“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde.
Who are you trying to be anyway?
I was once advised that as a manager of a team of people, I should prepare myself at the beginning of each working day as if I was about to go on stage in a live performance. I should put on my “show face” and ready myself to act out my part with all the dialogue and persona of some idealistic management guru. It was explained to me that in order to inspire others and promote a positive, high performance culture, I had to always be the smiley, “can-do” showman who never skipped a beat despite any challenge that was thrown my way. And for a time I believed this was the way to go.
But it didn’t feel right. It was artificial and false and in all likelihood, I came across that way.
I’m not sure what snapped me out of that mindset, but I’m so glad that it happened.
I now realise that great leaders are authentic. They genuinely believe in what they are doing and they don’t need to put on any form of disguise, nor act in a manner that is feigned. They have their quirks, their unique styles and they are certainly not perfect. They may not always be politically correct or outwardly positive for every moment of every day, yet they are themselves. They are comfortable in their own skin and they are real.
Lisa Rosh and Lynn Obermann in their HBR publication “Be Yourself but Carefully“, highlight the critical requirement to lead with authenticity is to firstly be self-aware of your values, your emotions and your competencies, then how you’re perceived by others.
Being an avid AFL fan, I recently read Chris Judd’s autobiography “Inside”. In the book he tells of taking over the captaincy of the West Coast Eagles team from Ben Cousin’s, the larger than life character at the club, who despite battling his drug demons, was an awesome player and to many he remained the spiritual leader of the playing group (and many of the fans). But Judd realised quickly that he had to be himself and not try to replicate Cousin’s leadership style. He states, “I think I was also a strong leader, but in a different way. I was every bit as single-minded and intense as him, but went about playing my footy in a different way… Ben is an extrovert, I’m an introvert. It was a good mix”. Judd remained true to himself and focused on his strengths.
If you feel like you are trying to be someone else, maybe it’s time to let it go and make this year one about simply being yourself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.
And if that resolution for the new year doesn’t do it for you, maybe go with the good old’ lose weight by doing more exercise. I’ve never owned a gym or personal fitness training business, but I imagine those who do love this time of year when their membership numbers increase dramatically based on the resolution to get fitter, be healthier and purge the pudge following an over indulgent festive season.
Best wishes for the year ahead and good luck. If your new year resolution relates to a career move, or improving performance and productivity in your workplace check out our website www.ogroup.com.au.
Ben Walsh – General Manager, Recruitment