"You get the best out of others when you get the best out of yourself." ~Harvey S. Firestone
“Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.” ~Stephen Covey
We face a lot of stresses in our day to day activities as a leader. We have pressure from the boss, from the customers, and from our teams. There are deadlines, there are problems, and there are demands. And that is all fine, it’s part of the job and it’s what we all signed up for. For most of us, the challenges give us an enormous sense of accomplishment andfulfillment. If everything went well, we wouldn’t be nearly as satisfied. Where I see us piling unnecessary stress onto ourselves is when we try to be someone we’re not. Somebody who has different skills, who has a different personality, and who represents some ideal we have of leadership that is based in books and not reality.
The quote above from Stephen Covey is one of my favorites to keep in mind because it goes on to talk about how all of our internal conflicts arise when we don’t align our actions with our vision and values. I sincerely believe that when we aren’t being ourselves we are creating conflict and stress for ourselves. How exactly?
Kills Genuineness – When we try to be someone we’re not, whether that be a “superhero” who knows and can do anything or a person who “fits in” with the rest of their peers, we are never as good at playing the role as we think we are. Our team and our leaders will notice that something is a little “off” and won’t as easily buy in to what you are saying/doing. This makes us work harder, reach further, and creates our own sense of uneasiness as we see we aren’t who WE think we should be.
Reduces productivity - Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has a role to play. If you are trying to do everything because you think you should be an expert in everything then you are selling your productivity WAY short and causing yourself more stress than necessary. Players on a sports team rarely can play all position, and what’s more, players almost always have some weaknesses in the skillsets for their position. What does a sports team do? They work on the weakness, but focus the player’s efforts on their strength and have the team support their weaknesses. If you aren’t doing this in your role as a leader, then you are unnecessarily handicapping productivity while you struggle with weaknesses you are pretending are strengths and stress out to meet your own expectation.
The key to dealing with this phenomenon is to get to the truth of the matter in all things. One of the reasons that “trust” is such a key to great teams is that it allows people to deal with the true nature of things in the organization in a helpful and non-judgmental way, which is the most effective way to move everything forward. To help with that there are two things to keep in mind:
Remember where you came from – You were CHOSEN for this role by your boss. You have a background of success. They already know that you have what it takes or they wouldn’t have chosen you for the role.
Be confident in who you are – What contribution to the organization are you making? My guess is that you are making a fantastic contribution right now. Stop focusing on how much more you COULD do, and focus on how much you ARE doing. Yes, there are areas of improvement (there always are), but be confident that you are doing great.
So stop pretending to be something you aren’t. This week I want you to write down all of the successes you have had in the last three months. Get creative with this as it might be a little tough to begin with (not because you haven’t been successful, but because we usually don’t focus on these things). After this, write down the names and people who needed to approve your hiring. This exercise will hopefully give you the confidence to be yourself, to ask others for assistance when needed, and reduce your stress at work.
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