If you have kids, eventually there will come a time when you recognize yourself in them. They’ll say something, make a reference, or demonstrate a habit that they clearly picked up from you. At first, it’s cute and ego boosting, then suddenly it turns terrifying. Oh crap, they watch everything I do and say. That nice safe haven of home is now a stage and the show runs 24/7.
As your career progresses, the same thing happens at work. You, your decisions, your actions, your non-actions, and everything in between are constantly on display for emulation, judgement, learning, confirmation bias, and the like. Super fun, right? No, this shit stresses me out. I already have enough of my own insecurities and imposter syndrome that haunt my thoughts. If I know people are watching my every move just because I’m the boss, they’re going to find out that I don’t know what I’m doing! Remember that bitchy resting face that started in high school and eventually you came to embrace it and make it a joke? Well, now if you’re not careful, someone’s going to see it and think the company is in trouble, or you’re going to fire them, or who knows what else. Think pleasant thoughts Lauren. Keep that bitchy resting face at bay. No one told me that being a parent or a leader of people consisted of mostly being in your own head managing the emotions of yourself and others. This is a constant struggle, but here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way.
- Suck it up. You’re the boss and you can’t have a bad day. My husband so lovingly reminds me every once in a while to get over myself and it hurts so good. You wanted to be the boss, so be excited! You are now the difference maker in other people’s lives. Set the example you wish you would’ve had.
- Find a reality check buddy. You need someone at work that you trust to keep it real with you. Who’s going to tell you you’re emoting your bad day?
- Pick a uniform. I’ve noticed that my mood can get projected in my outfits and people notice. If you wear the same thing, or things all the time, talk and speculation goes away from your wardrobe and back to more important things.
- Morning commute with positivity. Get your brain prepped for positivity by listening to audio-books, podcasts, or even your favorite uplifting music. Save the calls for when you’re in the office.
- Shut your door. If you need to get stuff done, get it done. The open-door policy has become more of a cliché than a useful tactic. If you want to invite people in to say hello, then open your door or better yet, go walk around. If you have work to do, shut it and get to it.
- Put a mirror in your office by your door. It’ll make you remember to smile!
- If you’re not feeling it, reschedule. If you can’t give your best, then don’t give it. You’ll do less damage rescheduling than running a half-assed meeting where you’re cranky.
- Show up early and stay until the end. Every day, every meeting, every event.
- Remember there is no perfect. Don’t try to emulate perfect. Let people see your struggles, your learning, and your vulnerability. If they’re already watching, then let them learn the things that will help them.
- Cut yourself some slack. If you’ve read even this far, you clearly care about being a good leader. That mindset alone will ensure you’re on the right path.