Every company depends on the hard work of its employees, but not all companies talk about it in the same way. In some organizations, everyone makes a big deal about how hard they work. Leaders rush around looking harassed and boast about the long, grueling hours they put in. Every day is a fire drill with energy and chaos everywhere. I call these company cultures “shvitz” cultures. Shvitz is a Yiddish word that literally means “sweat” but is often used to mean strenuous, anxious effort. In other organizations, an atmosphere of calm prevails. Although these leaders are working just as hard as their colleagues in the shvitz companies, they act as if the job is really pretty easy and everything is under control. I call these company cultures “sprezzatura” cultures. Sprezzatura is an Italian word that means “the art of making things look easy.” It is easy to figure out whether your company is a shvitz or a sprezzatura company. The challenge lies in adapting your personal style to fit the company culture. If you are a cultural misfit, others may not appreciate the contribution you are making. A “shvitzer” in a sprezzatura company looks like a fool who can’t manage the workload with aplomb. Someone with sprezzatura in a shvitz company will be seen as a person who is coasting. So it makes sense to adapt. Remember, this is not about how hard you are working. If you are a conscientious leader, you are working very hard. It’s about how you present yourself and your effort – being sensitive to the organizational culture and adjusting your behavior accordingly. Which kind of company are you working in?

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