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Posted on September 18, 2018

When someone is heading into a job interview, one of the most frequent pieces of advice people will give them is, “Just be yourself!” And that’s good advice; much has been written about the importance of being yourself, especially if you want to be an effective team member and an effective leader. The real purpose of this concept is to highlight the importance of being both authentic and vulnerable when interacting with others—people don’t follow insincere or robotic leaders.

At the same time, we have also seen leaders justify their harsh or insensitive behavior with statements like, “I’m just being real,” or, “That’s just the way I am.” This isn’t good either, because people won’t follow a leader who doesn’t seem to care about how they impact others.

What we have here is what could be seen as a paradox, or dichotomy, if you will…

Be yourself. Be real. Be transparent… but communicate in a way that maximizes connection, relational influence and outcomes.

In reality, a good leader must ethically adjust his or her style and communication in the right way at the right time according to the needs of the audience.

We need to be authentic and vulnerable, yet also discerning enough to know to how to leverage diplomacy for a greater outcome. This is why leadership is as much an art as it is a science—a balancing act of being true to who you are while adjusting to those around you. In order to get that equation just right, you need to understand your natural tendencies.

To much you or not enough?

If you’re most likely to think or say, “This is just the way I am and others need to accept that,” you struggle with too-much-you.

If you’re most likely to hear someone else say, “We just want to see and hear from the real you,” or “it’s hard to connect with you” you are on the not-enough-you side of the fence.

Finding your sweet spot

Here are three steps you can take to find just enough-you

1) Establish a growth mindset.

The better you become the easier it is to just be you. Create a daily personal goal of growth. Many leaders feel they need to “have arrived.” The best leaders know they will never arrive; they just need to grow today. Consider developing a personal growth plan for the next year.

2) Increase self-awareness.

The most effective leaders are the most self-aware leaders. They are willing to go through the humbling process of pinpointing their blind spots. After all, you can’t manage something you can’t see. Consider a quality 360° assessment to gather input from the people around you.

3) Develop your emotional intelligence.

Studies have shown that IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a 7-14% predictor of success in any given job function. EQ (Emotional Quotient), on the other hand, has been shown to be up to a 45% predictor of success in any given job function. It’s even more important the higher you go in leadership. I use and recommend the EQi-2.0 Assessment (there is also a 360 version) which can help you measure and assess the key success factors related to emotional intelligence.

So today in your leadership, be yourself! You do you…just be sure YOU don’t get in the way of the success of your team!

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