Over the years I have noticed that many leaders hide who they really are. They pride themselves on creating a particular persona and refuse to step out of it. This is how they want their teams and their workplaces to know them. They are afraid if they share any personal background or challenges they have had, people will view them differently. Hiding who we honestly are and not sharing our authentic self can actually be confusing for our teams and ultimately create a divide between everyone and us. It is time to take off our masks so that we can be stronger leaders! And here’s why:
Masks create distance
When we connect with people, it is important that they see and hear what we represent. Our teams want to know what we value and where we stand on different issues. Leaders need to be able to share the true direction of where they want to go or the team members just might not support them. Even worse, a team might go down a different path, unable to grasp the real goals or objectives. Then what we have created are two parallel roads, never intersecting or dead-ending.
Masks cultivate mistrust
The foundation for any high performing team is a culture of trust. Trust is built upon honesty and integrity, which cannot be established if we are not being truthful of who we are and what we believe. One way to establish trust is to get to know each in a deeper way. But what if we won’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open up to others? When we build a wall and are unable to tell others about our past mistakes or personal challenges, we cannot expect them to open up. The result is an environment of distrust.
Masks contribute to miscommunication
Clear and open communication is what our teams crave from us and deserve from their leaders. When we use misleading words, don’t listen effectively or display inappropriate body language, our message will be misconstrued. Leaders owe it to their teams to be strong and transparent communicators, not hiding information flow or deliberately choosing confusing language. We need to mean what we say, even if others might not want to hear it.
Masks dilute relationship building
Our team’s success depends on our ability to build respectful relationships, where individuals feel safe to share their honest opinions, even if they are different from ours. Not telling others how we feel and not taking the time to understand their perspective, doesn’t allow for a healthy exchange of ideas. When leaders are insincere, and act differently from what they say, team members will not want to invest in the team. Being able to rely on one another and support each other’s strengths is essential to develop strong working relationships. Looking for and leveraging the unique talents of each person, is key to developing others and helping them grow professionally and personally.
Wearing masks prevents our genuine and authentic selves from leading our teams. It is time we remove the masks and lead openly. Are you a leader ready to unmask yourself? How will you do it?