In the article Alicia Keys: Time to Uncover, singer songwriter Alicia Keys admits the most empowered she ever felt was when she had NO make up on.
“Instantly, I became a bit nervous and slightly uncomfortable. My face was totally raw. I had on a sweatshirt! As far as I was concerned, this was my quick run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look, not the actual photo-shoot look. So I asked her, "Now?! Like right now? I want to be real, but this might be too real!!"
And that was it. She started to shoot me.
It was just a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately relating, me and that baseball hat and scarf and a bunch of invisible magic circulating. And I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.”
As her quote shows, she didn’t start out feeling bold and empowered. She eventually landed there through a series of choices.
Middle managers should take a lesson from Key’s “song” book and embrace the benefits of uncovering their shame.
Now before you get appalled that I had the audacity to posit that you have shame, let’s define some terms so we’re all on the same page.
Middle manager: someone who has a boss AND is a boss
Shame: the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another
Uncover: to lay bare, disclose, or reveal
Now, I’ll say it again. Middle managers need to embrace the benefits of uncovering their shame—the feelings that something is dishonorable or improper.
Why? Because what you conceal won’t heal.
Most middle managers don’t see themselves as the great and powerful people they are.
They see themselves as “stuck in the middle”. We’ve been taught that middle management is a “wasteland” that one needs to escape as quickly as possible.
I mean think about it…deep down do you have painful feelings arising from the consciousness of being despised in your role? Do you constantly feel like you aren’t “doing enough” ....producing enough....motivating enough?
If so, that’s shame rearing it’s ugly head. There is no shame in feeling shame. We all feel it.
But notice what Alicia Keys did. She made a series of choices to get to the point where she could do a photoshoot with no make up and started trending on social media with #nomakeup.
You're only 3 Choices Away from Empowered
1. Choose to acknowledge your shame.
Admit that you cover up your insecurities so the only thing your boss, staff, and colleagues see is the “made up” you. Most of my work with middle managers is not about teaching them leadership or management skills, it’s about giving the courage to take off the "make up" and be themselves. In your raw state, you possess the power to dominate middle management.
2. Choose a safe place to uncover.
A video has been circulating social media of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski talking about how a lobster grows. Lobsters shed their shells when they have outgrown them. The lobster goes to a safe place to discard his shell to protect it's new soft body from predators before its new shell hardens. You can go here to watch the video
The biggest problem I see in working with middle managers is their inability to have a safe place to uncover and be vulnerable. You fear that people will take advantage of you or that you’ll be perceived as weak or soft.
I am creating a community where you can discard your “make up” and get out of your “shell” in a mentally, emotionally, and physically safe place.
3. Chose ONE bold action to confirm you new direction.
There is a difference between being brave and having courage. You can summon up the courage to acknowledge your shame and choose a safe place to uncover it, but when you ACTUALLY do it that’s when you’ve stepped from courage into bravery.
Middle managers are doers. You typically performed well which is why you were promoted. But to get to the next level of your development, you are going to focus on a new set of actions.
Perhaps you admit to your team you messed up for the 6th time this week but unlike the 5 times before, you’re going to do something different this time.
Perhaps you apply for that new position.
Perhaps you invest in getting yourself a coach.
Take a lesson from Alicia Keys, go with #nomakeup and “I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free,…” you will have ever felt...as the bomb.com middle manager you are.
Hi there. I'm Julia. Founder, Executive Coach and Leadership Development expert at Brave Communication LLC. Unless noted, I wrote all of the posts here in.