“Platinum is a symbol of true love, purity, rarity and strength.”
As a leader, you would have experienced the impact you have when you are fully in your authenticity. You connect and communicate more effectively resulting in less conflict, your team feels heard and accepted by you, and everything seems to run more smoothly. You would also have experienced that the more authentically you lead and connect with others, the more success flows to you.
But leading authentically doesn’t always come naturally and doing it all the time is not as easy as it sounds. We all have bad days, bad weeks, bad years. We can be rocked by events in our personal or professional lives that knock the wind out of our sails and can result in us closing down, wearing battle armour and becoming harder for others to connect to. Most of us at this level of leadership are very effective in managing work stress, but throw in a marriage breakdown, a sick parent or spouse, a child experiencing difficulties, a health issue or even a redundancy, and it can feel like you’re barely holding it together. And what if all of that happened at the same time as it sometimes does? You most probably wouldn't be at your best.
Leading authentically requires us to be clear on our identity and what we stand for, and be comfortable revealing that side of ourselves, no matter what the circumstances. To get to that place, it’s helpful to identify the derailers that can take us off course:
1. The Masks We Wear
Many of us have experienced the need to wear a mask at work, playing a role, dressing, acting, speaking and operating in a certain way in order to be admired, accepted and successful in that corporate culture. Even cultures that espouse inclusivity can subtly discriminate against employees who don’t exactly conform to the corporate norms. We learn early on through osmosis which behaviours get rewarded and which get punished. If we do that for long enough, we can lose the ability to differentiate our authentic self from the various masks we wear.
2. Outside Influences
So many of us have also had our decisions influenced by significant others in our life. We might have made ‘sensible’ or parental approved decisions about what we studied at university, what career path we chose, or even who we married. If we didn’t course correct early, in moments of high personal and professional stress, the misalignment can become glaringly evident and unsettling, and also impact how we present to the world.
It’s so easy with a successful career to get caught up on the treadmill, with all the adrenaline and intrinsic/extrinsic rewards, and lose years, never stopping to question whether the race is the right one. When the carpet gets pulled out from under us, it’s an opportunity to reset, re-evaluate, and remember who we were before all the stuff that used to define us.
Many people inadvertently anchor their identity to their job and other symbols of success. But what if it wasn’t there anymore? In the current environment, redundancies are common and the more senior you are, the harder it can be to move on physically, mentally and emotionally. Would you still be the same person if all that disappeared tomorrow? Would you jump straight back in to something similar or would you take the opportunity to consider reinvention? In the context of potentially a hundred year life, we are all likely to have multiple careers.
So what’s all this got to do with leadership and ‘platinum you’?
When life throws you curve balls, it can actually be a gift in disguise, giving you valuable life lessons that make you better, stronger, more compassionate as a person, and ultimately a better leader. You have an enormous influence on the people you lead and this influence can be either positive or negative. There are so many lost and lonely people working in Australian businesses and the workplace can sometimes be the only lifeline. With five generations in the workplace with differing needs, and mental health issues on the rise, you can be a force for good if you are authentically you in order to help others. Your ability to learn to lead authentically under all circumstances, will be your greatest gift to others and to yourself.
But you don’t have to wait for a crisis to connect with your ‘platinum self’, which is you at your purest, rarest, strongest and most compassionate.
Consider who can help you to step into your authenticity. A coach and mentor can help you uncover your blind spots and challenge and support you through the process to become your authentic best under any circumstances.
I’ll leave you with some questions to consider.
How often and in what circumstances are you in your authentic self?
If you stripped away all the aspects of your life that define you, who would be left?
If you're operating as your ‘platinum you’, what does that look like?
If you’re reading this and something has resonated, and you would like to continue the conversation, I would love to hear from you.
Naomi White is a transformational leadership expert and the Founder and Managing Director of Metamorph Co, a consultancy specialising in building strong authentic leadership and purpose driven cultures.
For more information, contact Naomi via www.metamorphco.com