November 14th, 2018
Do you see yourself as a leader?
If not, is that because you think leadership doesn’t come to you authentically? I can still remember the moment I realized I wanted to be and be seen as a leader. That moment didn’t occur until last fall, at the ripe age of 38, and only after becoming a mother. It happened, as is often the case, when I saw someone else lead in a way that inspired me.
And that someone else was Celia Smith.
Celia is Chief Operating Officer at TAS, one of Toronto’s most prominent and progressive builders. At the time, I was brought in to work with Celia and the CEO on some change projects during a period of rapid growth for the company.
I was leaning on the doorway of the entrance to Celia’s office while she sat at her desk.
I said: “I’m sorry to bother you but can I ask you a few questions about this project?”
Celia stood up from her desk, tall and vibrant, her red long sweater radiant in the bright winter light coming through the office window looking over Eglinton Avenue West. She closed the door.
“Have a seat,” she said, gesturing to the chair in front of her desk.
She sat back down in her chair.
She looked at me, grinning with her megawatt smile and kind eyes. I knew it already. My apologizing was like a twitch. It was my subtle way of asking for permission to be seen, heard, valued.
“Women apologize too much,” Celia said. “Deep down, we know what we have to say has value but we still apologize.”
She went on to verbalize what I had already started to uncover for myself — that apologizing, or saying “I don’t know” at the end of a comment, delegitimizes the impact that we want to have. We all want to have an impact but we fear how our words will be received. We fear being judged.
Today, I challenge myself and my clients to step into fear knowing that we can’t control the judgment and that we will be judged no matter what…so why not just go for it!