As founder of Pavo Navigation Coaching, AmyJo Mattheis has a specialty in helping companies large and small identify and address workplace toxicity in all its forms. Mattheis frequently finds herself serving as a sounding board to women in leadership positions who are struggling to own their real power. “As women, we are often conditioned not to ask for things, and to adapt to the workplace, instead of adapting the workplace to our values and needs,” she says. Here are five tools Mattheis offers for becoming a better leader while remaining authentic to oneself:
Decide what you want your workplace to look like
Are you tired of power plays, people talking over others, and blatant competition? Worse, do you feel forced to behave, speak, communicate and manage in ways that aren’t true to who you are?
You have the chance to change your own workplace environment. The key is identifying what you value. Look at leaders you admire and those you don’t to get some clarity.
Make a “Must Have List”
Women in the workplace have traditionally been conditioned not to ask for things. It seems easier not to. But the ask “muscle” is one that is well worth building since it is critical to your success. What is it that will bring you joy and make you feel your most effective or productive? Would you like an environment that embraces diverse perspectives and fosters different styles of communication? One that is dedicated to collaboration and teamwork? One where it is safe to ask questions and actively learn rather than need to pretend you know everything already? Being a strong, powerful and consistent leader starts with your vision.
Learn to trust yourself implicitly
You have your job for a reason. That means you have everything it takes — the intelligence, the capacity, the desire to do your work, to learn, ask questions and be the impactful professional you are. Don’t let a “bad” day or a mistake define or derail you. Instead, embrace them as a way to learn and grow. Trusting yourself means trusting you are not alone and there is an unseen web of energetic support that is there for you to always draw on. Hint: If it seems like that support is lacking, take a walk, do some gardening, get out in nature, which always reminds us that the tenacious cycle of life is always ongoing.
Remember that work isn’t everything
We have all been raised to believe that being a successful professional means giving all our energies to our career. We equate our value as human beings to our work performance, and define success in increments like ladder rungs – the next promotion, the next raise and so on. But we must never forget what truly matters in our lives. Imagine for a moment your funeral service.Who would you want to attend? Who would you want to speak, and what would you want them to say about how you lived your life? When we realize what our enduring priorities are, such as friendship, parenting, love partnerships, caring for the planet, making an impact on the lives of others, we are able to put the work in front of us at our job into perspective. Hint: As you examine your motivation and purpose, remember there is no wrong answer, so be honest and non-judgmental with yourself.
Be yourself, not just some of the time, but all of the time
The first four tools will help you be a consistent, clear, and responsible professional leader. Now, remind yourself that you don’t have to adjust your management or communication style to be what you think someone else needs it to be. It is better for team members to know what they can count on from you for consistency both in smooth sailing and crisis times. That gives them space to learn and grow and makes them want and to be on your team!
Hint: Make a list of your attributes and don’t be shy. I am smart. I am strategic. I am creative. I am intuitive. I am valuable. I am empathetic. Keep it near you at all times and read it through when you feel a challenge coming on.
By AmJo Mattheis, Executive Leadership Coach, www.pavonavigation.com