The Leadership Cloak

This is sure to be revisited.

Someone was trying to give me advice the other day. Knowing that I have introverted preferences, they were trying to explain to me the need to put on the “leadership cloak” when I walk out the door on the mornings of programming.  I just laughed, as I perfected that cloak long ago as a physician.  No one wants a nervous looking surgeon, and a very young looking female physician…I learned fast how to look like the most confident person in the room.

The problem with that – and doing that at such an early point in professional development – was that it made it extremely difficult to ask for help, own mistakes, and combat imposter syndrome.

I’ve spent the last five years stripping away the cloak and getting comfortable with my authentic, honest self being vulnerable in front of other people.  The trick now will be to create a mature leadership cloak,  one that integrates the real me into it; one that allows for asking for help and owning mistakes. It’s not just about looking confident, it’s about being confident.

That’s the *real* story that we need to talk about with people. That’s the real professionalism.


Featured Image by: Sandeep Swarnkar,

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve been in four schools over eight years (mainly from life circumstances, moving, etc) and I can definitely relate. Every time I walked into a new building, I wanted to present calm, confident professionalism. I rarely asked for help, but I also kept opinions to myself and didn’t engage because I was acutely aware of being the “new guy.”

    I think we have a hard time mixing “real me” with “teacher me” because we interact with kids/teens, not adults, all day. There is a difference in maturity and professional distance is appropriate. But, it bleeds into the working relationships as well.

    I think it’s also on the shoulders of current teachers to remember what it’s like to be the new guy. Asking, “Is there something I can help with today?” can go a long way in helping break down a (self-imposed) barrier and encourage us to just be ourselves.


  2. CogDog says:

    I guess I lose track of what leadership is assumed to be something akin to “macho” or “cocky”. I love your plan “It’s not just about looking confident, it’s about being confident.” I’d insert maybe a “humanly” as an adjective.


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