Around a decade ago, I found myself in a nerve-wracking scenario 😨. I was to present before the Managing Canadian Partner for IBM Consulting and her esteemed senior executive leadership team. As a senior leader within the consulting division, I garnered a reputation as a reliable program delivery executive. My capability to drive business results was widely trusted. My zeal towards ensuring the triumph of my clients and boosting the organizational outcome was always beyond 100%.
However, a deeper reflection revealed that my relentless pursuit was fueled more by my ego rather than altruism. I yearned for recognition, to be acknowledged as a remarkable leader, the caped crusader 🦸 who swoops in to salvage the day. This desire propelled me to set unattainable objectives which eventually extracted a heavy toll on my well-being, plunging me into the abyss of burnout and exhaustion repeatedly. 😩
On D-day, my anxiety spiked as my turn, among a lineup of over ten senior leaders, inched closer. We were to exhibit our proposals derived from an employee engagement initiative, a venture in which we had invested long hours in the preceding months. We were allocated a stringent five-minute slot, to present our recommendations and field questions. The standard protocol involved leveraging a designated slide template. However, a rebel thought had seeded itself in my mind in the days prior.
As each preceding leader walked through their polished slide presentations, my pulse raced. I had deviated from the norm, deciding to share a heartfelt narrative instead. This surreptitious move was known to none but me, further augmenting my nervousness.
My inner rebel had always sought a vent, but in the formal gathering of senior leadership, I usually compelled it to take a backseat. Yet, that day was different. I granted myself the license to be genuinely authentic.
➡️ I showcased a leader who prioritizes Relationships above all.
➡️ A leader who values Emotions over mindless action.
➡️ A leader ready to shed her defensive armor, embrace Vulnerability, and offer her distinct perspective.
➡️ A leader eager to foster Meaningful Connections, relinquishing the sterile transactional mindset.
The road that had led me to that crucial juncture was speckled with highs and lows. My self-evolution, coupled with the observation of others, had contributed to the tapestry of my leadership ethos. Despite the butterflies in my stomach, a calm assurance enveloped me. I had gradually learned to heed my intuition, to lead with a heart permeated with empathy.
As my tale reached its conclusion, an eerie silence engulfed the virtual room. ⏳The subsequent ten seconds seemed like an eternity as I anxiously awaited their response. What transpired post that eerie silence was nothing short of transformative.
Within a few months, I embraced the mantle of the inaugural Employee Engagement Program Leader for the Canadian Consulting organization, a robust team of approximately 3000 members. Over the next five years, I steered this program, witnessing a consistent uptick in engagement metrics, prior to passing the torch as I embarked on a fresh adventure.
Interestingly, the presentations of my peers that day has blurred in my memory despite their caliber. Yet, the ripples created by my heartfelt narrative had etched an indelible mark on the archives of the organization.
It all emanated from a simple, earnest story from the heart. ♥️