There is no room for comfort in leadership

Let me introduce you to an employee who recently moved to a new job.

In her previous work, Rima was a contributor to many ideas for the progress of a fast-growing organization. All her colleagues were aware of her exceptional leadership skills.

Her insights played a decisive role in the work of her team. Her voice was the one that made everyone listen carefully to what was said during the team meetings. Everyone except her boss, Jared, the company’s founder.

Last week, Rima announced she would resign because she accepted an offer from another company. There she will receive better pay and more freedom of action.

She wrote a long post on Linkedin about how grateful she was for the extraordinary experience she had in Jared’s company.

He showered her with praise during a virtual meeting with other members of the company. In other words, this is a separation without bad feelings – just business. Reference: “Whether the leader’s skills are appropriate for the changing business environment“,

Everything seems perfectly normal, as long as we ignore the fact that this whole process could have been avoided. Yes, Rima decided to leave because she had a better opportunity, but also because she felt underestimated by Jared.

Moreover, this is not a rare phenomenon. Many people leave their jobs for the same reason – they have bosses who refuse to take their views into account and listen to their advice.

What is the reason for this? Very simple – leaders, like everyone else, find it difficult to go beyond their comfort zone. Different points of view can confuse and irritate us, they can provoke our understandings of things.

And while this is not a serious problem for most people, leaders cannot afford to ignore other people’s views. There is no room for comfort in leadership. But what can you do to learn to accept different points of view? Here are some steps:

Normalize the opposition

It’s a good idea to have someone on your team from time to time who rarely agrees with your suggestions. This “defender of the devil” can help you look at things from a different angle and broaden the discussion.

It is recommended that team members take turns in this role so that it is not held only by people who, for one reason or another, are always inclined to oppose the proposed solutions. This alternation also reduces the likelihood that a particular employee will be targeted as a problem person who only slows down the process.

Analyze your reactions

There is a good reason to call “uncomfortable truths” just that. Their perception takes time and energy. They can confuse our understanding of who we are.

It is normal to feel upset when a colleague points out a mistake you have made or gives examples of shortcomings in your work as a leader. However, you should not allow this feeling of discomfort to become a reason to end the discussion.

Instead, consider the actions and decisions that made the other person feel that way. Think about why he is disappointed with your leadership. Analyze whether his criticisms are based on facts or his personal views of you.

Whatever the reason, you can learn a lot from such a conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Think about what you lose

What is the price you pay for ignoring different points of view? To what extent do you limit your development by ignoring unpleasant truths?

How does this affect work culture, productivity, creativity, and trust throughout the organization? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself to realize the effect of your isolation as a leader.

Against this background, it is important to note that nowadays it is fashionable to talk about a “growth-focused mindset”.

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Many companies even define this as their core values. In short, it means not relying only on things that are easy and enjoyable, and accepting those that you don’t want to hear because they usually come from someone who took a risk to share them with you.

These three steps are important not only for retaining quality employees like Rima but also for creating a corporate culture that allows everyone to be their best selves.

These steps are also important for finding your way as a leader. Don’t shy away from criticism and embarrassing truths – they can be a springboard to the top of your leadership.