Leaders should take off their masks and just be themselves

Friday, October 11th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

What is the difference between an effective and ineffective project manager? Harvard Business Review contributor Peter Fuda thinks it all comes down to masks.

He's talking about metaphorical masks, mind you—it's not advisable to show up at the office dressed like Zorro. In his post, Fuda describes managers who "wear masks" for two different reasons.

"Some conceal their perceived inadequacies and flaws behind the polished facade we have come to expect of 'great' leaders, a bit like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber's epic musical The Phantom of the Opera," Fuda writes. "Others take on a new persona at work that they feel is necessary for success, much like Jim Carrey's character Stanley Ipkiss in the movie The Mask, who transforms into a flamboyant green superhero."

In both cases, these leaders are hurting their effectiveness. By pretending to be someone they are not, leaders make it more difficult to have genuine and productive relationships with their coworkers.

Fuda believes that individuals are especially likely to adopt these "masks" if they work in industries where men dominate all the executive positions. He argues that many employees feel the need to act "macho" to keep up, to the point where they may be suppressing other positive traits.

Of course, plenty of those executives are wearing masks too, and they need to learn to take them off as well.

New Leaf offers a variety of training programs to help you become an effective project manager while staying true to yourself. Our free white papers and online estimating game, QPM, let you practice your skills while earning PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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