Smarter Than Everyone Else?
Have you ever felt like you’re “in your element”? When people can access the specialness and individuality in you and it resonates with them? You can feel the connection. It occurs when you are authentically you, speaking your truth, being open with people. With you as a role model and leader, it encourages people and makes it more comfortable for them to be more authentic, do more, be more.
When this happens you bring your whole self to your work, rather than the “should be, need to be, have to be” that plays in our minds from things we’ve seen or learned over the years. When you are in the “should be” position rather than the “be” position, you can command people but you can’t reach them. If you can’t reach them, you will not inspire them to reach for their potential.
I understand this because for many years I hid behind a wall of a “very important self”. Playing a role who was “supposed to be smarter than everybody else” I had invested the years necessary for this command post. Whether in charge of marketing, or in executive search consulting, I put on a persona of what I thought was expected by others. My creativity from many years of being an art student, my silliness and wit from years in high school and college which made people laugh, and the grace and compassion developed through childhood dance class and volunteer work with emotionally-challenged children and with physically and emotionally challenged seniors were downplayed from my professional self.
How to bring it back?
The first unpeeling took place when I started my own business. The difficulties of business development and rise and fall of my own income, allowed my humility to resurface. I was better able to view and appreciate other people’s difficulties because I was feeling mine.
Then, the ground truly shook when I learned the effect my persona was having on others, which I came face-to-face with magically in an in-depth leadership class. Learning from group members of all ages and backgrounds, what was missing from my interactions was “vulnerability and openness and the courage to exhibit these traits” was mind-altering; hearing and understanding what was standing in the way of my connecting with people was a game-changer. It could have been potentially devastating. Yet I used my courage and openness to truly hear it because I was ready to learn. How could I lead individuals toward growth, without learning and pushing myself to grow? Of course, the answer, I couldn’t.
Absorbing this lesson, pushed me toward greater growth. I proactively sought a coach I could work with who would thoughtfully encourage my whole self to reemerge. Then, working with this coach and seeing this whole self of mine play out in a mastermind group, my earlier gifts came back. The frighteningly “together” example of a coach/leadership consultant was replaced by a more human, connected, grounded, happy and fun coach/leadership consultant. My “work” became so much more delightful and fun. And I can’t tell you how beautiful it is to hear my clients laugh and see them breakthrough their obstacles while having fun.
In last week’s blog, “Laughter Can Lead to the Biggest Breakthroughs”, I mentioned rediscovering the upbeat, bubbly side of my personality. I encouraged you as a leader to use your fun side to get more from your work and team. If I didn’t go through this myself, I couldn’t encourage you to do the same, finding the gift in leadership, that complete person, which is within you.
Have you considered working on your leadership skills? And bringing more organization, balance and equity to your life and within your team? Or perhaps a direct report(s) needs finer tuning to be truly terrific but you don’t have the bandwidth or mindset to offer it? If you’d like to create a training and development plan for you or your direct report that offers increased productivity, more satisfied team members and increased retention, let’s talk. Contact me at Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com