In years past, the leader was the boss. Yesterday’s leaders shared information on a need-to-know basis and personal disclosures were rare.
Since then, leadership has evolved. Successful leaders today can no longer lead based solely on the power of their title or position. They must create genuine partnerships with those they lead, based on the following fundamental belief:
Leadership is not something you do to people;
It’s something you do with people.
So, how do you create genuine connection with the people who work with you? One of the most effective practices is Sharing Information About Yourself—which is one of the fourteen SLII® micro skills I’ve been discussing in my last several blogs.
How to Share About Yourself Effectively
Like many skills, there’s a right way and a wrong way to share information about yourself in a work setting. Let’s begin with the right way.
A good start is to share your Leadership Point of View with the people you lead. Your Leadership Point of View describes the key people who have influenced your life—such as parents, grandparents, coaches, or bosses—and what you learned about leadership from these people. It also describes key events that were turning points for you and explains what you learned from those experiences. Finally, your Leadership Point of View identifies your personal purpose and values. By sharing your Leadership Point of View, people will know your values, what you expect from yourself, and what you expect from them.
It’s Not About You
Use good judgment when sharing information about yourself. Remember, the purpose of sharing about yourself is to foster a thriving partnership. It’s not about you; it’s about creating connection.
Keep the focus on sharing information that will be useful to the person you’re leading. The information you share should put them at ease and help them relate to you. Do not waste people’s time by oversharing or disclosing personal information that could make people uncomfortable.
Before you disclose personal information, ask yourself: Will this information serve the person I am leading? Perhaps you have a personal anecdote that can help someone understand why a task is important. Maybe you have a story about an error you made that can illustrate why a certain policy or procedure makes sense. It can be helpful to share your mistakes with others, so that they don’t have to learn the hard way.
It’s Okay To Be Vulnerable
As Brené Brown contends in her bestselling book, Dare to Lead, it’s okay for leaders to be vulnerable. You might think that if you admit you don’t know how to solve every problem, people will see you as weak. Quite the contrary. When you show your vulnerabilities, rather than thinking less of you, people will think more of you. Why? Because they already know you don’t know everything!
For example, my team is aware of the fact that I often don’t know how to say no. I’ve never heard a bad idea, so I say yes too easily. As a result, I tend to become overcommitted—which puts stress on me and my team. That’s why we established a system a few years ago for me to give out my executive assistant’s business card instead of my own, so she can help screen calls and talk with me about which business proposals are realistic considering my time, energy, and the team’s resources.
Did admitting I have a hard time saying no weaken my leadership? Not in the least. In fact, it led to a solution that made work easier for all of us.
So—with others’ best interests in mind—share information about yourself with your team. You’ll be building trust, strengthening relationships, and leading more effectively.