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Authentic vs. a Façade in Leadership




Leadership is all about relationships.

Most leaders focus on learning tools, tactics, and strategies in how to lead, speak to, and manage their direct reports effectively. While tools and tactics are important, you may be missing the biggest lever in your ability to lead in your relationships.


When you as a leader focus on the managing outside, you miss the biggest obstacle to growth and learning: working with what’s happening inside of you.


How you talk to yourself matters, a whole lot. In fact, what you are saying, thinking, and feeling about yourself is influencing every choice and decision you make. Just because you aren’t saying something out loud, doesn’t mean it isn’t being broadcast out into the world.

Have you ever found yourself saying to yourself, “I sure hope today isn’t the day they figure out I really don’t know what I am doing.”?


Just before the big presentation, have you ever said internally, “Gosh, I sure hope I don’t make a fool of myself.”?


You, and I, have learned to pretend, and act as-if, everything is fine. You’ve been taught to be confident no matter what. What’s the problem with this strategy?


You’re putting on a façade, and other people, deep down, feel it, notice it, and react to it.

It’s not your fault. You’ve been conditioned to be incongruent, inauthentic, and adopt a persona. You may even think it’s been working for you pretty well, and that you’ve got everyone fooled.


Maybe…maybe not.


The reason I (Susan) take leaders out to a ranch and put them in a round pen with a horse – not on the horse – just in the round pen with a horse who is walking around at liberty with no halter or reins – is horses are instant biofeedback machines.


Horses know how you feel the moment you step out of your car.

Horses can read your heart rate.

Horses pick up your respiratory rate whether we are breathing deeply or rapidly.

Horses know when you’re feeling anxious, tensing, or stressing out.


No, horses don’t know the story you are telling yourself, but horses pick up the fact that the confident cool exterior isn’t a match for what’s happening inside you. The incongruence of that façade reads danger to them. They respond with, “I am NOT trusting you.” They give you clear immediate feedback.


Why is their immediate so valuable to experience?


Because the truth is your people pick up your in-congruence as well. However, they’re being “good employees” and keeping their mouths shut, but their level of trust is eroded every time you are in-congruent versus authentic.


Because as a result of you being a leader in an organization, you get less and less real, honest effective feedback the higher you rise. Your effectiveness actually diminishes the more you get promoted. The one caveat, if you have a good coach,is that they will also give you frank, honest, immediate feedback. (CrisMarie and I do that too!)


Because you can recognize what’s not working for you and learn to change it in that very moment. This is the most powerful, long-term learning we have seen people encounter. You are learning not just at the cognitive level, but at the nervous system level. You can take that back to the office and feel the difference. So will your people.


Even though confidence and poise are important for business success, it really only works if you’re living it from the inside out, authentically.


If you want to increase the fidelity of what you broadcast, to improve your influence, and expand your impact in the organization and business, reach out to me, Susan. I can get you in a round pen in any city you’re in or come out to Whitefish Montana, home of Glacier National Park.


Want to bring your whole team? We love working with teams to improve their trust, cohesion, and results.


If you aren’t ready for the horses, CrisMarie or I are happy to coach you individually. Our goal is help you become more authentic and effective in your leadership so that you can have the impact you long for.


Give us a call or reach out to us here.

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