Pandemic or not – part of being a leader is facing challenges. And for many women leaders, there also comes some degree of soul-searching. Am I the most effective leader I could be? What more could I be doing? It’s a healthy part of being a leader…unless it’s not.
A recent article in Fortune about Elizabeth Holmes, former Theranos CEO, brought this into startling focus. It describes how during Elizabeth’s trial for criminal fraud, a note surfaced that she had handwritten to herself. In this note, she details what expectations she has of her behavior and leadership style as CEO. It includes such items as “I am always proactive.” “I show no excitement.” “I do not hesitate.” “I am never a minute late.” The list is long and gives the impression that whoever Elizabeth Holmes was on the inside, she worked very hard to keep that from showing.
Reading that made me feel so grateful for the era of authentic leadership we may now be in. What a relief it is to bring your whole self to your role. Maybe part of that has come from wrestling with unusual circumstances or or finding ways to lead even when working from home. In virtual meetings, the doorbell may ring, our children may interrupt, our dogs may bark. In fact, in some of our AWESOME team Zoom meetings, our dogs have barked at each other.
During the past year, as leaders allowing ourselves to be authentic as we deal with unprecedented situations, we’ve been able to show sincere concern for our employees as they reveal their genuine selves. We’ve added a focus on well-being to our ongoing attention to employee health and safety. We’ve been able to express that we may not have all the answers. And we’ve been able to connect with each other to explore our common challenges in ways we never did before. We have enjoyed every minute of getting to know AWESOME leaders! And that will continue!