From Fast Company, Lydia Dishman discusses the question about whether it is better to fit in or stick out if you want to get ahead. I’m reminded of Jeffrey Pfeffer’s observation of that quote “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down” was not good career advice. Lydia shares new research that seems to modify that somewhat. While sticking out still seems to be the best approach, having a network is an important part of being successful. Lydia writes:
Those most likely to succeed were the assimilated brokers and the integrated nonconformists, suggesting that the tightly knit networks helped those who went against the company culture grain as well as those who conformed to it. In particular, the assimilated brokers were able to get ahead because they were able to understand and fit into the culture and could move between different groups in the company with ease.
The takeaway is clear: Fitting in isn’t always a way to get ahead, but it’s necessary to be able to in order to work effectively with different teams across the entire organization. The key is learning to find a way to do both.