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Dr. Ella Bell offers ‘good, bad and ugly’ lessons

Sunday, October 26, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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The most effective leaders tap into their "good, bad and ugly” to develop an authentic corporate persona and the relationships they need to develop others and propel their own careers, according to Dr. Ella Bell, the closing keynote speaker at the NEW Leadership Summit, Oct. 24 in Atlanta.

Everyone projects a corporate persona — how they enter a room, how they interact, what they bring to the table at work — in an attempt to fit in, but not all are aware of what their corporate personas are, Bell said. "Corporate persona is important because it helps us be a member of the team and career advancement is about being a member. Too often for women, corporate persona is about how hard we work and how we put our noses to the grindstones — but performance isn’t everything.”

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Performance plus relationships equals advancement, she said. "And corporate persona focuses on the ‘relationship’ part. It is connected to one of the key tenets of leadership — authenticity: who you are, what is in your heart, how you show your heart. Who is the real you inside? Do those qualities match up with your corporate persona?”

Authenticity is important, she said, "because you are your best tool as a leader. You don’t create followership if people don’t have a sense of what you stand for. Sometimes our corporate persona is not connected to who we are, because we are too busy trying to show how we fit in as women. The challenge is to dig deeper to find what we leave at the door and what we leave at the table.”

A life-long journey to leadership

Leadership is a life-long journey that includes your good, bad and "ugly” traits, Bell said. Growing up, we’re filled with the good from people who loves us, it’s the acknowledgements for being a class leader, or best speller or story teller, or athletic accomplishments. "Your husbands and partners and children know your ‘good.’ Performance reviews start with the good. "

Everyone also has some "bad,” Bell said. "It’s the way my New Year’s list of resolutions never change. The stuff that you always apologize for, but never change. Whenever you think, ‘whatever,’ you hold on to your bad, because ‘whatever” means ‘I’m not doing anything about it.’”

The "uglys” are all the things we don’t like about ourselves, she said. They often start with events in childhood when our ego isn’t well-developed and are deeply formed in our unconscious.

"Our ugly can control us and take us out of our leadership loop,” Bell said. "My ugly is not your ugly. There are those of us who have broken marriages, faced bankruptcy, lost a child or parent. We don’t talk about these things publicly and I’ve seen how some women let their uglies throw them off path.

"When my ugly is in full force, I have a Transformer moment. I walk in and people ask what’s wrong. I get emails saying ‘are you okay?’ My students tiptoe around me. Transformers are not good leaders.”

Leaders understand their vulnerabilities, she said. ”Some people think good leadership comes from the good. But leadership is muscle, chops, and it comes from the ‘ugly.’ It’s how you learn courage, perseverance, determination. It’s how you realize how smart you are and you recognize your own power. It’s learning you can fall down and get back up again. How you learn to take risks, to be a visionary, because there has to be another vision for the [ugly] reality [you are living through].”

When you walk in the door, to your jobs, you need to be able to show what you’ve learned for your ugly. "It’s not pushing the ugly away, it’s about what you have learned from your ugly, connecting with it and taking the time to recognize the muscle that comes with it.”


Leadership is a life-long journey that includes your good, bad and
"ugly” traits, according to closing keynote speaker Dr. Ella Bell.


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