Do the words "I'm a leader" ever stumble off your tongue leaving you feeling doubtful about your capabilities? Or, do you feel like an imposter playing a leadership role? What is it that trips us up when we have to verbalize our leadership role?
I was in Chicago last week for the fourth-largest software company's, customer event, Salesforce Connections. Alongside four amazing women, I led a women's network lunch and learn where these courageous leaders debunked the doubt and owned their leadership like Freddie Mercury at Live Aid.
Why does it feel so unnatural?
Today, Fortune 500 companies are making tremendous investments for initiatives supporting gender equality, e.g., awareness campaigns, recruiting, mentoring, etc. While these are great steps, Harvard Business Review reports, the unseen barrier in moving the needle for more female leaders in executive positions is how women internalize and self-identify with their own leadership. I don't think it's just "a woman" thing. I believe it's a gender-agnostic challenge.
Think about all the different roles you have e.g., mother, son, friend, aunt, co-worker or, brother, sister or father. Can you recall the last time you introduced yourself when with your parents? "Hi. I'm Gisela, Lydia's daughter." It's rolls off your tongue without hesitation.
The reason why verbalizing your role as a daughter (or son) comes easy, is because those roles have absolute definitions. Your parents had a romantic date (I'll spare the cringe-making details) and nine moths later a stork delivered you on the doorsteps. Leadership is not so black and white. It's iridescent. In fact, leadership is a personalized definition that aligns with your authenticity and purpose.
Before you can think about self-identifying and embodying your leadership you need to first define it. Once you define your leadership, you can then practice the verbalization and embodying of it. It's kind of like when you're newlyweds and it takes some getting used to saying, "I'm his wife" or "I'm her husband." After some practice, it proudly becomes part of who you are without doubt.
The feedback from the women's lunch and learn on creating a personalized leadership statement was overwhelming positive. "This was the leadership energy boost I was looking for." "This was so impactful to developing my leader brand." "It feels good to own my leadership."
Take 10 minutes to create your Personal Leadership Statement in five easy steps.
What results do you want to achieve in the next year? Take into account customers, employees and the organization. Example: Deliver stellar financial performance for my business.
What do you wish to be known for? Choose six descriptor words that represent the qualities you want to be known for and are critical to your leadership. Example: Collaborative, Deliberate, Independent, Innovative, Results-oriented, Strategic
Define your identity? Consolidate your six descriptor words from above into three two-word phrases reflecting your desired leadership identity. Example: Independently Innovative, Deliberately Collaborative, Strategically Results-Oriented
Construct your leadership brand statement. In this step, you pull everything together into your personal leadership statement that makes a “so that” connection between what you want to be known for (Steps 2 and 3) and your desired results (Step 1). Fill in the blanks: “I want to be known for being (Step 3) , so that I can deliver (Step 1) .” Example: “I want to be known for being independently innovative, deliberately collaborative and strategically results-oriented so that I can deliver stellar financial performance for my business.”
Develop a daily practice. What’s one thing you can do daily, to demonstrate your personal leadership brand statement? Example: Write it in your notepad. Silently recite it before a big meeting.
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