2 major ways female leaders fail ourselves — and how to stop
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Sometimes, it is the most obvious advice we fail to follow. After all, when we hear things over and over again, it can be difficult to listen with an open mind.
Yet, if we step back and reconsider advice that may seem trite as a tried-and-true fundamental, we can shift our perspective and start to focus on nailing the basics.
Here are two major ways leaders, particularly women leaders, tend to fail ourselves and how we can stop doing them.
To be or not to be?
"Be yourself" is advice that is so common you could walk into any home goods store and find it artistically penned on canvas. Yet, what does that mean and why is it so easy to ignore?
For one, it almost does not make sense. After all, who else can I be?
But that is the point, isn’t it? So many of us pretend to be something we are not; not just on social media but at work, too.
We feel compelled to excel, maintain our composure, and never make mistakes when our leadership role already acknowledges our acumen. Our team’s loyalty reflects our professionalism, and we unquestioningly support others through challenges.
But how do we stop living this double standard?
While it can seem silly, a great exercise to break these barriers quickly are self-assessments, and the sillier the self-assessment the better. For example, try taking a quiz like: "Who is your celebrity soulmate?" Or: "Who am I?"
All of them serve two purposes, first, they get us off our regular trains of thought. Second, they remind us of some parts of us with which we may have lost contact.
Doing that just once can spark a reminder of characteristics we may be shunning or hiding. Repeating it can help uncover trends in our approach that may be undermining our ability to be ourselves.
Another common issue we face that does not stop us from becoming leaders but definitely holds back our ability to enjoy our position is getting things for ourselves.
It is super-easy to justify fights, long hours, or sacrifices to get our teams what they need to succeed, yet we rarely do the same when our needs are on the line. As we all know, we must take care of ourselves to better take care of others.
To do so, we have to shift our perspective and realize that now that we are in charge, some things that may have seemed like extras before are actually necessities. As leaders we must realize we are taking on a lot of intangibles our teams are not, like accountability, responsibility, and problem-solving.
We have a different level of stress because we have more skin in the game than our teams thus we must recognize the needs that creates and address them for the sake of everyone’s success.
This may seem awkward at first, but the best way to get used to it is with practice. Start by asking for and getting something right now.
Whether it is a magazine subscription, a new iPad, or a day off, do it. Then, take advantage of it fully and reflect on the positive effects it has on your leadership.
Obvious advice is not bad advice. There is a reason it stays around: it can help. Take these simple steps today to be a more authentic and sustainable leader.
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