Who’s on Your Team and How Are They Really Feeling?
Anyone who has been a leader for more than five minutes knows that leadership is not a solo sport. We rely heavily on the skills, knowledge, experiences, perspective and brilliance of many others. We also know that when we have healthy and positive relationships, whether at work or in our personal worlds, it is an energising force that enables and empowers us to be at our best. However, when those relationships are difficult and negative, we soon notice our sense of worth and autonomy beginning to erode.
Research suggests that one thing women leaders can fall victim to more frequently than their male counterparts, is a desire to keep everybody happy. Although we may have some level of self awareness about how this plays out in our personal relationships, we don’t always recognise the same pattern when it shows up in our professional relationships. Bosses, team members, peers and stakeholders can all become people with whom we create and maintain unhealthy and less than productive relationships because of our desire to please them. This can result in anything from over-collaboration to a feeling of being hijacked by the opinions of others, causing us to delay and/or water down our own decisions.
Think about who is on your team right now, that is, which relationships are critical for you to achieve your most important outcomes? To determine if these relationships have a healthy foundation, think about the following questions:
- Can I ask for what I want?
- Can I share my thoughts, feelings, and opinions with them without fear of retribution or rejection?
- Do I filter my words, actions and behaviours through what they might think of me?
- Can I admit my weaknesses, mistakes, doubts and insecurities?
- Am I doing more than my fair share of the relational work?
- Do I regularly feel on high alert around them?
- Am I constantly looking for signs and clues that I am not meeting with their approval?
Having a clear and separate sense of self is the foundation of successful leadership and all healthy relationships. Although it is important to collaborate and consult, you also need the courage to show up authentically as a leader. This requires that you lead from who you are, recognising the value that you add, confident that you have something of worth to bring to the table, and detached from needing the approval of others to validate your leadership and decisions.
How secure do you feel to be your true self in your current workplace situation? I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.