When I entered the workforce, I can still remember my parents telling me not to bring your personal life into business. When I heard this, the first thing I thought about was to show up “professionally” and not to bring my personal problems into work.
Seems obvious, right?
We are paid to do our jobs and not talk about our personal life as it would be a distraction in the workplace.
Then I took that advice even further and kept my personal life separate from my work life. That evolved into creating two personalities – “Lorie at work” and “Lorie at home”.
Add the fact that I was in roles that led the Human Resources function in companies and wanted to create a certain “she’s cool, calm and collected” image. As a result, I created another layer to who I really am. I felt a heavy responsibility to act and be a certain way to project what I thought people expected of me.
I wasn’t being authentic and the true Lorie operating from her heart as well as her mind.
In a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School with Bill George (Harvard Professor and Author of Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value), Peter Sims (Co-Author of True North), Andrew N. McLean and Diane Mayer, they interviewed 125 leaders from ages 23 to 93 and discovered that the common leadership style emerged from their life stories. Through these interviews, they learned that these leaders used their real life experiences to better understand who they were at their core to uncover their leadership purpose and values.
So in other words, authentic leaders show up with a strong sense of purpose and embody their values every moment they can.
I did not get this until a few years ago when I could not pretend to be the strong HR Leader anymore and broke down in a room full of male executives. I was going through a separation plus I felt my voice was not being heard in the room and both frustrations caused the flood gates to open. I was horrified and embarrassed. “What are they going to think of me?”
And then the most amazing thing happened following that episode. I was met with every executive and given encouragement and gratitude for being authentic and courageous to speak up. From that moment, I got it.
For many years, I was afraid to share my past because I didn’t want to be judged. The desire to show up strong, confident and together was so ingrained in me that people only saw one side of Lorie. I hid any vulnerability thinking it would make me look weak. I was wrong.
I am now proud of where I came from, good or bad, because those experiences have shaped me into the leader and human being I am today.
I will always lead from my essence and shine my light on you!
Think about a difficult time in your past and journal what you learned about yourself. What values did you use or enhance through this experience? How did it shape you into the human being you are today? What learning can you apply to your leadership personally and professionally?
Remember everything happens for a reason. Find the reason and own it!