If you know anything about SimplyBe., you know that my #1 one priority is building a great culture. As a leader, I believe it’s your primary responsibility to establish a culture where your team feels honored, respected, nurtured, safe, encouraged, and celebrated. As a leader, I know I have many flaws (process, time management, #MATH), but building an amazing culture is not one of them.

So what happens when you give your heart and soul to your team, to let them into your life, to invest in them emotionally, to lead with LOVE, all to create that “amazing culture,” only to learn that the vision you are working so hard to build is too big for some to get behind?

If you're a woman in leadership operating with compassion, I'm going to assume that the way you lead is the way you live.

With your heart.

Don't stop doing that, and let me tell you why.

I was having a conversation about leadership last week with my best friend, when she said to me: “Jessica, you play bigger and live louder than anyone I have ever met.”

At first, I felt offended by that. Embarrassed almost. Like, “FUCK. I better tone it down. I should post less. I should share less. I should risk less. I should care less. I should DO less. I should be less.”

But then I recognized the misogyny I was letting creep inside my psyche.

As women rise more and more into the ranks of leadership, a new paradigm is starting to occur. We are experiencing “leaders” who can be demanding, pragmatic, and direct, and at the same time be compassionate, caring, and loving. Those leaders are usually women who lead with their whole hearts, and in my humble opinion, the world needs more of us. 

We rarely see men in leadership roles asking themselves: "Am I taking up too much space?" "Am I playing too big?" "Should I tone myself down to make other people feel more comfortable?" "I wonder what people think of my style?"

The truth is, most of them don't. They just lead. And that's awesome.

It's also awesome to be vulnerable. To care deeply about our people. To invest personally. To wear our grand vision on our sleeve. To lead from our hearts.

The caveat is this: female leaders who deeply care are going to experience dings from time to time. Knicks from people who don’t get it. Backlash from people who don’t know us. And heartbreak from people who we believed really did.

None of it, however, is reason to ditch your style altogether. But rather to learn from it. To find the balance. To thrive in the complex duality of being a powerful, heart-centered, strong, loving and laser focused female leader.

While I know that it’s important that your team feels honored, respected, nurtured, safe, encouraged, and celebrated to build a great culture, they must also be challenged, mentored, and open to feedback to grow a great company. Or, as my dear friend Alida Miranda-Wolff, founder of Ethos, recently said: “You don’t want your team to be good. You want your team to be growing."

At the end of the day, your people have to be driving value. To your clients. To your team members. To your net profit. You are running a business, after all, not a social club.

As a leader, if you encounter people who are resistant to growing, and more importantly, resistant to YOU as their leader challenging them to grow, then they have to go. Even it hurts. Which it will. Not everyone is going to grasp your vision. And that's okay.

But that’s one of the many lessons about being a leader.

We’re growing too.

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