As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, I have always struggled with the balance between remaining private and at the same time being misunderstood because I don’t share my feelings. I was raised in a repressed environment with the adage, “what would the queen do?” guiding my reactions to situations. Now, in some cases, this can be rather charming but honestly, for the most part, this is probably exasperating for the recipient of this stiff-upper-lip attitude. Over the years, as I have explored the desirable characteristics of great leaders, authenticity seems to be the value I most admire and strive for.
Here are three important tips you can use to reveal your intentions, condensed from a great blog by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback:
1. First, talk explicitly about your intentions — what’s important to you, the goals you seek, the values and motives that guide your actions and decisions. Talk as well about the sources of your intentions — the experiences that forged them. When you do something or make a choice, explain both the business and personal reasons. Don’t assume people will see them. Say them outright. Invite a discussion about them.
This sounds easy, but many resist the idea that the boss must stoop to explain himself. Being the boss, they think, means not having to do that. But if they want to generate the kind of trust that gives them real influence and elicits the best from their people, they will talk about their intentions.
2. The second way to reveal your intentions is through integrity. Walk the talk. Keep your word. Be sure that what you say is consistent with what you do. This will prove your authenticity. If you tell people to be open to new ideas, but you’re not, they will doubt what you say. If they don’t understand or believe your intentions, how can they trust you to do the right thing?
3. The third way you reveal your intentions is through consistency. The intentions you speak about and practice should be the same from day to day, from person to person, from situation to situation. If they’re not, and there’s no reason for the difference, your lack of consistency will lead people to doubt you as well. If there are differences, be sure to explain them. Be sensitive to how others see and interpret your reasons for what you do.
Going through my recent battle with breast cancer was further evidence to me, that the more honest and authentic I am about my feelings and intent, the more engaged and effective I am. I would appreciate hearing about your leadership journey, and what led you to become more authentic.