Question for you: what is your first reaction when a leader shares they are hurting, or struggling to overcome anxiety, pressure, stress or some other challenge related to their mental health?
Do you trust they can lead effectively?
Does their credibility erode because they showed a level of vulnerability not normally discussed in the workplace?
Are you confident they’ll be strong in the difficult periods that every organization goes through?
Gut-check time. What were your answers?
The reality for all of us is that we go through dark times. I’ve never met anyone who is always up, everything is perfect, and they live without a care in the world. Despite what ends up on our social channels (including mine), life doesn’t work that way.
Why then, would we put such unrealistic pressure on our leaders to be perfect and improving at all times when we know that is impossible?
The cycle of battling that inner voice that overwhelms…then subsides…then begins again…is a reality for me. It has been for years, yet I’ve been reticent to share any of those struggles for fear of being judged, losing opportunities to move ahead professionally, or compromising the respect of my colleagues.
At times it feels like a never ending cycle…and candidly…it is. The real triumph is when we accelerate out of the hurt phase and into some sort of healing. We find that the road ahead doesn’t always have to be a traffic jam…it can be wide open full of possibilities.