Women Bringing Their Whole Selves to Work: Part 1

This 4 part series will explore how women can step into their greatness and “bring their whole selves to work’ – being present and authentic, developing relationships and delivering results at work and at home. Part 1 will look at how you define yourself as a leader. Future blogs (one month apart) will tackle making the vision real, looking at what gets in the way and getting into action.

Six Ways to Define Yourself as a Leader

What strikes me, in having worked with hundreds of women leaders, is how much we get in our own way and shut down our progress.

  • We are not clear about who we are and what we stand for.
  • We are not good at making our vision real and actionable.
  • We hold self limiting beliefs about what is possible.
  • We don’t get into action or if we do, we lose momentum.

For example, I recently worked with Jane, a senior woman in the technology space. We were talking about leadership and what makes a great leader. Jane told me that the best leaders that she worked with had a number of specific attributes.

  • They were clear on their purpose and values.
  • They were authentic – what they said and what they did matched.
  • They supported and mentored others.
  • They took risks and were not afraid of making mistakes.

What does this mean for you? Who are you as a leader? How do you develop clarity on your leadership vision? Here are some things to think about:

  1. What are the qualities that make you stand out? In my client’s case it was her ability to connect the dots and tell a story from the data. She also has a personality that draws people in and engages them in conversation. Think back to times when you have really shone and ask yourself the question “what was I doing and how was I being that made me stand out”.
  2.  Check in with others and ask them to describe your strengths. Speak to colleagues, family members, your community. We can often be modest when describing our own strengths and not see what we bring to the table. With these strengths ask yourself what qualities was I demonstrating? What impact was I having on others?
  3. Do you know what values are most important to you? The qualities that make you stand out are rooted in and directly linked to two or three core values and what you are passionate about. Think of high points in your life. See what is important about each one. Your high points are times when you are living your values. Now look at your low points. These are times when your values have been compromised. What values were absent or threatened that made it so unsatisfying for you?
  4. Pick two or three values and really embrace them. Bring them “into your bones” so they become an essential part of you, like your muscles, skin and bone. The more you step into and lead from your values, the more authentic you will be.
  5. What impact do you want to have as a leader? Research shows that people remember us for what we say, the stories we tell, how we respond under pressure and what we are seen to reward. The greatest leaders tell stories that support their values and what they are looking to cause in the world. What stories do you want to tell? What impression do you want to leave after chance or short meetings? What value do you want to bring to others?
  6. What is your legacy? This last idea brings it all together. Get clear on your purpose, the “why” you are here. We all have a purpose, a reason for being, and the clearer we get on what that is, the more we can lean into it and live productive, fulfilled lives. And in living our purpose we will empower others to live it as well.

So what are you waiting for? Look inward and ask yourself who am I as a leader and what do I stand for? Are you ready to make a difference in your life and in the teams that you lead?


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