Feelings

It's OK To Be Bare

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing" - Abraham Lincoln


Photo courtesy of EJP via Compfight

The howling Halloween winds last week snaked through our trees quickly and with force last week.The scenic color palette of yellows, reds, and orange went down without a fight. The result was a scenery of colorless brown trees with a colorful crunching skirting of leaves. Yup. It really is fall now in the Midwest. As sad as I am to see my gardens go to sleep and the trees baring all, it really is a great feat of Mother Nature.

Trees are a lot like us when it comes to the seasons. Their alarm clock to start shutting down is the failing light as the days shorten and the air is colder. Their chlorophyll stops flowing and the leaves slowly change color. Despite what you think, the winds don't grab the leaves off the trees. The trees themselves throw off their leaves like a winter coat. As the days shorten, trees send a signal to the spot where the leaves are attached. The spot where the leaves are attached to the branches are sealed. No fluid can get in or out and the leaves are dropped by the tree. Result? Naked trees.

This whole magical process doesn't happen just so that you can venture out on color tours. The tree instinctively knows that it needs to protect itself in order to battle the cold and snow. The chemicals that were flowing to the leaves are diverted to the tree roots to fortify the entire root system and in the spring, the tree. The bottom line? Being bare is a good thing!

Photo courtesy of Theen via Compfight


I LOVE how the face of leadership has evolved over the years. I remember years ago when I joined a management training program with a local bank right out of college. Back then leaders thought that they needed to act "leaderly". They were more stoic, more commanding, and everyone was expected to follow them (plus most were men!). Input wasn't generally solicited or wanted. They had the final word. Times have changed. Leaders today seek input, show empathy, are more servant leaders than commanders. They see the benefits of empathy. In short, our leaders today are human. We all want to work with or for people who act like us. No matter where you lead from or whom you lead - Don't be afraid to "bare" yourself to people and act human.

What does it mean to be a "bare leader"? It means NOT being afraid to show empathy and emotion. It means being authentic and "you". It means being a servant leader rather than a commander. It means being yourself while earning your leadership title. It means encouraging and empowering people to grow and want to follow you. In short:

Don't be afraid to bare yourself!

  • Don't think that hiding emotion is what leaders do. Bottling feelings up and acting stoic doesn't make anyone a hero. It makes you look weak and pushes people away.
  • People smell fake a mile away. Too much sugar coating and BS WILL be evident. Is it worth it?
  • People want the bare truth. They don't want weak answers or any beating around the bush tactics. You end up clouding situations and making rash decisions in the long run. Being authentic and true eliminates issues that you can avoid.
  • In connecting, speaking, writing, life, HOW you say something if far more important than what you say. How many times have you written or read an email and it's how the information was relayed? It threw you into an emotional tail spin, not what was said. I just had this last week!  
  • Baring your true self really does build trust, strengthen relationships, and help others relate to you.
  • Leaders build vision. Vision takes skill and really jumping into the minds of your people. You can't do that without getting to know them and gaining joint trust.
  • Sharing emotions really goes a long way towards influencing how people think, behave, and react. This also intertwines with your vision creating.
  • Show your passion. Share your frustrations. People want to know that you too have doubts, fears, ideas, and don't know everything.
  • Strong leaders know that showing their real self will help groups bond together to find solutions or make change. You don't want to provide all the answers. Truthfully, you need your people more than they need you. Without them, there is no growth or passion to push on to grow and achieve.
Don't try to go it alone in life. Rely on others and "bare" your authentic self. When you show those Cub Scouts how passionate you are about climbing an obstacle wall but confident in them and that YOU are scared, they will relate and try harder. They will feed on your passion and confidence in them to scrabble right up that wall. When tough department choices have to be made, be truthful and share your indecisiveness to allow your team to give input and work through it. They are closest to the situation. 

Be human. Bare yourself. It's OK