Why hiding isn’t the way to lead from the front - Blog Image - Sharon Smith

Why hiding isn’t the way to lead from the front.

What a roller coaster ride it has been over the last wee while.

Pivoting my business to align both aspects of my 1:1 clients and business clients was needed. I knew that I couldn’t have an impact when I was speaking to completely different audiences, and now I have taken the leap I feel so much better, but wow, it’s been a journey.

You see I was hiding.

Hiding behind the limiting belief that I wasn’t good enough.

Hiding behind a fear that people wouldn’t have seen me as a leader.

Hiding behind the fear or not making it a success.

But…

Here I am.

I am Sharon Smith, and I’m an Authentic Leadership Coach. There you go, said it!

Oh, the irony! I coach others to be authentic, but I wasn’t being authentic to myself – how can that be good for business?! The thing is, being a coach doesn’t exempt you from feeling icky about things, the difference is we can recognise it quicker and then we can use tools from our toolkit to help us recalibrate and to get ourselves sorted out.

For me, it was important to make the move. However, I felt concern about whether I would be considered as an experienced leader. I didn’t feel I was corporate enough, even though I had led in a variety of different roles for years in education. Then I was reminded that there is no such thing as looking like a leader. I was getting in my own way and letting my own limiting beliefs take over, and I just needed a good talking to!

Hiding always seems the safer place to be. It seems to be the space where we won’t be discovered, even though that is what we truly want. Hiding provides us with the haven of no judgement, and that can be a wonderful place, but it’s also a place that holds us back from being our authentic selves. So it’s time to break out of our comfort zones.

Putting on my big girl pants is the way forward. Being brave and trusting is the way forward. But more importantly, being true to myself is the best way forward.

I was speaking with another coach this week and she said to me that her mantra was to ‘Strive for authenticity, not for perfection’ and there is nothing truer. You see, I want it to all look perfect. I want my business to be ready for all my wonderful clients, and I’m furiously beavering away in the background to make it all perfect, ready and beautiful. However, that’s not getting me my clients. My clients come when I step into my authentic place – errors and all! My clients come when my energy is high, and I feel empowered to be me. My clients come when I’m honest, true to myself, caring of others, and I share my vulnerability and my story. And that’s the same in your leadership journey.

Your people will not follow you when you are hiding behind a facade of a ‘leader’ – you know that one that I said I didn’t look like?! When you lead from a false place, your people won’t follow you. When you lead from a place of fear, your people will not follow you. When you lead from a place of hustle, your people will turn and run from you.

To lead well, you need to be authentic to yourself. You need to be leading with your heart and soul and turning up as you – warts and all. Everything comes down to relationships. When you relate well to people, people want to be around you, they want to help you, they will champion you and bend over backwards to ensure things get done. When you share your true self with your people, they will do the same back. Effectively, you create your own wee family within your team, and you nurture, support and lead with ease.

Are you afraid of being caught out? Is your facade due to the fear that you will be seen as the imposter you feel you are? Well stop right there. You see everyone feels imposter syndrome. We all have limiting beliefs that stack up against us as can paralyse us from stepping up and achieving. Sometimes we fear the ‘wrath’ so much that we can’t be honest with our people and admit when we don’t know something, or our expertise isn’t in that area. We don’t dare ask for help.

The acronym TEAM – together everyone achieves more – is true. I used to use it in the classroom with my pupils, and it’s so relevant in the modern-day workplace, where there is a need to pull together more to support each other through, what currently are, really challenging times. We also need to know each other well so we can be there for each other. Yes, you are their leader and should be the one who leads in challenging times, but you can begin by being authentic, vulnerable, and leading from your heart.

When you lead from that space, things will change for you. Your team will notice.

They will notice you are being more inclusive. Notice you are less demanding and controlling. Notice you are more curious. Notice you have started sharing more about yourself as an individual.

And guess what?

They will begin to follow you with ease.

They will begin to offer to help more often.

They will begin to ask of you, and what’s going on with you.

And you will then become one of ‘the gang’.

Why does this matter to me? I’ve experienced a few dreadful leaders in my time who led with a command-and-control approach, who shared nothing about themselves with me, and who knew nothing about me at all. There was no mutual relationship, and when times were tough, the pressure this put on me as an employee (who was trying my hardest to authentically lead others at the same time) was tremendous. It always impacted on me in such a way that its negativity permeated every aspect of my life.

I’ve now made it my purpose to help leaders shake off those shackles of hiding. To shake off the beliefs that you need to take that hard edge approach to leadership. The pitiful thing is that those leaders I refer to all knew the power of relationships, they knew how important positive working relationships were, but they didn’t demonstrate that in their daily behaviours.

So, let’s stop hiding. Let’s start leading with heart, with authenticity and with your true natural, real self at the center of what you do. Stop hiding behind the mask that doesn’t serve you and step out into the light of authenticity.

If you need help in getting there, then I’m your girl. I’ve stepped out. I’ve changed my narrative and I’m walking that walk. I know the difference it makes, and I want to share that with you too.

Leadership is a privilege not a right. You as a leader can make such a positive impact in people’s lives or you can make a truly detrimental impact on their lives. Which one do you want to be remembered for?

I’d love for you to share this blog if you know someone who needs to hear this message. Please share with any new leaders out there who might need this support, or subtly print it off and leave on your leader’s desk!!

Let’s strive for authenticity and not for perfection, as there’s no such thing.

Happy leading!

Sharon

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