Updated: Aug 13
If you don’t know the real person behind the leader, it is hard to follow them. This is something that I have been thinking about for the last few weeks. It is also something that has come up over and over again in my conversations with leaders. Let people see more of who you are. Be vulnerable. Be transparent. Be Authentic. Powerful words and concepts that can evoke nothing short of squirming right in our own chair (I've actually seen someone squirm when I mentioned these words).
What is it about sharing how we think, how we feel, and how we lead that is so uncomfortable? I can speak from my own experience. Take, for example, this blog. I know that sharing more about myself as a coach and as a consultant is critical to building relationships. But that means I have to open up. That means I need to let you see a little bit of me. It’s not exactly easy for me and here’s why:
Putting myself “out there” means that I cannot control what you think of me as a result (control is an illusion – I get it).
Letting you see what really matters to me, what I think is interesting, and how I feel about my work and my life means that I have to actually write it all down in a way that makes sense and is appealing to you. Writing is a discipline that I have to work at. It’s not necessarily something I yearn to do every day.
Trusting that all will be well when I push the “publish” button. I don’t need to keep changing words, keep making it perfect, or keep thinking about what I could say that could make it even better.
I hear such amazing, heartfelt stories when I coach leaders. Stories about why their work means so much to them. How much their team means to them. And the one question that I ask each and every time is this, “Have you told your team?” The resounding answer is “No.” We are afraid to share the good stuff – the real reasons why our work is so meaningful to us.
Maybe it’s the people you work with that make your job great. Maybe it’s the contribution that your organization makes to the community. Maybe it’s the work that you do to move products with efficiency or provide services that make people smile. Whatever the reasons, share them. Talk about the reasons you love your work with your team.
Leading means sharing about ourselves. People will follow if they know why we do what we do. Not just the fluff and the fancy words, but the real us. This is why I named one of my coaching programs “Get Real / Get Results.”
Next time you are talking with a colleague, team member, senior manager, or even a group of people, remember that they want to get to know you a little better, too. They will follow you when they know you and trust you. It’s scary business sometimes to be transparent, vulnerable, and authentic. But it will get you much farther in your life and in your work.
You are a gift. Share it.