5 steps to being your authentic self and leading from your genius

Do you ever feel like you have to leave your personality at home and become a bland, boring robot in order to succeed as a leader?

I’ve been there. Back when I started working for myself, I thought success would come from being exactly like everyone else. Since I believed that I had to be uber-professional to get clients, I watched others carefully and tried to copy them.

I wanted to keep my clients happy, so I avoided disagreeing with them-- even when I could see problems with their approaches.

Pretending to be someone I was not worked in the short term. My business thrived, but over time I lost the joy in what I was doing. The magic I used to bring to organisations just wasn’t as potent anymore. I had become a generic vanilla ice cream cone instead of my awesome, quirky caramel-cookie dough self. That wasn’t fair to me OR my clients, who were missing out on my unique genius and perspective.

I realised that the things that make me ‘me’ - being open about my journey, putting people first and business second, refusing to step away from having people right at the centre, looking for the best in everything, wearing my heart on my sleeve, and even making terrible dad jokes (um… mum jokes?) was what made me successful in the first place

It’s so liberating to know that people want to hire me BECAUSE I’M ME. Bringing my true self to my business is a tremendous asset. There are many other consultants who specialise in culture building and leadership, but none of them has my exact experience, personality and strengths.

There are also lots of other people who do what you do. But no one else is YOU. Your magic lies in leading from your own genius, from embracing the things that make you ‘you’.

In order to bring your authentic self to your work, you need to do these four things:

  1. Act with courage in being uniquely you.

  2. Lead from your strengths.

  3. Learn from others but stay true to your own style.

  4. Never forget that you are a human first, and a business person second.

My amazing client Claire (name changed) realised these truths through a leadership development programme with me. She was able to step into her strengths and lead with confidence. After spending years worrying about her flaws, she realised that she could actually start leading from right where she was right then.

As she said, “I’m grateful to Mel for teaching me that leaders don’t need to be perfect”.

You see, none of us is perfect, but we are perfectly us.

So, how can you start leading from YOUR unique genius? Here are five practical steps that you can take right now to learn more about your genius and start leading from it

  1. Ask five people who know you well the following questions:

  • How would you describe me when I’m at my best?

  • How do I make your life better?

  • In your opinion, what are my greatest strengths?

You may be surprised with the insights you gain from these conversations! Often, the people around you can see your genius more clearly than you can.

  1. Reflect on the things that you do better than most people, and the things that give you energy. For example, I’m passionate about developing leaders - I’m better at it than most people, and it energizes me and fills my cup. Find ways to do more of these things and build on your strengths. Also think about the things that you are not so good at and that sap your energy. Aim to do less of these!

  2. Express more of your personality in your work. Don’t feel like you have to go “full noise” on this. If you feel you are currently at 30% “you” at work, then start by amping that up to 60%. I like avoiding black shoes, giving high fives, and telling corny jokes. Consider how you can bring out more of your personality!

  3. Consider what you want to be known for. Above all, I want to be known for kindness, authenticity, and positivity. What do YOU want to be known for? By keeping this front and centre, you will have your own North Star to guide you in leading from your genius.

  4. Take this 1-minute quiz to discover what leader shares your genius and get even more ideas on how to lead in a uniquely-you way. Whether you agree or disagree with your result, use it as a springboard for some creative thinking!

At the end of the day, business is truly about humans-- quirky, insecure, vulnerable humans-- making life better for our fellow humans. Don’t ever feel like you have to hide who you are in order to achieve as a leader. Your true, authentic self is your power and your greatest gift to others. Step into your genius and share it with the world!

Mel Rowsell