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Don’t let anyone make you feel you are ‘not enough’!

Building your own ‘who’ as a woman leader

During the recent months I have been focusing a lot on high potentials at their first leadership position – young professionals who are recruited because of their high technical expertise and who get promoted to managing a team.

Out of the young professionals I have had the pleasure to work with, there is one case which I truly treasure and through which I am learning a lot.

Paola is a young woman in her thirties extremely dedicated to her job, hard-working and very reliable. With an international background, she is creative and passionate. Some months ago she was promoted head of a new function leading a team of people and reporting to a new boss. We met by chance one day at a breakfast table in an Arabic style hotel in Sicily where we were both on holiday.

I soon had the sensation that she needed to speak to someone, ventilate her worries. So we sat down and spoke. She shared her struggles in juggling with priorities at work and at home, pressures from the top and her admiration for her boss whom she respected because of his ‘confidence and enigmatic charisma’.

She then shared the challenges she was facing with her team ‘not respecting her and de-energising her’ almost working against her, rather than for her. In her description of her boss, Paola shifted a lot from deep admiration to frustration – he represented a model of what she felt she wanted to become. In exploring this 2-facet relationship of love and hate she had a sudden epiphany and said:

‘I never feel enough in front of him. I believe I owe him something because I am learning a lot from him and I would not be in the position I am if it wasn’t for him. Having said this, I always feel I am not given a chance to get my voice heard’.

I therefore asked her: Where does this sensation of ‘not being enough’ come from?

‘From the sense of gratitude I have for him but also from the sensation that everything that he does and says is right and that any alternatives I may suggest would not be equally good’.

So I prompted her and asked: Does he represent a model of what you aspire to become or of whom you would like to become?

Her answer: I admire the ‘what’ but I believe I can do better in the ‘who’.

Paola realised that her admiration was for her boss’s competence and knowledge.  In her attitude towards him, she kept passively accepting everything he would say or do never questioning whether there were better or new ways. She also realised that this was massively impacting on her credibility towards her team who kept bypassing her because of her inability to provide confidence and a sense of direction.

Gently but consistently, Paola started asking herself: what can I add to what my boss says or does? What can I do to make sure I feel good enough? How can I learn from his competence and knowledge?

But especially: How can I build my personal style?

Paola’s journey of self-discovery as a woman leader has just started. There are ups and downs but there is a renewed motivation and energy in her.

Her priority now is not to prove to her boss that she is enough but to give herself the chance to discover what is unique about her. She has realised that by exploring who she wants to become as an authentic leader she is not ‘copying and pasting’ but she is believing in what she does and whom she represents.

Paola is realising that it is normal not to be liked by everybody. She has also realised that she does not want  to be made to feel ‘not good enough’.

Her journey into ‘who’ she is as an integrated adult woman is priceless and is making her realise that by building her own ‘who’ she feels much less intimated by the ‘what’.

Join the discussion on this post on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dont-let-anyone-make-you-feel-enough-marianna-amy-crestani/
VUCA

VUCA is your best ally!

WHAT DOES VUCA mean? The term VUCA was created by the United States Army War College to describe the state of the world after the Cold War. The simple clash of capitalist and communist systems was replaced by multiple threats from unpredictable rogue states and terrorist threats. The term has since been adopted by the business community to describe how security, predictability and simple cause and effect relationships have been replaced by turbulence, unpredictability and rapid change. Some of the trends driving VUCA for business include the shift in economic power from West to East, demographic change, the disruptive rise of digital technologies, as well as continuing globalisation. These forces affect every organisation in some way.  In other words, VUCA has become the new normal.

Every time I mention the word VUCA in my coaching sessions or in conversations with clients I see a lot of head nodding. It is always welcomed by signs of relief and phrases like: ‘So, it is not only me! It is not just my personal perception!’

If VUCA is the ‘illness’ then the discovery phase of understanding the symptoms for the person includes coming across sensations as: feeling overwhelmed, being in a state of paralysis and anxiety, sensing heaviness and alienation.  Fire-fighting and riding the waves of constant high-pressure states are the normal reaction to VUCA. ‘As long as my body and my mind can take it, I will carry on’. This is what I hear again and again.

Then THE question is asked: ‘What is the solution? What can I do?’

Unfortunately (or fortunately!) VUCA is not an illness and there is no straightforward solution. But what about looking at it from a different perspective?  

Stability feels good. Operating within comfort zones is reassuring.  Following rules is comfortable and easy. But does VUCA really require us to completely give up stability? I don’t think so…I believe that what it does is that it makes us find a safe enough level of stability within ourselves. In other terms, it forces us to counterbalance the fast-moving pace of change by consciously taking time to reflect over what we are and where we want to go.

In other words, VUCA invites us to really be serious about self-discovery and self-awareness because the most authentic representation of VUCA is the human being. Coming to terms with the fact that VUCA is not an external negative reality but an extension of our normal self allows to make a significant shift of perspective and see VUCA as an ally instead of an enemy to destroy.

So, my question is:

How can you transform your inner VUCA into your permanent and conscious strength that can really help you make a difference in leading yourself and, therefore, others?

Join the discussion on this post on Linkedin: https://lnkd.in/e8a_STd
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