“What You SEE is What You Get”

Leadership Lane....straight ahead

After a long evening of presenting at a high school orientation, followed by a rigorous Q&A session from students and their parents, I was ready to pack up and leave.  It had been a long week.  In addition to the normal work responsibilities, a substantial amount of time had been expended in preparation for the orientation and I was finally ready to leave the auditorium and go home.  As I was hurrying out the door, I felt a soft tap on my shoulder; so I quickly turned around to see a young lady, Jessica, who smiled at me and said, “Thank you for everything. I really like this program and appreciate you being real”.  She went on to say, “I can tell you’re a fun lady, and I’m happy that you are in charge”.  I chuckled at the term used “in charge”, and smiled before answering “Thank you for the compliment Ms Jessica.  You really made my evening.  I will see you in two weeks at Ms. Jackson’s workshop in the library.”  Smiling and with renewed, uplifted attitude, I turned and continued on my way out the door.

On the way home I reflecting back on the conversation and how other’s perceptions of me as a role model and/or leader. One of the things I hope to instill in the young ladies that I’m mentoring, as we progress through the semester, is its ok to be your TRUE self.  Like most young professionals, I continue to strive and hone the straits of my leadership style. Clearly Jessica saw something within me that was authentic and sincere, and as a result, she felt comfortable in sharing her thoughts.  As leaders in the work place and within our communities it is difficult to strike a balance between “getting the job done”, producing results desired by our bosses, and being authentic in all that we do.  Most would agree that it is sometimes difficult to hold true to your values in any of the above settings, but personally, I believe the concept of authenticity is the best trait to have as an effective leader.  If a leader’s vision aligns with what they hold true/value in life (generally), it will be reflected in their leadership style; and it will be recognized by others (peers, co-workers, and mentees).  Before you can lead ANYONE, you have to build/instill trust in those you want to follow you.

one of a kind I am

I have to admit;at times I feel that being my true self is problematic in the work place.  Not only am I very confident in all that I do, it’s done with the energy level of the energizer bunny…and that is ok.  Some of my previous work environments were not as receptive to my personality; and often times it was even difficult to relax/be myself, but also hold true to my cultural values.  As a result, it was sometimes easier to change who I was to assimilate into said environment.  It wasn’t until I had the conversation with Jessica that I realized that it’s seriously OK to be authentically me!

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