Recently, a direct report confronted me on items pertaining to my leadership since the beginning of the year. Ending 2018 with a 360 review of myself, and sort of the same thing for the company in general, I began 2019 with increased intensity.
“You are not being yourself,” this person said. They went on to say that while they appreciated me holding others more accountable, at times I was being too stern. “You’re being too much like me,” they went on. “Stop trying to please others, even family members, and just be your natural self. Be encouraging, complimentary, and continue to hold people accountable, just in a gentler way than I do.”
I thanked this person for having the courage to give me this feedback. What a blessing! I also love that our sales team is experienced and talented. Some of them have led companies before, so I probably learn more from them than the other way around. And this example is another one of those occurrences.
In digesting this feedback, I realized that this individual was 100 percent correct in their analysis. While ramping up the accountability was a good addition to my leadership repertoire, I was doing it in a way that was unnatural. In essence, I was “over-correcting” my weakness by trying to be somebody I am not. I’m better at building coalitions, encouraging team members, and leading with positivity than I am being the hard boss. So, I need to be myself rather than being someone I read about in a book, or even like the individual who gave me this feedback. While it is tempting to emulate styles that are effective, doing so, as I have discovered, comes at a detriment to my own effectiveness.
In retrospect, my intentions were good. I simply allowed my lack of confidence in myself, coupled with the stress of implementing all the suggestions the outside consulting firm made for our organization, to make me someone I am not. Fear (stress is always fear) has a way of doing that.
I now feel free, even energized, as someone I deeply respect is inviting me to simply be myself. I don’t have to pretend, which may have never been my intent, but it is apparently what I was unconsciously doing. I can now simply be me. To be sure, this doesn’t mean I will avoid difficult conversations. It just means I will be myself when I do, looking for the good in the situation, and encouraging people along the way.
As this situation demonstrates, I am thankful to be part of a team that is easy to encourage!