One of the great mistakes of leadership is putting walls up to block people out of our real lives and our real selves. We don’t let them in.
One of the reasons for that is somewhat understandable: we’ve been burnt before by people we trusted. We don’t want people to see our weaknesses and don’t want them to see where we’ve been hurt or broken….we want to be, or at least be perceived as strong and confident.
The irony is that most people want to see and know the real you, warts and all! They want to know you are real, have issues and struggles just like the rest of us. They want to know you’re a human being.
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard (and said myself) “He’s a regular guy!” or “She’s the real deal!” when commenting about how surprised they are about a particular leader. It may be the CEO who talks about how she overcame adversity and bias, or maybe how she, as the oldest in the family and had to take care of her brothers and sisters because both of her parents worked. It could be a Pastor who talks about how when he was younger struggled with addiction. It could be your boss who admits that he’s not really sure how the CEO feels about him.
When we as leaders admit to our real-life struggles, and let into our lives the people we lead, they don’t lose respect for us, but we gain respect. We become a living example to them of how we all face struggles and issues, and how we deal with those issues. It shows those we lead that yes, I have issues, but in the midst of my issues, in the midst of my struggles, I can also lead.
When we let them in, we become a team of broken people, leading other broken people to contribute in the midst of their brokenness. Letting them in brings them all together—and you are part of them—and they are part of you.
So, let them in.