Leadership is a front-and-center job. It’s hard to hide, and if you have chosen leadership, why would you even want to be in the background? Yet, there are times we all need a break and even then, even when you are on holiday, you know you are still being judged, worshipped, detested, quoted, ridiculed, respected, and second-guessed. It’s the nature of the position.
Take a few minutes and think back to when your career as a leader started. It certainly began long before you accepted your present position. It may have been when you ran for a class office in junior high, or became the captain of a sports team in high school. Think about what you learned at that juncture about playing to the crowd, perhaps, even the local media, and what it means to maintain authenticity.
Now, look at the mantle of leadership and how well it fits you. Do you find it too loose, too tight or just right? Some of us have to let the seams out and become more forceful, own more of the package. Others need to rein in their authority or are seen as that awful woman in “The Devil Wears Prada”. I don’t really know of any present-day leader of a large company, an entrepreneur endeavor, a project manager, a school official, a government agency head, who tells me they have it “just right”.
It seems all women leaders are searching for the balance between public persona and private person. There are so many expectations about who a leader is – who you are; what a leader should say – what you communicate; how a leader looks – how you dress. Think about the demands and how you feel about the burdens of performing and meeting the expectations set upon you.
Where does the word “authentic” fit into your inner dialogue? From all of my coaching clients, I am aware (as well as in my own inner conversations) that there is a continuous struggle between being someone the world wants and what you know is the right fit for you. It is a constant battle – kind of like that extra ten pounds that are always either obvious or hidden in the background ready to disrupt.
There is an excellent article on Oprah.com, written by Mike Robbins, about the need for recognition and the craving for fame, that has some great insights. Now, I am not suggesting that as a women leader your driving force is to be famous. I am saying that being noticed and critiqued comes with the territory. It is a relationship with employees, customers, community, and often, stakeholders.
Our relationship with positional power is directly related to our sense of personal power.
This is a season of reflection, so take some time to look at the patterns of behavior, the relationship world, that has shaped your ability to be authentic, stand firm and not succumb to the demands of colleagues, community, or critics and be true to yourself. Not an easy task to find the way OUT of old behaviors into new, more effective true-to-yourself reactions. Not easy to go from “too this” or “too that” to “just right”.
Take time to Observe, Understand and then Transform behaviors that are blocking the route to authenticity. One gift I would like to give you is the opportunity to take the pattern aware quiz at www.sylvialafair.com and then have some phone time to assess the results.
The best gift we can give ourselves going into the new decade is the gift of deep diving into our own authenticity and how our presence impacts those we lead.