Recently, during a coaching session with a client of mine, as we dug deep into what was holding her back from dealing with a conflict that was getting out of hand in her department; it came out…
“Dion, they already think I’m a Bitch!”
Her words hung heavy in the atmosphere as we paused to let them sink in. We both knew instantly that this one thought was at the root of everything this brilliant leader had been struggling with for months!.
Do you suspect or actually know that the people you lead, work with or those you most want to influence think you are a bitch, or aloof, or not up to the job in some way?
I have hard time believing those women that say I don’t care what people think about me because I have seen all too often that beneath those brave words and stern attitude is a very different reality.
Don’t you want to be liked, accepted and understood?
It’s a sad fact that being misunderstood, misjudged and misrepresented is a common secondary consequence of senior leadership. Over the years I have supported women leaders who struggle to varying degrees with what people think about them. I too am still personally connected to this struggle myself.
In this article I share with you my thoughts on the matter in the hope that you are inspired encouraged and better equipped to handle this challenge should you face it anytime soon
1. You are the one in the seat!
You are the one in the seat! The fact that you have the position and they don’t is an indication that YOU, and particularly you have something to offer that position. Get your note book out and reconnect with what you bring to the table and then resolve to bring it with all your might – resist the temptation to focus on what you don’t have, take inventory of what you DO and showcase that like there’s no tomorrow.
2. Remember they are entitled to their opinion
Remember they are entitled to their opinion, whether they tell you what they think to your face or if you’ve picked it up some other way, think of it as just feedback. There are a couple of things that are important here
Feedback is the breakfast of champions we’ve heard that, But here’s something we often forget, feedback tells you only about the person giving it – it is NOT about you at all! Your job as the one receiving the feedback is to decide whether or not you want to make adjustments in your own being, in your own showing up, in your own personal presence. In response to their perception
You need to sift through the feedback and ask “Do I want to shift in order to better engage with people who share this view, OR NOT?” And that’s it! That’s what feedback allows you to consider…
Does their opinion matter? If you work with them and they are part of making the mission or the vision happen, then I’m guessing YES their opinion of you does matter especially if it affects your working relationship
That leads me to number three, I ALWAYS encourage and support my clients to not just brush it under the carpet and soldier on as though you you didn’t hear it…
3. Address it: Explore it think about what they are saying. I say confront their naysayer directly…
Now you don’t have to charge in red faced and angry or all guns blazing ready for a showdown! What I am suggesting is that it’s worth your while to be genuinely interested in whether you are, first of all, right about your assumption of what they think about you; and if you are right, WHY they think that.
It’s so common for the root of the negativity to be established in misunderstanding, some insecurity, or hearsay or misinterpretation that can be cleared up when there is a desire and the space to talk it through properly so BE COURAGEOUS – CONFRONT IT!
4. Be a proud learner and always be learning
You know, I’ve got a theory that “ I don’t know” are three of the most feared words in the marketplace. Refuse to buy in to the lies that as senior leader, you need to have it all together, you need to know everything and you need to be faultless and exempt of making mistakes.
Own your entitlement to be on a development and evolutionary journey yourself
Own it proudly own it loudly and most importantly, own it very visibly…
You have a right to be growing still you have a right to be on a life and leadership journey
Own your development needs, you ARE allowed to have them as a senior leader. Resist the pit of pretending that you aren’t afraid, unsure, uneasy and unclear sometimes. Make it clear that you aren’t the leader because you get it right all the time, you’re the leader because you are YOU with a whole of lot to bring to the mission.
So there you have it, resist treating other people’s opinions of you as though it were the truth – what they think is really none of your business unless you choose to make it so!
Dion Johnson, an ex midwife and senior team leader in the NHS is an expert supporter of women leaders. Her work as a Women’s Leadership Development Consultant and Speaker is rooted in the belief that when women lead from a place of feminine authenticity, they increase in influence, impact and capacity to change our world through their work. She says “This is a big deal, No woman should be without exceptional, professional, ‘behind the mask’ support to show up for real in the senior leadership space ”
Dion offers bespoke coaching and consulting packages to midlife women in senior leadership and her second book, “The Way Of The Lady ChangeMaker: Four essentialcommitments to make if you’re serious about making a difference in your forties fifties and beyond” will be published autumn 2015.
To Talk to Dion about your leadership support needs email Dion directly at [email protected]
See website www.DionJohnson.com