Mending the Split

in Role

I coach you, my client, on how you perform in public.

What I look for when you first start to speak is the split. The split is that millisecond when you stand in front of me, and you slip into another skin. It's usually a subtle, barely perceptible slip. But suddenly, I see the moment when you no longer behave like the person who first walked into this room. You become somebody else without knowing that you have become somebody else. You sneak into the role of the public person, and into all of the mental blueprints about how this role is lived. The split is the moment when I begin to understand you.

Some leaders make a conscious decision about how they play the public role. Some, but not many. Most slip into the public skin the way you might step into a puddle during heavy rain, when there simply seems no other way to cross the street. You step into it, you make it across, but the effort of the jump and the splash of the step mark you for hours to come.

I have coached hundreds of women, and I have coached hundreds of men. Now here's the tricky part. The blueprints are not the same, and men and women, without conscious design, step into very different body suits.

The split into the role of the professional is the only split that is shared by men and women alike. It is in some way the saddest split of them all, because it betrays a profound sense of shame. Yes - healthy boundaries are great. But at the core of this split sits the unspoken belief that if you see me as I truly am, you will not like what you see. Who I really am is not meant for public consumption. So I will don the most neutral mask I can find. I will pretend to be like every other professional who is equally busy pretending to be like every other professional. I will show you nothing.

I invite you to be mindful of your own split. Observe how you play your public role. It's not a fixed or rigid role. It's possible to have fun with this role. Play with it. But make sure it's a conscious play.

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Achim Nowak has 1 articles online

Achim Nowak, the author of "Power Speaking: The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker," is a leading-edge authority on personal leadership presence. His company Influens is an International training and coaching firm based in South Florida that helps to develop resonant leaders. Achim has been featured on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, CNN, and NPR. He can be reached by contacting the Influens Relationship Manager, Dan Oropesa at 954.249.8718 or by email at For more information visit

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Mending the Split

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This article was published on 2010/04/03