organization, leadership and change can come from any corner.
First, point to the incongruity between how your organization operates and the how its team page sounds. This matters because incongruity invites distrust.
Then, show a way forward. Why not suggest that all team members re-write their bios? You might even want to take the lead on this project. You can begin by writing your own bio in a way that feels and sounds Teal. Here’s what I suggest.
Take a few moments to connect with the deepest, lightest, or most expansive dimension of yourself. Reflect on your purpose and how it dovetails with the evolutionary purpose of your organization.
Next, sense the big picture and its moving parts. Your whole self—mind, heart, and soul. Your reader as a whole person. Your organization and the ecosystem in which it operates. The medium, likely a website, on which your bio will appear. Trust that your self-management skills will help you balance these moving parts.
Now, begin to write. Use a conversational tone and a relational manner. It helps to imagine someone you’ve just met asking you questions. What do you love about your work? Why is your organization a good fit for you? How does your purpose dovetail with the evolutionary purpose of your organization? Write in the first-person. And let yourself come alive.
As you write, weave in your background and credentials to inspire your reader’s confidence in you. Include your area of expertise as well as the gifts you bring. Show the value you create in your organization and, by implication, to its stakeholders.
Most organization’s websites have strict formatting rules. There is no room for a rogue format. So, make the format work for you. Get creative inside it. Give your bio your own unique flavor, your own creative twist.
Let your reader hear your voice and feel your aliveness.
If your organization is geographically diverse, include something about the place you live, work and play.
Write your first draft in one fast, messy go. Then go back and finesse it until it sings. Get some feedback, and incorporate only what resonates with you. Your bio needs to reflect you and feel right for you. At the same time, the whole team page needs to hang together.
If you want to see some good examples that were written using this process, check out the refurbished bios our EE website’s team page. Just go to the About menu.
Once you’ve written your sparkling and authentic Teal-coloured bio, you’re ready to begin the conversation with your team-mates. So go for it, wince no more! And let me know what happens.
Edith Friesen energizes the role of Writing Mentor at Enlivening Edge. As a lifelong writer, she has worked in diverse organizations and coached writers. Her passion is to inspire writing that drops the mask and comes from the whole self.