As a leader, you’re never “off stage”

I know this may sound like common sense, but even the best of us forget it. Or we forget to teach our mentees this lesson.

I was serving on a Board of Directors and was one of three Board members running for President, elected by fellow Board members, not the membership at large. In the 5 years I’d served, I became good friends with many of the Board members. When we got together twice a year, we went around the table at dinner and shared something happening in our personal lives.

Most people shared something they were excited about with their family — generally, kids or grandkids. Since I have neither, I shared about something fun going on personally, often about my boyfriend-de-jour.

I was running for President for the second time. I lost again, to a very capable and deserving member. Although I highly respected the winner, I was a bit taken aback, as I’d been on the Board longer, had served in more leadership positions, and had a much longer leadership resume.

When I asked my closest friends to ferret out why people didn’t vote for me, the reason quoted most was some felt my discussing my dating was unseemly, although I was careful to keep my comments “G-rated.” I was thinking I was among friends so could let my hair down a bit. They, however, were observing me as someone who could be the president of the organization. They saw my playfulness and candor as un-presidential.

The lesson is when among those who can help determine your future, don’t let your guard down. Be friendly and helpful, but still professional. You never know who is watching — even if they are a peer or subordinate, they could report to and influence those who are making the decision to promote or groom you for bigger things.

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One Comment on “As a leader, you’re never “off stage””

  1. Glenn Bishop Says:

    What a great post. More magicians and entertainers should be reading things like this. My parents used to tell me that most people think the show starts at the agreed upon time.

    But really, the show starts when the car leaves the driveway. Because like you said, when you are in front of people – they will judge you.

    Thanks for writing this and I just came by to tell you I think your blog is great. keep up the great work.

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