This week I’m joined by Stephanie Bosch, she has worked in corporate banking for 12 years and knows what it feels like to put on a mask and experience the darker side of leadership. She says that instead of living up to our best selves, we can sometimes feel like misfits and people who just don’t fit in because we can’t express themselves and therefore hold ourselves back. Her mission is to teach leaders how to ‘use the winning tactics of the bad guys but with compassion and authenticity”.
There’s such a lot of similarities with the people Emma works with about the things that hold people back and the talk of ‘putting on the mask”.
Stephanie talks about her journey through banking in Germany and leaving after 6 years to go into management consulting and recruiting. She did this until she met her husband who lived in London, so came to the UK.
She started her business and now focusses on those who feel they are not fitting in or being annoyed by bad leadership. So there’s an interesting discussion point there about people who move up the career ladder because they are good at what they do, but don’t have the training or skills to manage people and be leaders.
“People don’t remember what you say, but remember the way you make them feel”
Stephanie also talks about company culture about career progression that leaves people frustrated or struggling with their job because they don’t have the people management skills, even though they’re good at other aspects of their job.
Stephanie talks about how she recognised that she wore a mask herself through her career and felt like she didn’t belong. She felt like she has two different lives, between corporate and personal life, even having two different wardrobes.
She talks about what did after this realisation to develop her confidence in herself.
Stephanie has a series of interviews called “Ditch Your Mask” and explains why she uses the term and how she can now look at helping people. Often we are too close to be able to see things for ourselves and the culture we work in can shape us, with formality and structure in big companies.
Stephanie talks about how to Ditch Your Mask and the first step is to be aware that there is a mask and feel a need to want to change. Change is difficult and uncomfortable so we need the reasons to want to change. Then figure out where does the mask not fit me, so identifying where it does not fit us and how do we want to be. Stephanie always wants to make sure that people feel safe a ready to change. It might mean small changes about the way we show up, for example, speaking up or stopping people pleasing. This enables you feel better about who you are.
Also figure out who you want to grow into and how you want to be. This is not about picking a role model and copying them, but identify aspects for yourself. Then getting a plan about when and how to ditch the mask. But we need a strong reason why because this can be an uncomfortable process but then instead of feeling exposed, you can do this with confidence.
We talk about being vulnerable and how this is not about the pity party, but being clear on the reason behind showing up, being clear on your own values and ensuring that it sits in line with your own values and how you want others to feel.
Have you thought about what your values are and then do they run through everything that you do?
Emma shares about her values and what it means and how it runs through her company as a great example of getting to the core of your values and ensuring they are well defined.
It’s important to share learnings, but not getting into the “Pity Party” but also being clear on sharing learnings. Emma shares her reason for her business, which isn’t about the pity party but recognising the importance for sharing a story and this is also a reason for doing what she does. Then it means she can share the learnings, and share the experiences, without woe me.
Stephanie talks about how we teach best what we need to learn. She has learned over the years that you cannot just numb negative emotions and put the mask on. She would tell her younger self that
“It’s OK not to be OK”
Sharing struggles and sharing joy is important. It would be good if she had learned this when she was younger. Life without emotions is just so boring. Emma talks about how there can be no filter with emotions, so if we numb down the unpleasant ones then we will stop the joy too.
Stephanie’s one piece of advice would be to really take your time with ditching the mask, whilst making yourself aware of the things that are not fitting and working for you. Don’t be led by other people’s standards and instead, figure out what you want and how you really want to be. Doing this can challenge your thinking and enable you to do things that stretch you and see if you can enjoy those things.