I was listening to the Harvard Business Ideacast Know your Power Persona on the way to the office on Monday which centers on the impact that our family life has on who we are today (good and bad). The podcast featured Maggie Craddock who wrote the book Power Genes: Understanding Your Power Persona–and How to Wield It at Work. From their website:

We’ve all joked about it: the domineering father figure as top manager, the boisterous elder brother type as heir apparent, the caring mother hen on the executive team. But that leaves the rest of us in the workplace as a gaggle of siblings battling for recognition, resources, and rewards from our "parents". Next thing you know, we’re doing exactly what we did when we were kids to get what we need at work–trying too hard to please, acting out, brownnosing. Yet these responses aren’t productive in the workplace. In "Power Genes", executive coach Maggie Craddock reveals how to kick those old habits and use your power more effectively to advance your career. Craddock identifies four "power types"–Pleaser, Charmer, Commander, Inspirer–and explains how to diagnose your type. Next she walks you through a process for avoiding your type’s signature destructive reflexes and replacing them with new behaviours. She also shows how to interact productively with other people–peers, bosses, employees–of each type. "Power Genes" helps you jettison unproductive habits and take charge of your workplace relationships.

It is a good 12 minute listen, and made me reflect on a realization that I had a few years ago – my childhood still impacts who I am in ways that I have just come to understand. I came to that understanding through the book Overcoming Your Strengths’. I referred to it here in a different context. Lois Frankel made a very interesting point on tough childhoods midway through the book (pg. 132):

Ironically, those who are unable to be humble are often raised as children in households so withholding of praise and affirmation that the child must call attention to himself or herself or otherwise fade into oblivion. The behaviours that we learned to survive difficult childhoods later become the cause of derailment.

I was pretty fortunate, I lived in a good home, was never concerned about whether or not I was loved, was imbued with a strong Dutch work ethic and ‘never give up’ attitude and surrounded by a very rigid – black and white view of the world (which I railed against). But they made me who I am – good and bad.

Once again, I was reminded just how important the parent’s role is. The impact is profound.

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