Is Your Leadership a Persona?

leadership personaRecently I was returning from vacation and while sitting on our flight home, the line "...hints at his bad-but-not-too-bad-boy persona" grabbed my attention. It was in an article by author Beverly Keel describing the brilliant career of country singer Tim McGraw. She went on to explain how McGraw has developed a willingness to be himself and make that his offering to the world. As a leader, how comfortable are you with being yourself as your offering? It so happened that my next activity was listening to a David Whyte talk about developing a truly authentic life and he said "...develop a kind of allergic reaction to the persona that you are constantly presenting to the world..."  *

According to one of the definitions of a persona is, “the mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality.” It’s important to consider how much of your leadership is dependent on a persona you have constructed. There are several reasons for this. First, other people can sense inauthenticity. It can create a variety of reactions from mild concern and luck of trust all the way to fear and suspicion. Second, if you are a dependent on a persona it takes a lot of energy to keep it up. What if you are found out? What if your team knew who you really are?

If you are consciously or subconsciously presenting a persona and are dependent on its perpetuation you are by definition restricted and limited. In today’s complex business environment you can’t afford to be limited. You need all of what you have to be accessible and available. In addition, a team that is suspicious or fearful of its leader is certainly not going to be creative, innovative or productive.

Years ago I was inspired by the lyric "I don't want to swim in a roped off sea" from a Jimmy Buffett song. If you want to be an inspiring leader consider how much of yourself you are holding back and why? In my lifetime pursuit of an unrestricted sea, I have learned that in committing myself to be fully me, fully self-expressed, I simply have to be that way and be willing to have the consequences. Not so bad when you stop to think there are consequences whether you are bringing all of yourself to the table or not.

The freedom you can achieve by truly being yourself will pay off. You will have more of who you are as a leader available and your team will benefit because they will know who they are really dealing with and working for.

*David Whyte - Arranging to Get Tired of Yourself, Midlife And The Great Unknown photo credit: Stian Eikeland via photopin cc