Can the people you lead recognize themselves in you?

mirrorIf they can’t, they have much less reason to follow you, or to really look to you for leadership. In a very real way, you represent what they can become. You have the opportunity to model their future for them, and in a sense, act as a bridge to that future. Though this may sound mysterious, it’s not. People are always able to recognize themselves in you when you’re willing to show them who you really are. That’s not to say what you show them will be a lot like them or even a little like them, nor is it to say you have to be “pals” with them. When someone in authority reveals him or herself to be authentic enough and trusting enough to share who he or she really is, the result is an invitation to join them in authenticity. This may not sound like something of value, but think about the energy it takes to work in an environment where you feel you have to hide some part of who you really are. This isn’t the kind of environment where people are most fully engaged or able to contribute their best. Now think about working in the sort of environment where you feel completely comfortable bringing who you really are to work. In the same way it costs energy to hide who you are, when you’re able to share who you really are, a tremendous amount of energy is made available for immediate use. This is an example of something that, though it may be hard to quantify, is undeniable when experienced.