Are you hiding the real you from work?
Can you sing? Play the trumpet? Do you bake pies? Do you laugh with your full belly? Do you snort!? Do you paint watercolour or absolutely love to garden? Do you love hip hop or can you rap?
How many on your team know who you really are? Does anyone? Sadly many of us hide our full self from work, or worse….from our teams.
We so often buy into this notion that we have to fit a particular stereotype to be a successful leader - it is all business, all the time.
When I worked in corporate, there was an executive that wasn’t particularly liked. In fact we had many complaints about her behaviour in HR. She was an ice queen. She was ‘perfect’. She hit every deliverable out of the park, and then some. But man, she pushed her people hard!
Over what seemed a very short period, high performers started bailing from her team; none wanted to work with her anymore. She was cold, unfriendly and uncompromising.
Sadly she managed to make every executive admin cry (all 5 of them who worked with her over a two year span). She wasn’t open to feedback because you know, she was right all the time. A seriously tough cookie, and one who clearly wore a hard suit of iron and one very securely fit MASK!
As a business partner I could never crack through that very tough exterior. I was always on guard because she was usually spoiling for a fight. Anyone working for her was treated as an inferior. The only people who saw her slightly differently was her superiors, to them she was getting things done. It took awhile before they realized the damage that was being done.
Some years after she was gone from the company, I saw her again in the strangest place …..at a country fair!! Who knew…..she absolutely loved to bake pies! She was an award winner pie maker even!!
I was stunned, it couldn’t be the same person?? As I watched her sell pies I saw her absolutely glowing face, she laughed heartily and chatted kindly to a cadre of older ladies who admired her beautiful pies. She was in her element.
I was absolutely gobsmacked, this couldn’t be the same lady who was so unbending and cold? Yes! It was definitely her!
I couldn’t bring myself to say hi because I was so intrigued watching her.
How could this endearing, happy go lucky spirit be the same ice queen?? It completely altered my perspective!
Just imagine if she had let people in to this amazing side of her? How would her team have felt if she baked them one of her award winning pies for their birthday? Could she have made a real human connection? Could she have been less prickly? More relatable maybe?! I guess we will never really know.
What a terrible shame!
This is obviously an extreme case but the truth is many leaders hide because they think people won't see their level of authority if they were like everyone else. When in fact, the opposite is true.
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Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.
She posts some great articles on Linked In too!
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