How to show weakness without being weak

The most effective way that you can build trust in your team is by sharing your weakness and how you are trying to overcome them. If you encourage your staff to share their professional development needs and opportunities with you YET you don't share with them, you are setting yourself up to be a bad leader.

I was talking to one of my clients about revealing her professional development goals to her staff and boss. She wasn't excited about revealing to her team how she was trying to work on her weaknesses, namely hiring me as her leadership coach. She isn't alone in her thinking. It doesn't make her a bad person. In fact, most people don't want to share their weaknesses with their team. This is faulty thinking.

Here's why. 

#1: You send the wrong message

As a leader, your job is to develop your talent to do their work most effectively. You usually ask your staff to set personal development goals and to share those with you so you are up to date what they are doing, how they are struggling, and how you can support them. Yet, if your staff NEVER sees you, their leader, doing the same thing, then you unconsciously communicate that "personal development is only necessary to get you into leadership and after that, you don't need it anymore. "

For most leaders, that is a phrase you would never say aloud because you know it is utterly ridiculous.  Personal and professional development is a need throughout a leaders' life time. So why not reinforce your commitment to personal development by sharing how you are developing yourself?

The most effective way that you can build trust in your team is by sharing your weakness and how you are trying to overcome it. Continual research has proven that team members respond to authentic open honest leadership. Too many people want to hide their flaws instead of sharing them strategically.

#2: They already know your weakness.

Your staff already knows your development needs. In fact, they probably know your development needs more than you do. They come in frequent contact with your "development needs". They complain to their spouses or friends about how your "development need" got on their nerves just yesterday. 

How to show weakness without being weak

Since you want to be a leader who sets the example of good leadership, I encourage my clients to share their weakness without being weak. The reason leaders don't want to show weakness is a fear and trust issue. You are asking your team to trust you  but you don't trust them. You are too afraid of how you'll look. 

It's time you let people see behind the curtain.

One leadership coach, Marshall Goldsmith says he does not get paid unless the key stakeholders say his client has shown significant improvement. The secret sauce behind Goldsmith's strategy is that the client chooses the stakeholders and they are involved from the beginning. It isn't  random and it isn't secretive. It is a strategic process.

The secret to showing weakness without being weak is inviting select group to witness your transformation. Imagine if your boss came to you and said, "You all have told me I am not great at listening. I hired a coach to help me with this. Would you mind if once a month, I ask you how I'm doing on not interrupting people in the office?"

His or her stock would dramatically rise. If your staff is coming to you with their weaknesses and you are leading them to develop plans and execute the plans to overcome their weaknesses then why wouldn't you share your plan to do the same with your staff?  Do you have to expose every single detail? No. Do you have to reveal personal issues about yourself? No. What you have to do is release the pride that says I can't show my weaknesses.


Forget Time Management...focus on this instead!

"Forget time management, focus on energy management instead." 

The first time I heard of energy management was when one of my panelists at my the "Women, Work, and Time Management" (see photo) panel discussion mentioned it as a time management tip. I was immediately intrigued so looked into it. 
photo credit Jeff McManus

In 2003, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz published The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time is the key to high performance and personal renewal.

The premise of the book is that we often focus too much on managing time with little to no regard for how to manage our body's natural energy. Loehr and Schwartz argue that just as physical athletes know the importance of work and recovery, the "corporate athlete" needs to exercise the same strategy at work.

In another article, Manage Your Energy Not Your Time Schwartz explains that the problem with time management is that time is a finite resource that can't be renewed. There is absolutely no way to get more time when it is used up.  We only have a limited number of hours in everyday. Energy however, according to the Law of Conservative Energy, is a finite resource that can be renewed. While the amount of energy you have can't change, according to the scientific law, the energy can be transferred or renewed and used in more productive ways.

"Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals—behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible."

What rituals? Nothing hokie. Rituals like going to bed at a certain time. Taking breaks. Doing fun stress relieving activities.

Our usual response to being overworked is to put in MORE time to clear our plates. That usually means cutting out the things that renew us with energy. Instead of waking up early to pray or meditate, an activity that would replenish our energy supply, we instead wake up early to get work done, spending our energy.

Worry takes energy. Overwhelm takes energy. Negative stress takes energy. Worry, overwhelm, and stress are things we think happen to us as if we have no control over whether to receive them. Not so. We are the only ones who can control whether we choose to spend our energy in worry, stress, or overwhelm.

By shifting our mindset from time management to energy management, you no longer have to "find the energy" to get things done. You already have the energy. It's just being used in the energy depleting tasks of worry, stress, and overwhelm

Before I dive into tips on managing you energy as a time management tool, I'd like to hear from you. If you'd never heard of this energy management idea before, what did you think? If you are familiar with it, what are its limitations?

Leave a comment.


"You Don't Belong Here"

I attended the Integrating Woman Leaders (IWL) Women's leadership conference a few weeks ago. This was the first time I was representing my company, my brand, and myself. In times past, I was either representing my job or I was attending as a proverbial fly on the wall.

I chose this conference because I had an agenda and purpose. I wanted to be surrounded by like minded women who were unashamedly taking action to advance themselves or their organization. I wanted to set the precedent of investing in my personal develop. And I also wanted to understand the issues facing my target market. 

During the morning inspiration and call to action, I was very excited. Then something strange happened. As I was listening to the wonderful speech about taking risks in the game of life by Jennifer Wolfgram, VP of Commercial education at Roche Diagnostics, all of a sudden my shoulders began to droop. I took my eyes off of the speaker and began looking around at the 500 plus attendees and they I heard this...

"What are YOU do here? You don't belong here. You're just a little company and these women are in BIG business and are serious."

I will admit I entertained that thought longer than I should have. I looked around at the women on stage and in the seats next to me. They all looked so sure of themselves and confident. I started to go down the path of self loathing but then I stopped. You see I've been down that road before so I knew exactly where it would lead me. I would spend the rest of the conference feeling like I didn't fit in, that I was a fraud, and secretly kicking myself for investing in a waste of time. Well I didn't want that. I wanted a different kind of day. So I decided to own my leadership and address the question.

The speaker, Jennifer Wolfgram, was just saying that on the road of life you will be tested. This was my test and I recognized it. I told that devil (you call it whatever you like) that I was not going to fall that trick. I squared my shoulders, lifted my head, and won that battle with the internal declaration "I am here because this is where I belong."

The theme for the conference was "Purpose, Passion, and The Will To Lead". In that moment of temptation, I had to make a choice. Will I surrender my purpose and passion to uncertainty and intimidation or will I take the lead? I took the lead. After all the money I spent on hotel, travel, and a new outfit, I was not going to let anything stop me from being open to the wonderful things awaiting me that day.

There were so many wonderful things awaiting me that day including: 
  • a fun keynote by Karen Hough, author of Be The Best Bad Presenter, on how to use improvisation to open yourself up to possibilities and negotiations.
  • a phenomenal breakout session about how women can develop their strategic thinking skills by Jennifer Zinn. This was by far my favorite session.
  • A signed copy of No Excuses: 9 Ways Woman Can Change How We Think About Power by Gloria Feldt.
  • a great networking lunch where I met several connections.
  • meeting some awesome women
  • a big boost in my confidence
As women, we think that if we have a thought then we are the originators of that thought. That is not true. Things are suggested to us all the time. We've all experienced it. We're on a diet and we see the ad for the brand new meal at our favorite restaurant . We then think "I want that". And the cycle or self loathing begins and we beat ourselves up for having the thought. But the truth is, your thought was a suggestion originated by the advertisers of that restaurant. 

Let me put it another away. You've just been promoted. You're excited to lead your team but then you hear this thought :

"What makes you think you can run this group better than the last guy? Who do you think you are? You're the only woman. You don't belong here."

Before you agree with these thoughts, take a minute to examine the result of accepting them. What benefit will it produce? Will it give you the energy and confidence to move forward? Will it open up your creativity so ideas can flow freely? 

If the answer is no, then veto that thought. 

Of all the wonder that I experienced at the conference, it was during the days following the conference that I realized why I was trying to be distracted at the beginning.

In the airport the day after the conference I initiated a conversation with one of the panelists from the "Mentoring Women, Achieving Results" session. She and I talked for almost an hour and found ourselves reveling in the camaraderie. Once I got home, I followed up with EVERY person I met. One particular woman and I had such a good time validating each other, encouraging each other, and talking business that we literally had to make ourselves get off the phone so we could get back to work. We decided to speak monthly just to keep each other accountable and moving forward. I also was able to connect a job seeker with a potential lead.

None of that would have been possible had I surrendered to the intimidation and fear. 

At the moment you're tempted, you don't know what lies down the road. All you have is the present information. I implore you my dear love to face your doubt head on. Be brave enough to face it with the knowledge that something amazing must be about to happen since the opposition is forming so early.

This blog is about inspiring you live BRAVELY and giving you practical ways to do that. So here are some practical takeaways from my conference experience with doubt.
How to answer when someone (even yourself) suggests you don't belong
  • Remember your purpose and your big "why". Why are you there? Doing what you do? What is the reason or purpose driving you?
  • Invoke your veto power. You do not have to accept every suggestion that comes your way. Kick it out by creating an empowering thought. 
  • Fuel your new empowering thought by remembering all the evidence of your past success.

What are some ways you've overcome self doubt?