Welcome to another Ask Katrina. The question today is:
“Katrina, how do I influence others as an executive when I don’t want people to know everything about me?”
This question could originate from, “I have a case of impostor syndrome and I don’t want people to find out something about me.”
But it could also come from the place of simply wanting to keep portions of yourself and your life private and separate from work.
Whether it’s imposter syndrome or privacy, both are 100% normal.
Let’s start by understanding where these emotions come from.
We all inherently have pieces within us that we believe aren’t great, we believe aren’t the best, we look at ourselves in the mirror, and we find the flaws.
If you’re a high-achieving, high-performing female leader, you look for falsity and problems over the positive. Not because you are a negative person, but because this view has helped you become successful.
You became an executive because you can quickly identify the gaps, the problems, and the issues within the business space.
So naturally, we’re going to look at ourselves, and we’re gonna think, “Oh, I can always be better.”
“I can always do this more.”
So the imposter syndrome will come from this mindset.
The other promotions that we’ve had as we’ve been climbing the ladder involved personal and professional growth but that growth was manageable.
As a new exec, the growth demands are significantly larger. Combine these demands with “I can always be better” and this is how the imposter syndrome comes into play.
But what if your concern isn’t imposter syndrome?
What if you simply want to keep pieces of yourself private or separate from work?
Now, there are a lot of reasons for wanting this space or separation.
While we technically bring our whole selves to work, we can intentionally decide what we share and what we don’t.
We’ve all seen leaders, and we’ve worked with individuals who have shared way too much.
They’ve become friends with everybody, they share everything about their personal lives, and it makes it very, very difficult to have a level of respect and even a level of trust in their judgment.
We definitely don’t want to be those individuals.
So recognize that we already have a line between personal and professional.
And we each get to decide not only where that line is, but we can move that line whenever we choose.
You Can Still Influence with a Line Between Personal and Professional
Now, let’s be clear, whether I have impostor syndrome or don’t want to bring all of my personal self to work, either way, I still have to perform as an executive.
This means I must have the ability to influence others.
Execs get things done through influence.
If I’m going to show up and effectively influence and communicate, I have to build rapport.
I also have to build trust.
The way in which those things are built is through connection.
It’s the “You’re like me, I’m like you so therefore I like you and trust you” concept that drives rapport and therefore trust and both of those give you the ability to influence others.
But when we don’t want to bring all of ourselves to work, we tend to close ourselves off and prevent a connection.
Now let’s be clear. You are not obligated to share 100% of yourself.
No one should have full access to your life unless you actively choose to allow that to happen.
You are in control of that.
From illness to divorce, to intimate relationships, to family history, you decide what you share and don’t share about yourself.
Once you make the decision on what to share and not to share, then you must make another decision.
You must decide that even though you know you’re reserving parts of yourself for “outside of work only” relationships, you cannot allow this knowledge to distance you from the individuals at work.
What I want you to understand is that no one knows that there’s something personal that you don’t want to share except you.
Number two, decide what you’re comfortable sharing, decide what you’re willing to share, and go share it.
Talk about things that you feel safe talking about.
The topics that are off limits, they’re off limits, and you just simply divert the conversation if it comes up.
The point and what I see happening is we think everyone else can see our fear or they know we are keeping something private.
This simply isn’t true.
Then we become so focused on people finding out what we don’t want them to find out, we shut down and we don’t build rapport.
We can’t avoid having conversations.
We must find a middle ground and have pre-determined personal topics we will freely discuss.
Find the balance.
That’s the answer.
If you want to chat through it, please send me an email (info@legend leaders.com) and I will send you my calendar link.
Know that you can navigate this successfully and be a top-performing executive!