Leadership is about courage – which, as author Brene Brown points out – is not possible without vulnerability. Here are a few of my favourite ways to get courageous and vulnerable (and more effective as a leader!):
1. Give up trying to know all of the answers
Many of us think, as leaders, we need all of the answers. When I was a young manager, I definitely believed this! The trouble is, if we’re trying to have all of the answers (which is impossible), we can’t HEAR people. If we can’t HEAR people, we can’t properly LEAD them! Try asking more questions – as a leader, questions are your superpower – you will be blown away by what you discover and the solutions and wins that will come out of it.
2. Admit that you’re not superwoman (or superman)… especially if you fall down the stairs and break your elbow in two places…
For weeks I tried to act positive and “normal” at work with my team, but it was pretty obvious (to everyone except me) that I was struggling. I fell down the stairs at my office and broke my elbow (yes, it hurt), and didn’t miss a beat! I went to every meeting, did every live video, and tried to show up 100% “normal”. The problem was, other people were noticing that I wasn’t ok. One of my clients remarked “I’ve never seen you yawn!” and another voiced their concern over my caffeine intake… warranted, it was. I was trying to act normal even though I wasn’t sleeping, and I was struggling to stay positive. I finally opened up to my team on Friday and they were AMAZING and UNDERSTANDING. I admitted that I’d been really struggling, even feeling some anxiety and depression at times, because I couldn’t exercise (my favourite stress reliever) and I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. Once that was out, the pressure was off, and we had an AMAZING visioning meeting, and came up with some awesome stuff – even though I was still tired and sore – because I was authentic and vulnerable about what was going on for me.
3. You need to ask for, accept and do something with constructive criticism.
We are not perfect (GASP), and it’s ok to admit it. Our teams already KNOWS IT, trust me! There is incredible growth and success waiting for you when you ask your team for feedback on your leadership. I recommend doing it consistently. Ask them how they think a project went. Ask them what they think of the strategy for this year. Ask them how they feel about the leadership. Ask them what they might do if they THEY were in your role. Ask them what we could change to be more effective or efficient. Once you get the answers, take some time to reflect and accept the feedback. Once you’re ready, IMPLEMENT what you’ve learned. *In my experience, it is far worse to ask for feedback and ignore it, than it is to not ask at all (not asking is NOT the solution here, by the way).
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