We recently hosted our quarterly Breakfast of Change, where we explored the relationship between resilience and performance.

One thing that emerged from our discussions was how people felt the need to put on a 'game face' at work and it left us wondering, when there has been such a move towards greater authenticity at work, why do we still feel we have to hide so much?

Our role as leaders

It was specifically when the attention turned to what is expected – or what we expect of ourselves – in our roles as leaders, that people feel they have to disguise what they're really experiencing and put on their game face. 

The debate ultimately comes down to whether we perceive strength and vulnerability as mutually exclusive of one another. We think they are complementary.

By and large we still operate in a world where being in control, being certain is deemed the criteria of success. So we have all learnt to collectively keep up the charade; even though no one has it all figured out or knows for certain what is round the corner, we pretend as if we do. This makes it very difficult to show vulnerabilities like doubt, insecurity or exhaustion. 

Don't get us wrong, sometimes the game face is needed. Sometimes it’s the kindest thing we can do for ourselves in the moment, but when it becomes hardened into a habit then we are game facing ourselves – and it's down that road that burn-out lies.


What can we do?

So how do we move this forward? How do we become more accepting of the messy stuff in life and more truthful in expressing it without unnerving the people we lead?

Building personal resilience has many levers – anything from regular physical activity to taking time to reflect. To dig a little deeper though, it's about how we treat ourselves; how we marshal the pressures we put ourselves under, how much what other people think about us affects us, and whether we permit ourselves time to relax. 

The first step is always about self-awareness. So as a first step, think about the situations you find yourself in today, ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 (10 being high and 1 being low) how real are you able to be? And what would be one thing you can do next time to shift that score one mark higher?

Open Workshop

We’re going to be diving deeper into this subject in our upcoming open programme Personal Leadership: Resilience and Performance and we'd love you to join us. Click through to find out more. If the session isn't for you perhaps you know someone who'll benefit? Please feel free to share this message via any of the links below.

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