Athletic Cups and Neckties

When my son was younger and enrolled in team sports, the equipment list came back with the requirement for an athletic cup. After his surviving the indignity of having his mother buy it for him, the protests started.  "I don't want to wear it!  It's uncomfortable!"

One day, during a game, it became absolutely obvious to him why such a device was required when a misplaced kick connected with the cup.

He never complained again.

What does this have to do with neckties?  Glad you asked.

When I was younger and could grow hair, I did.  Down to my shoulders.  It matched my jeans, my van, my boots, and my t-shirts.  (I'm actually surprised my wife's mother would let me near the house at the time).  One of the vows I made to myself was that I would NEVER take a job where I had to get dressed up in a suit and tie.  "I don't want to wear it!" "It's uncomfortable!"...I would cry.   In my early career days, I wore jeans to work regularly, with khakis reserved for meetings.

Now scroll ahead a few years.

Here I sit as an IT leader, in what I think is the best IT job in Canada, if not the world.  I'm wearing a suit, AND and tie.  Why?  Because in the world I work in, this is standard attire for leadership.  I would be out of place without a tie.  I realize that if I worked for a technology company or in other work environments, I would look completely out of place wearing a suit and tie.  I wear it because it is culturally relevant, and when I approach the other executive and board with strategy, ideas, or requests for budget, I am wearing the team uniform.

I am part of them rather than an outsider.

It removes so many obstacles.

I meet many colleagues in IT leadership who complain that they don't have access to senior executives, and feel marginalized.  There is often a correlation between how they are treated, and how they dress for work.

Wearing a tie won't get you a seat at the table, but understanding the corporate culture and wearing the uniform may help in removing some of the barriers.  Look at what your team is wearing, and be part of the team.

BTW, the tie comes off as soon as I get home.


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