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Ladies: Are You Having a Leadership Identity Crisis?

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Ladies: Are You Having a Leadership Identity Crisis?

It’s Australia Day 2017.  I’d planned to head out to a magnificent festival but instead I’m at home, waiting for a plumber to arrive. No, it’s not an emergency rush job, I’m waiting for a plumber to arrive to fix the work he did last week that didn’t fix the problem.  I’m waiting for him to turn up and fix the gaping hole he left in the external wall which is now collecting rain.

I’m annoyed.  I imagine a woman yelling commands down the phone prompting the delivery of an appropriate service.  But I don’t do that.  I wait.

My mind ponders the variety of ways I could approach the situation when he finally arrives.  After-all, I am the leader of this house.  Shall I convey gratitude for his gracious rescuing of the damsel in distress on a public holiday none the less?  Shall I muscle up and show my authority as the astute and in charge boss of my domain and tell him he should have got it right in the first place?  Or shall I just adopt a benign, middle of the road, don’t care either way approach?

It’s not just the plumber you know.  These are the decisions I make every single day as a woman in a leadership position.  I’ve got to tell you finding that balance between the person I really am, and the person I need to be has brought about a quagmire of decision making and hair loss.  I know I’m not alone in these worries.

Too tough – you’re a ball breaker.  Too soft – a push over.  Ambivalent – you’re more concerned with your kids or nails.  Hot and cold – you have ‘women’s issues’.

But you know what?  The knot in my stomach finally started to untangle when I worked out that I could define who I wanted to be as a woman in leadership.  That, and realising that once I knew who I wanted to be, what other people thought of me was none of my damn business.

It seems obvious in hindsight but knowing that the demeanour, personality, beliefs, presence and decisions I made as a leader were entirely up to me, has been my biggest career oriented wake-up call thus far.  In fact, a call that has spun through my entire life.  Maybe this will be something that inspires your journey too.

Whether you are leading your own life, a Small Business, a family, a house or a community, who you are as a leader is entirely up to you.  You do not have to follow a pre-designated map, you do not have to copy someone you secretly loathe, you do not have to fall into a leadership style that you think you should adopt but is completely incongruent to every fibre of your being.

The biggest secret about knowing who you are as a leader is that you can choose.  The only glitch is that you actually have to define that, and then practice it every day.

Not sure where to start?  Here are some ideas:

  • Know your core values.  What matters most to you?  What does that tell you about who you want to be as a leader?
  • What other women in leadership do you admire?  What is it that you admire about them?  What parts of that do you want to emulate?
  • What are your skill gaps?  What do you need to learn and how?
  • Who do you trust to point out your blind spots?
  • What are your strengths and how can you maximise them?
  • If you were to describe your leadership style in three words, what would they be?
  • What do you lose sleep over?  How does this relate to you as a leader?  What needs to change?
  • Do you lead in your working life as you do at home?  What is incongruent?  What needs to change?

I thoroughly believe we are now in an age where the world needs female leaders.  If this is you it’s time to lead with purpose and lead on purpose.  You made it here on your merit, not because you are good at acting as someone else.  It’s time to be you in leadership.

As for the plumber, I’ll embrace it as an opportunity to rehearse my leadership abilities.  Wish him luck.

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