Have you picked a mask (any mask)?

22 May 2020

By now, you should be used to wearing a mask in public.

Let me reword that. As a leader and executive, you are used to wearing a mask in public.

You put on a mask to project (a message; a mood) and you put on a mask to hide (information; feelings). You put on a mask to be polite and you put on a mask to be “the strong one.” Your mask is an amplifier or a filter.

Your colleagues and subordinates are used to reading your different masks. And yet, they will mostly read them wrong. (We learned as babies to read masks, starting with the ones hovering over our crib. And yes, we often got them wrong.)

Wearing a mask in society is normal. It’s part of, let’s say, social lubrication. And there’s the catch.

Too often we are unaware of the mask we wear. Putting on a mask has become a subconscious habit. Which means you could be wearing the wrong mask.

You should be more intentional in selecting the appropriate mask for a given situation. Especially if you are a leader and executive. And even more so if you are leading in trying times.

Let me repeat that: You must be intentional about the mask you pick.

(Why? Because you lead in what you do and say, and you lead in what you don’t do and don’t say. In your role, you can never not lead.)

Wearing a mask does not automatically make you less authentic. But wearing the right one intentionally can make you a better leader.

Here’s my Friday Trigger Questions:

  • Think back over this past week. With hindsight, can you tell where you picked the wrong mask? Do you now know which mask would have better served both you and your audience?

Two more questions to ponder:

  • Do you think wearing a mask is unethical or “just not done”? If so, why not? (Your response will say much about the mask you were wearing when you read my questions.)