Don’t shy away from bringing your entire self to work – and sharing who you are beyond your professional persona. Emphasize your humanity with vulnerability and humility to promote collaboration and inspire others to do the same.
I believe that in today’s environment, there is an appreciation more than ever for employees to bring their entire selves to work – and this is especially true for senior management. An organization typically wants to know what makes their leaders tick, what they’re passionate about, the personal interests they have, and anything about their family and past experiences they are willing to share. I also think it’s important for a CEO to acknowledge that they are not the smartest person in the room on every topic. A successful leader relies on the knowledge and expertise of the team around them.
Personally, I make it a point to lay my own less than perfect qualities on the table right from the start. Whenever I introduce myself to a new team, I enjoy seeing their reaction after I share one of my perceived imperfections – for example, the fact that I tend to talk a lot as I process information. Admittedly, if I’m too busy broadcasting, I know there’s a good chance I can monopolize the forum and miss valuable opportunities to listen and learn. The good news is I’m also very self-aware of this trait and instead of hiding it or feeling ashamed, I lead with it. Hierarchy can stifle innovation, particularly at fast-moving tech companies, and when leaders display vulnerability and humility it flattens an organization and encourages collaboration and trust.
As I reflect on my experiences on the river, it’s evident to me how many of these same leadership principles apply. For those who’ve never tried it, fly-fishing is a very systematic and process-driven sport – from the way you cast your rod, to the flies you choose for bait, to the watery spot you decide to wade into. It requires endless amounts of patience and perspective. It’s also a good test of personality, because every angler knows the best-laid plans are not always fruitful and how you adapt and embrace humility can greatly determine your success. I may go fly fishing to unplug and find solitude, but it’s also primed my passion for being a life-long learner, whether I’m navigating the unpredictable waters of a riverbed or the unpredictability of leading a performance-driven, purpose-oriented company.