Let’s imagine for a minute that you’ve been feeling a little inefficient lately and noticing your team really needs some motivation to move to the next level. So, you decide to join a leadership development group or program for new ideas. In one of the first meetings, the group leader asks everyone to introduce themselves, and now, it’s your turn. I’ll bet you’d say something like…
“I’m a CEO.”
“I’ve got 20 years of experience in my field.”
“I manage a small team.”
“I’m one of the key people at my organization.”
Now just imagine if you were asked to introduce yourself without those titles, labels, and explanation of your accomplishments.
Would it make you more vulnerable?
But could you do it? Of course you could!
We have a secret weapon in our LeadWell leadership development group: it’s called anonymity.
Why anonymity? Well, one day it occurred to me that the minute you give yourself a label, it hijacks your first impression. People now know you by your job title or description, rather than your authentic and beautiful self. I had even started to notice in my leadership groups how people would treat others differently, once they learned their titles or positions.
No way, people. I wasn’t about to have that happening in LeadWell! It’s counterproductive to your growth!
But being human, when we hear someone’s title, we immediately make decisions about the person, or create stories about who they might be. We prejudge how approachable they are, what we think we can or can’t learn from them, and what experiences they have or have not had that are similar to our own. In short, the title becomes a distraction and takes away from the universal, valuable leadership principles we can all learn and share with each other, whether we lead a team of 5 or 500.
So, being a risk-taker, I decided to follow my gut when I met with a LeadWell group in January of 2017.
When it was time for introductions, I asked them to check their ego at the door. I told them to drop those peacock feathers and introduce themselves without their titles and achievements. Instead I asked them to tell me:
- Their name
- Why they wanted to be a better leader
- What skills they hoped to develop and..
- About a leader they had worked with whom they admired, and wanted to emulate
I even asked them not to give hints like telling us they work with “doctors” or “politicians.”
It worked. The room was equalized and we all laser-focused on the warriors we were, not how shiny our armor was! We met each other as people, looking to learn from the leadership development group. I saw everyone listening intently to everyone else and a common respect formed among the group.
A wise friend and LeadWeller, who wondered what I was up to with the whole anonymity thing, totally understood in the end.
“Jen, THAT piece, that anonymity is LeadWell’s great equalizer!” she exclaimed.
She meant that if we did not know each other’s past and present, we could then all be equal voyageurs on the same quest. Hmm. Pretty interesting observation.
Of course in LeadWell, the anonymity isn’t forever. We eventually share contact info and become a part of a private alumni community where everyone reveals their “secret identity,” but not before we have a really good vibe going where every opinion is valued…which is the foundation of the skills you learn and integrate in LeadWell!
I’ve never gone back to the old way because I’ve heard from my LeadWell participants how valuable “no ego” is. The anonymity contributed to vulnerability, which contributed to incredible growth. Most of all, the people in the groups told me how they thought they were “the only one” with certain challenges, and then found out that they weren’t!
Everyone wants to sit in a room with like-minded people so that’s why I vet and interview the people admitted to the LeadWell program. They’re all committed to excellence and bringing all they have to give. Everyone can then receive so much more in anonymity.
Who knew that losing “your identity” could be so powerful? At LeadWell, it leads to exponential growth!