Can you be 100% yourself AND a great leader?
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
To be blunt the answer is yes, to be more blunt the answer is hell-yes. The broader question is not if it's possible, it's how we make it happen. The cover photo here is me, no airs graces or make up. I'm on a moor, where I am very much at home. Can I be taken seriously as a leader from this picture? Well, that's what I want to explore.
Leadership and you.
One thing first, this is my version of leadership and very much based on my preference. Have a read and then consider what you best respond to and how you are perceived as a leader yourself.
When I look back at great leaders I've met, worked with and worked for, they all had one thing in common. They were irrefutably human. Flawed, imperfect, messy, natural humans. The other thing they had in common is that they knew this and embraced it.
On the flip side, the worst leaders I can recall were cocky, arrogant and inauthentic. It instilled an inherent distrust in me that lingers to this day.
So why is the latter so common in Leadership?
Parents, teachers, movies, babysitters, bosses, managers and grown ups in general? In my youth, this was how leaders were portrayed. This during a time when I was learning how adults behave in the world.
Psychiatrist, Eric Berne, asserted that "we are born perfect" and follows that life adds the imperfections later. From 6 - 16, my thoughts on leadership were heavily moulded by my parents, teachers, my first manager at the corner shop and late 80's to early 90's TV.
Of course, I was caught up in my own world and my critical thinking at that age was, frankly, crap.
That could well be the same for those managers I struggled to respect; does their leadership style reflect the influences in their upbringing? Most likely yes.
What was different about the great leaders? Somewhere along the line they
found the clarity. They recognised the earlier model was flawed and they chose their style.
They chose to be more real.
It's' scary though right?
Accepting yourself in all your glorious messiness isn't comfortable, it takes introspection, reflection, soul searching. More than that it takes guts. To strip down to the real authentic you is exposing, it makes us feel vulnerable.
Good. That's step one.
To then share this with others, especially those who look to you for the answers, is step two. Finding the balance of confidence to lead, and to inspire others to come with you, with being an authentically flawed human is tricky. Or is it?
Do we get in our own way here?
The key to this balance is your resilience. A teams confidence in you as a leader comes from your belief in your own and their ability to find a way through. The ability to recognise a challenge, ask for help, change tac or take a beat to reset or restart.
Resilience is not 'keep calm and carry on'. It's not blundering and bullshitting your way through hoping no-one can see how worried you are.
"Hey guys, this is going to be hard and I need your help. Together, I'm sure we've got this". What is so difficult about those words?
Trust in Trust.
What builds trust is that you're honest. You accept you will struggle but are sure you'll find a way through. Together. Accept the gaps in your own ability and celebrate the strengths in others. For a team that's inspiring, it builds trust, it empowers. Enables the team to feel valued and that you need their input to find the solutions, your faith in their ability to think is unwavering.
Interestingly I have tried replacing every mention of 'team' with 'family' and it still works. the sort of leader you are, parent, teacher, sports team lead, chairman, CEO, is irrelevant.
It's incredible what we can achieve when we stop chasing the credit.
Credit, where it's earned will come. It's a waste of energy to chase it or fight over it. Sometimes you're recognised, sometime you aren't. What's important is that you're sincere in your acknowledgement of others and they will reciprocate. One thing I've learned; more often than not, you get back what you put out.
When we can nail this, we are effective, we are valued and we are trusted leaders. .
Find your purpose, find your power, find your quirks, embrace it all to find yourself....and lead
Give me a shout when you want to make this the reality for you and your team.