Article Contributed By:
Global Application Services Director
Shifting to PRIDE Made Me a More Authentic Leader
When someone can’t be their true self, there’s so much potential lost for both the person and those around him or her. Looking back on my own experiences, a lot of creative opportunities were missed when I found myself muting my opinions. I had lived with the fear of my ideas being brushed aside and seen as “being gay,” in a derogatory or outside-of-the-norm way.
I grew up in a culture and family that was not accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, which left me with intense feelings of shame. Throughout my life, I knew I was gay but tried to “fit in” with those around me who were not of the LGBTQ+ community. Pretending to be someone you’re not can take a serious toll on someone. Eventually and thankfully, I hit a point where “coming out” was when I fully accepted my authentic self. It was a shift from shame to pride.
Progressing in my career, I realized showing my authentic self is one of my strongest assets. It provides a chance to share my perspectives and to accept others’ more openly, creating a space that promotes innovation and creativity. If I’m more genuine, then those around me will feel empowered to do the same and won’t be worried about sharing their ideas or opinions.
As I grew into leadership roles, I also saw the importance of overcoming my tendency of keeping my personal and professional life separate. That can come across as “all business, all the time,” and I found myself losing the powerful human connection with my teams and clients.
Employees need to be able to trust their leaders and rely on transparency. Hiding my authentic self would do the complete opposite of building a trusting, open environment at work.
After I met my now-husband, it became clear to me that I was missing an opportunity to share my personal life experiences with people I wanted to build relationships with, so I started to be less guarded. It wasn’t all perfect, but in most instances, me being more open resulted in stronger relationships with those working alongside me.
Within any culture, there are majority and minority groups, and although the LGBTQ+ community continues to grow, it remains the minority in most cultures. Allyship is especially important because that person sits in the majority but advocates for the minority. Non-LGBTQ+ persons can help build a space that feels welcoming and inclusive for those who are sharing with you, confiding in you, and opening up.
I am proud of who I am and that I was able to move my mindset from shame to pride in order to build a fulfilling life for myself.