“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland
Last week in this space the conversation was about understanding who you are and who you aren’t, and then getting help where you need it. Based on the feedback that came in, that topic struck a nerve. I thought it was a relevant discussion to have, but apparently it was even more relevant than I thought.
After listening to what some leaders had to say, it’s pretty apparent that “faking it” is taking up a lot of time for a lot of leaders. The idea that as leaders we have to look like we have it all together, or look like we have all the answers, or look like we’re a never ending fountain of great ideas seems to be weighing down an awful lot of people. It’s exhausting to have to constantly be putting on a performance.
So stop it. The reality is that the people you lead don’t actually think you have it all together. They know you don’t have all the answers. They have plenty of good ideas of their own. You faking it doesn’t accomplish anything other than make you look like a phony.
Carve some time out of your day to do a brutally honest self-assessment. Think about what you really do well. What are your real strengths and/or core competencies? Where do you bring unique value? Think about what you don’t do well. What are your weaknesses? Where do you really need help?
Write all that stuff down and then think about what you can actually do about it. It might be that you need to work out a plan to spend more time on certain areas where you excel. It might be that you need to purposefully delegate some things that you struggle with. It might just be that you need to regularly remind yourself that when you find yourself faced with a certain topic to just be honest and admit you don’t have an answer.
Currently, the word “authentic” is being used a lot, almost to the point of overkill. The reality, though, is that authenticity as a leader is a big deal. It’s important that you try to be you and not somebody else. It can feel counterintuitive in the moment, but the people you lead will respect you more when you genuinely acknowledge your struggles and needs. Don’t fake it. Just be you.