The messy-middle! – II

The kind of attitude you develop towards yourself determines how you will lead your career, your teams, and your professional as well as personal relationships.

At a recent workshop that I happened to attend, I saw the trainer encouraging the members to pat themselves on their back for their commitment to the program and their active participation. Initially, I felt odd doing it and then as I pat myself, I suddenly felt energised and proud of my contribution during the day. This small act made me pause and reflect.

When was the last you patted yourself for what you have done well? What stops you from praising yourself?

If you want to get out of the messy-middle and hone your executive presence, the first step has to begin by looking inwards.

And that is the thing – we often end up judging ourselves harshly.

We are either comparing ourselves with others and/or chasing perfectionism that only delays the start of action. Imposter syndrome wherein a person self-doubts his/her accomplishments and skills is all pervasive. It raises its ugly head most when you find yourself in a new job or with a new task or in a new environment. You suddenly get overwhelmed with it all. At such times, we forget that we all have our inner resources and strengths to fall back upon, successful examples to pull out and look into the mirror, and yes, pat ourselves.

If it is not the self, then it is aspect of work-life balance that threatens performance at the messy-middle. For women especially, being surrounded by work both at the professional and personal front, often makes them not step up to take larger risks. The yearning for stability becomes paramount and there is a constant inner chatter and self-retrospection on how to stay calm under pressure.

The ‘being in the moment’ and present in the situation calls for a lot of effort from women who are in the mid-career phase of their lives. Adjusting one’s mindset as per the situation and environment at such becomes very important.

Our feelings and emotions play a big role in how we react or respond to a particular situation. Being aware of your feelings at a particular moment is the first step towards acknowledging them. The next step is to use those emotions to make the right choice. Of course, it is best to wait for those impulsive feelings of anger or the feelings of desolation to dissipate before you make a decision. Becoming aware of your emotions and using them intelligently to achieve what you wish to is a continuous process. Embrace your feelings and understand they are signals and not directives.

Once you are aware of your emotions and understand what makes you react the way you do, you can keep an eye out for those triggers and be kind to your own self. It is then time to step up the ladder.

Leadership presence is deeper than executive presence. Be aware of your leadership style. How do you come across? Today’s uncertain environment calls for leaders to be vulnerable and authentic. To be a true leader you need to be ready to embrace failures and then even celebrate them.

Acknowledge what you do not know. It is a myth that leaders or for that matter anyone, is supposed to know everything. Asking for information and help does not make a leader look inadequate or a dimwit. On the contrary, the leader comes across as confident and sure of his/her own capabilities and understanding of what works best. A leader is a fusion of confidence, courage, vulnerability, kindness, and much more.

How you are inside and how your come across will in the end define your presence and aura.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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