A few weeks ago a fellow executive and I were discussing a recently promoted manager’s leadership style. He described him like this:
“It seems like Joe is more concerned with what others think about him leading the team, rather than leading the team.”
This guy was not fooling anyone. He was tripping up all over himself trying too hard look good.
As executives, we are constantly evaluating the talent of the up-and-coming leadership pool. Do they “get” our strategy? How do they handle complexity, ambiguity, and all the loose ends? Are they alienating their direct reports, or building them up? Are they contributing to solutions, or complaining about problems?
Which all goes to say that, regardless of your position or where you work, you are being watched. Or maybe “observed” is a better word. No one escapes the radar screen. And trust me, the Board and CEO are doing the same with me and the other execs.
But how are you supposed to lead authentically, from the heart, when you are living inside such a corporate fishbowl?
How do you manage the self-consciousness that comes with the knowledge that your performance is under a magnifying glass?
Ironically, the best managers learn to take this with a grain of salt, and go about their business from the heart, putting their best foot forward. If one gets too caught up in the perception they are creating rather than the integrity of the work itself, things can get awkward.
Besides, everyone knows when you are faking it.
We agreed that Joe would be much more effective if he stopped trying so hard to impress everyone, and just went back to being himself.
Awesome photo by Nance Marie Rosback.