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Leaders: We are more, much more, than our business books.

As leaders, when we show up as our full selves, not just “business books”, we open the door to building relationships. With relationships comes trust. And trust opens the door to a world of possibility and achievement.

This past weekend, we moved. As someone who is highly visual-spatial (and a solid Myers-Briggs “J”), the clutter of boxes everywhere and being unable to find things is distressing. I’ve dug in this week to get as much of the space sorted as possible, including my home office.

In this new space, the logical spot for a bookshelf is directly behind me. As I set about loading it up, my first draft was to put the business books in fancy formation at eye level. It’s what people on video calls would see, after all.

Then I stopped. I realized that wasn’t what I wanted at eye level behind me. That I am more than just my business books, and my clients and partners appreciate me for more than just my related knowledge and skills. They choose to work with me because of me, the whole person.

So I loaded it the way I wanted to see it when I turned around, bottom to top:
  1. Books from my yoga teacher training and related topics
  2. Business/work books (of which I’ve only completely read three. Three.)
  3. My very favorite books, almost all fiction (and a figurine from Sweden)
  4. Swedish travel and heritage
  5. Australian travel on the left; Patronus (yes, Patronus) in the center; dog-related items on the right
  6. Photo my husband took at a bar in Belgium

When I look at this, I see a full picture of what makes me who I am, a whole person, and how I lead.

My yoga practice and teacher training has deeply informed how I think about leadership and life.

My travels (of which these are just a few) have broadened my worldview and led to incredible relationships and memories.

My love for dogs drives my volunteerism and passion for corporate social responsibility.

My hawk Patronus always shows up when I need to be reminded to see the bigger picture.

My favorite books all resonate with me for deep reasons that require us to sit down with a cup of coffee or glass of wine to discuss. (Comment from my brother while moving the book boxes, of which a few are still unpacked: “Haven’t you heard of a library?”)

Early in my leadership journey, I struggled when I led teams from a “business (book) first” approach. When I let myself be vulnerable and real, the relationships blossomed and the results were astounding.

The next time you’re on a video call, ask the person you’re meeting with about one of the items or books nearby and share something sitting on your desk too. Be curious and ask questions. Be authentic and vulnerable. See what happens.

What’s something that’s sitting on your bookshelf or desk? I’d love to see a picture and hear the story!

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

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