As a female leader, do we have to be hard on the outside and soft on the inside? Are you like a pearl, one of the most rare, fine, admirable and valuable gemstones and objects of beauty that we have celebrated for many centuries?
Pearls have been considered precious gems since 2,300BC and historically were thought to be the tears of the gods. They start life off as an irritant, but develop over time into a unique and elegant gem.
A natural pearl begins its life inside an oyster when an intruder, such as a grain of sand, slips in between one of the two shells. To protect itself from irritation, the oyster quickly begins covering the uninvited visitor with layer upon layer of a mineral substance, until the pearl is formed, over a number of years.
A true leader walks a walk, not unlike that of the humble oyster – they exhibit courage, persistence, and patience. By that, I mean they dare to stand alone, have the tenacity to not succumb to pressure, and the stamina to keep on keeping on.
A true leader, just as the oyster’s intruder, should in my view, reflect the following habits:
They are Authentic
Being authentic is being and acting consistently with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself out to be for yourself. They are grounded and able to be straight with others without the use of force.
They are the Author of their Destiny
This quality relates to the stand a leader takes on his or herself and their life. They view and act from the standpoint that they are the cause in the matter of everything in their life. Being willing to consider life from this perspective leaves you with power – never viewing oneself as a victim.
They are Committed to Something Bigger than Themselves
Being committed to something bigger than oneself drives a leader to both lead and develop others as leaders. Leaders create other leaders.
They are A Person of Integrity
I recently had the great pleasure to speak for the Australian Institute of Managers & Leaders about my perspective on integrity. I regard it as being the inner compass through which you guide your own life. Integrity goes to your core and that your word is whole and complete. It is not negotiable.
Fine quality natural pearls are very rare jewels. They have been highly valued as gemstones for many centuries. Because of this, “pearl” has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable. A true leader is also just that.
So my advice – go be an irritant.