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May 25, 2019 | 04:24 AM
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26.04.2013Be Brave, Be Honest: What Leadership Looks Like From Here On Out

Because being honest about what you fear is essential to real change.


Erika Andersen, Forbes.com

This week three colleagues and I are conducting a five-day leadership and management intensive called Rising Leaders.  We created it seven years ago for WICT (Women in Cable Telecommunications), the premier association for women in the cable industry, and we conduct it for them a few times a year.  The attendees are high-potential mid-level women leaders in the cable industry who have been nominated by their organizations and then go through WICT’s rigorous selection process.

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They’re wonderful.  I have the great pleasure, as part of my role in the program, to have one-on-one “mini” coaching sessions with most of the 60 women who participate. Listening to them  and working with each of them makes me feel hopeful for the future. I am entirely certain that some, perhaps many of these women will become C-level executives in major corporations before they retire, and that American business will be the better for it.

One of the things I find most inspiring and heartening about them is their willingness to be honest about themselves: their hopes and fears; what they’re good at and not so good at; what they understand and what confuses them.

While I was thinking about this tonight, I read a truly insightful, accurate and articulate post by Glen Llopis, 5 Things Leaders Are Thinking, but Not Talking About.  He offers five topics that make most leaders feel uncomfortable (the limitations of their own knowledge, the younger generation, diversity, the future, and their own relevance)  - and notes how we tend to ignore or avoid those topics, rather than exploring and becoming comfortable with them.  One of my favoriate passages in Glen’s post: Leaders must be more proactive in coming to grips with today’s new normal…they must face their greatest fears head-on and get on with the business at hand.”

That’s what I’m loving most about these Rising Leaders: they’re facing their fears head-on, and it’s allowing them not only to get on with the business at hand, but positioning them for success in this world as it continues to unfold at lightning speed.

Because being honest about what you fear is essential to real change.

If you can be unflinchingly honest in saying “I don’t know this,” or “I’m worried I won’t be able to do that,” or “that makes me uncomfortable,” you can be brave enough to move into that awkward place of exploration where you’re trying something new; the novice phase that’s part of all true growth.

And finally, you can be brave enough to keep going when you’re in the ‘not-good’ part of learning new things and break through: into new knowledge, new capability, new comfort.  For a leader in the 21st century, that’s critical. Avoiding the things you fear simply won’t work, if you want to lead people into the future that’s before us.  There’s just way too much that’s new and untried for you to be successful staying in your comfort zone.

Be brave. Be honest.


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