The Leadership Comb-Over: Dealing with Denial

Here is a leadership challenge for anyone who leads people:

Step 1:

A Deeper Look

Take a look in the mirror. Take a really long look. Look deeply and intently into your own eyes. Do this for an extended period that may even outlast your normal attention span. Just stand there and look deeply at yourself. Look at who you have become. Examine the sum total of the decisions that you have made and see what it has amounted to.

See if your eyes will let you get a glimpse of your soul. And take some good mental notes while doing this…

Step 2:

Reality Check

Once you have observed yourself, take a quick honesty test:

  • Did you take a long enough look to get a reasonably complete understanding of who was looking back at you in the mirror?
  • Did you see deeply enough into your own eyes to understand something new?
  • Are you at peace with what you found?

If you answered “no” to any of these, go back to Step 1 and get it right this time. If you answered “yes” to all of these, then move on to Step 3.

Step 3:

Seeing Your Blemishes

Now that you have enjoyed a long glance of who you are, try to quantify how many things popped into you head that made you feel uncomfortableembarrassed, ashamed, regretful, unworthy, sinful, repulsed, or uneasy with who you are and what you see.

Step 4:

Discovering Your Masks

Now that you have a quick understanding of how you appear to yourself and what you might not like, think about the masks that you have created to hide your blemishes, to cover your flaws, and to deflect your embarrassing episodes in life and in leading others. Name those masks. Call them what they are. Hang them on a rack and look at them…

Perhaps here are some names that might be suitable for your collection:

  • The Shallow Hal
  • The Uncreative
  • The Scaredy Cat
  • The Unrepentant
  • The Spreadsheet
  • The Unforgiving
  • The Know-It-All
  • The Ignorant
  • The Over-Analyzer
  • The Arrogant
  • The Stingy
  • The Over-My-Head-And-In-Too-Deep

Step 5:

Understanding Reality

No matter who you are and how wonderful you think your masks look, I have some news for you. Although you think that you might be hiding who you really are, please understand this…

We all can see your Leadership Comb-Over!


Step 6:

Get a Leadership Stylist

Know yourself. Come clean. Be who the Good Lord made you to be. Repent of your past sins and reboot your leadership. Become an authentic person that people see as an honest, flawed person who can deal with reality as it is presented. Be confident in who you are and how you can serve others. Your people need the REAL you. Do it soon.

Because, if you have one, we can all see the comb-over…


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Tom Schulte
Tom Schulte is Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership
He provides leadership training fit for the Blackberry-Attention-Span
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  1. Tammy Redmon on August 31, 2010 at 1:13 am

    haha, Ok Tom Schulte, this is ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE Posts I have ever read. Leadership is all about being bold in my minds eye. It is an ability to be your true authentic self without makeup or a comb-over. Nothing to hide. And for those that ARE trying to hide something with a mask, perfume or a fancy hairstyle, your team is like your family, you can only fool them for so long before your feet begin to smell too.

  2. Geoff Snyder on August 31, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Tom, this is a very powerful post. When we as servants to our brothers and sisters are able to see our true selves, we reflect an honest message. I believe what this post’s message is, is just that. Being able to strip down the layers that we grow over time to be able to serve others better, more effectively, and truthfully.