Updated: Nov 4, 2020
If you do not know the real person behind the leader, it is hard to follow him or her. This is something that I have been thinking about for the last few weeks. It is also something that has come up repeatedly in my conversations with leaders.
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. I need to let you see a little bit of me. It is not exactly easy for me and here’s why:
Putting myself “out there” means that I cannot control what you think of me (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 is 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.
Let people see more of who you are. Be vulnerable. Be transparent. Be Authentic. These are powerful words and concepts that can evoke nothing short of squirming right in our own chair (I have actually seen someone squirm when I mentioned these words).
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 the people you work with that make your job great. Maybe the contribution that your organization makes to the community is a big reason why you love working there. Maybe it is the work that you do to move products with efficiency, or to provide services that make people smile. Whatever the reasons, share them. Talk about why you love your work and why you love to lead.
A part of 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.
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 is 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.