Why we sometimes need to share our dark side

I was working with a client once (no not the guy in the picture) who was just a lovely, lovely, lovely man. And guess what, when he presented, he came across as simply lovely, lovely, lovely... smiled loads, light and fragrant almost and... minimal gravitas.

He was super bright, and his organisation saw him as a future leader.  However, he didn't get many opportunities to present and so shine to the wider senior leadership team. In truth this lack of gravitas was the reason why, and of course the fewer times he presented, the less confident and more smiley he became.

Now smiling is a fine wonderful thing but not all the time. So we talked about smiling less and slowing down (which all help create gravitas). But these are more about treating the symptoms.

Then he got a little frustrated with himself and swore and then apologised. 

This led to us to talking about his dark side. I mentioned that leaders need to access both their light and dark sides. In fact, a leader’s ability to access this dark side, is part of being transparent, human and inspiring. Think of 3 of your favourite leaders. I bet all of them were capable of revealing their dark side.  But still, do we really, I mean really, have to show this side to our audience?

Even Jesus, normally seen as a paragon of all things mild and kind, stormed into a temple and single handedly broke up a market, which he saw as desecrating the house of God. Assuming the story is true, then I bet afterwards, his disciples thought, “oh not so mild then…”

As for my client, turns out he did have a dark side. We all do. But hid it from senior colleagues as he saw this as bad. However, with his own team, he was more inclined to be much less `lovely`. He also said his partner complained that he was too driven, could be grumpy and was a bit of a perfectionist. 

So in his next presentation, he inserted a few of those gremlins. Allowing himself to be a bit grumpy, to be frustrated, be honest and driven. Now we could clearly see the other side: serious, passionate and insistent. 

So next time you present, access a bit of that dark side. You definitely won't lose you, but what you will gain is insight, authenticity and respect.

For more on leader presentations go to http://standupanddeliver.co.uk/leader-executive-presentation-skills

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