Are You Wearing a Mask?

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Are You Wearing a Mask?

 “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”

                                                                       Source: Sheryl Sandberg

The late Franciscan author Brennan Manning said that if you are serious about leadership authenticity, you must take off your mask. Leaders who are defined by personal accolades typically miss the mark. The leaders who are truly transformational are relational, transparent, and connect on a heart level. Are you vulnerable and courageous enough to truly share from the heart?  

None of us like perfect people. In fact, perfect people typically aren’t great leaders. As the adage goes, “never trust someone without a limp.” We want to experience others’ humanity and understand their story. Wabi-sabi or “perfection in imperfection” is what influences others. Are you comfortable taking off your mask?

My leadership philosophy was birthed in a home that struggled with my father’s alcohol abuse. That, coupled with a slight stutter growing up and a massive fear of public speaking helped me empathize with others who are trapped by their past. For years I was ashamed of these weaknesses, never recognizing that these flaws gave me power once overcome. Learning to overcome these challenges now informs my coaching philosophy.

There are many benefits to leadership vulnerability, but the biggest benefit is that it encourages others to be more transparent, even during the most uncomfortable moments. When people experience candor in their supervisor, they’re more likely to drop their guard and share the truth about how they are feeling and performing in the workplace. Brené Brown sums it up perfectly, “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

It has been estimated that almost 3 of 4 people suffer from the “Imposter Syndrome” at some point in their lives, that internal belief that one day we will be discovered as inadequate, incompetent, and a fraud. They are weighed down by self-doubt or perfectionism and fear looking inferior in the eyes of others. The Imposter Syndrome is deeply rooted in insecurity. When we don’t feel genuinely confident, we fall into bad behaviors. These fraudulent feelings occur in even the highest achievers.  

The most confident leaders are humble and have made peace with the imposter. I have noticed five behaviors that the healthiest leaders exhibit.

  1. They are comfortable listening and don’t have the need to always be the center of attention.
  2. They don’t need ongoing praise because their personal achievements internally fuel them.
  3. They conduct courageous conversations and don’t become defensive when others oppose them.
  4. They are comfortable with ambiguity and not threatened by others’ opposing views. 
  5. They are curious about what they don’t understand, open to changing minds and admitting mistakes. 

Are you falling into bad habits or is the imposter taking you away from bigger personal accomplishments? What’s your process for tapping into your very best on a consistent basis, and who is your trusted coach? 

Therapists believe that when people hide their insecurities, relationships and self-esteem are damaged. Embracing transparency gives one power. When we hide our feelings, worrying what others may think, we block deeper communication with others.

Sharing your concerns with a coach can help you embrace the imposter, build self-confidence, and reduce internal anxiety.

The most impactful leaders I have ever experienced are transparent; connecting heart and soul with their team. 

Are you comfortable taking off the mask?

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