I had the honor and great pleasure of speaking to a group of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy last week. I don’t use the word “honor” lightly. I told them I work every day with current leaders, but rarely get the opportunity to work with future leaders. They were a brilliant audience and their enthusiastic service to our country is genuinely humbling and worthy of our deepest appreciation.
I spoke about the 4 tenets of “Leading as an Introvert,” and I told the Midshipmen the first is the most critical: honoring who you are in every moment.
We talked about how introverts should honor their introversion and not try to act like extroverts in order to succeed as leaders. Rather, they should be true to themselves and leverage their unique and invaluable introverted strengths to succeed, no matter what they choose to do in the world. Because the truth is, when you give yourself permission to be more of who you are meant to be and less of who you are not, you empower yourself as an individual and as a leader.
This self-empowerment that comes from honoring your truth is actually quite freeing. You can stop trying to act in ways that don’t fit with who you are, and discover the power in simply being yourself. Since, at its root, honor is about respect and a code of conduct that encourages emulation, honoring who you are in every moment sets an example of self-empowerment for others to emulate. I would argue that a fully-empowered team would be unstoppable.
The Power of Authenticity
As a leader, what comes from honoring your truth is authenticity. I realize this is becoming an overused word but it’s just so critical in leadership. For only by being truly authentic will your followers be able to trust you. If they think you’re “faking it” in any way, they’ll mistrust your motives and will lose respect. Success as a leader starts with a foundation of trust between leader and follower. Developing these trusting relationships is one of the essential roles of a leader, and a sign of honoring your teams and followers as individuals.
From the Root of Trust Blooms Action
Once team members are fully able to trust their leader, they are then psychologically and emotionally able to open themselves up to being inspired and motivated by the leader. From there, they’re moved to action.
And all of this starts with honoring yourself and your truth, and then honoring others in turn.
What do you think? Please join me and my talented Leadership Chat Co-Host Steve Woodruff Tuesday evening, April 17th, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time on Twitter as we host a global conversation on “Leading with Honor!” Put #LeadershipChat in your tweets so they show up as part of the discussion. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
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Being an introvert is truly an advantage in business and leadership if you know how to leverage it, and if you remain true to yourself.