How many times have you said to yourself or wished, “if only my staff or committee were more like me?” Because, of course, you are overflowing in intelligence, creativity, organizational skills, implementation, motivation, and any other blank you can fill in. We think, “why don’t they do it how I would?”
Although it might paint a glorious picture in your mind, an organization filled with carbon copies of yourself would be horrific. For every strength you have, a weakness is coming in through the back door to challenge it. So, you would see (and have to address) all those same weaknesses in your staff, colleagues, and volunteers. UGH.
We know that diversity in an organization is a beautiful thing. Our organizations are more innovative, more responsive, and more successful when we encourage and celebrate the differences amongst us.
In 2004, while in graduate school, I drafted a personal philosophy of leadership consisting of nine bullet points. About seven years later I woke up very early one morning – the day I was giving a leadership presentation at the chamber luncheon – and had that light bulb moment with this thought, “who has a top nine of anything?” So, I immediately sat down with my laptop and added #10 in my philosophy: “Be authentic when serving others.”
Just yesterday I was refreshed again in the value of authentic leadership. I was told – over coffee – by a board member of a chamber that I have worked with for several years that she hadn’t previously reached out to me to really connect because she wanted to “emulate me.” Her impression of me was (and in her words): “smooth, polished, and professional” who creates a good “flow” at meetings and retreats. She described herself as esoteric. I have observed a boldness about her (and not just in the colored stripes in her hair) that is confident, captivating, and lasting. She realized that when she conducts trainings or speaks in front of people that if she tried to “be” the way she thought she should (or to be like someone else) that there was a disconnect throughout that session. She probably felt “off.” I told her you have to “click” with yourself before you can “click” with others.
Be genuine, be sincere, be authentic, be yourself. This is true in all relationships, but especially when serving and leading others. It is human nature to admire and study “good” habits of others – especially in leadership roles – but know that what you bring to the table, to the team, to your organization, and its members is unique. That is reason to celebrate. Keep the Cc: for e-mails.