So who are you going to be today? In my quest to capture success there have been many an instance where I've found myself putting on airs so that I exhibit certain qualities or attributes that I think the person on the receiving end of my personality may be more comfortable or impressed with. I was determined to show people how outgoing, talkative or high energy I could be. Why? Because people really buy into that stuff. People in general, have a tendency to think that these characteristics are some of the strongest indications of ones ability to lead. The trouble is these traits aren't second nature to me. I'm chill – mellow – easygoing. I don't bounce off the walls I lean on them with dark shades on, a la The Fonz from Happy Days. I don't raise my voice to get my point across. I don't interrupt others to assert my dominance and thus prove my leadership. I don't blurt out ideas without taking at least a few seconds to think them through. That's just not how I roll.
I used to spend far too much time concerning myself with how I would standout from or compete with these people who exhibited these in-your-face implications of leadership potential. The funny thing is, even though I feel like I don't naturally exude everything I thought I needed to command attention, I've come to learn that when I speak people listen. People have no problem taking direction from me or trusting my judgment. I realized that I had my own set of characteristics that implied leadership potential. They may not be in your face but they are plain-as-day visible for anyone who is at least somewhat receptive.
I made a decision to shine the way I shine and let others shine the way they shine. I am at my strongest when I'm holding true to what makes me unique. There is no one way to lead. There is no one way to be successful. There is no one personality that is fully harmonious with all other personalities. So even though it may sound cliché, I would say put away the mask and just be yourself. Really, just be yourself. The key is to know your strong suits and lead with those.
Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.
I was watching a Ted Talk not too long ago entitled The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get by Susan Colantuono. The Talk, which was targeted to a female audience, focused on building a reputation where you are known for your leadership skills. What Susan meant by “leadership skills” wasn’t the common notion of leading a project, delegating responsibility or decision-making. Leadership skills, as she defined them are determined by results. Oh, so you have great leadership skills do you? How good are you at achieving and sustaining extraordinary outcomes? This isn’t just about looking like you’re working really hard or doing a seemingly great job. It’s about being able to share the numbers that prove it.
Though this isn’t a foreign concept (many of the career development materials I’ve read advocate tooting your own horn to some degree), it’s still not a very popular idea to most women. What men get that women often don’t is how important it is to show off your business, strategic and financial acumen. For a business leader your personal greatness and ability to engage your reports is great but what does that mean in terms of the bottom line to my business.
I once Googled one of my bosses. Actually, he was my boss’s, boss’s boss. I stumbled on a panel he sat on with another gentleman and two other women, all from notable organizations. Right off the bat I noticed a distinct difference in the way the two men presented themselves. The women were sort of closed in while the men took up space. The men called attention to themselves with their disposition and gestures and made sure to call out their numbers. When asked to introduce themselves, they proudly informed the audience of recent business successes and what that meant to their respective companies in dollars and cents, when clearly no one had asked them, but this is the disposition of what we recognize as great leaders in business. If you’re doing great work and achieving extraordinary outcomes, people need to know about it. Go ahead and give out your numbers girls. Don’t be shy. It doesn’t mean you’re fast, pretentious or self-absorbed. It just means you’re a great leader who can prove it.
To view Susan Colantuono’s Ted Talk click here.
Thank you for reading. Now… "Let the power moves continue."