When to Wear The Mask

I’ve blogged about my perspective on a leader’s mask in the past. Although authenticity is one of the most essential and admired leadership traits, there are times when the leader must wear a mask to protect the team from bearing a burden that is the responsibility of the leader to bear.

However, too much masking and the leader can come across as a pretender. So, what should a leader mask, and what should they openly share?

We mask most of our negative emotions, including:

  • Our negative moods
  • Our rage and anger
  • Our disappointment with decisions made by others that affect our team or our own career

On the other hand, we should express:

  • Our excitement for or support of our team
  • Our disappointment with the actions or decisions made by someone we directly lead, though we show it only to the individual who’s disappointed us for the purpose of having a
    coaching conversation.
  • Our firmness. There’s a difference between expressing our anger and being firm.

We mask up in an effort to not freak out the team or to come across as a moody leader. We balance our masking by being authentic in our support of our team, in our coaching conversations, and in how we lead our team to overcome challenges.


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