In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher shares a story of leadership being comfortable with being uncomfortable. And how we can too.
Russel demonstrates one of his favourite moments at a recent keynote, where an executive publicly shared their discomfort to their peers, demonstrated vulnerability and modelled great leadership in doing so.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is difficult for many leaders, so Russel shares a few tips on how to take those first steps in embracing those moments, learning from them and becoming a better leader.
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Have you ever been in a course or listened to a presenter for work, and the words coming out of the instructor's mouth made you feel uncomfortable? They either didn’t align with your experience or values or they made you question how you show up in the workplace. Or maybe the stories they highlighted hit a little too close to home.
However it hit you, it moved you out of your comfort zone as a leader.
I’m here to tell you, that is probably a good thing.
And recognizing that uncomfort, sitting in it and trying to understand why you feel uncomfortable could be one of the most powerful things you do as a leader. And in becoming a better leader.
Recently I did a keynote for a group of executives about the impacts of good and bad leadership and their responsibilities to the work culture (it was a pretty good keynote). One of the executives had a really interesting reaction. Near the end of my presentation, she admitted to the group about feeling really uncomfortable by an experience I shared about horrible onboarding and how organizations rarely take them as seriously as they should.
This executive not only admitted to feeling uncomfortable publicly but she also following up by questioning those feelings and wondering why she was feeling uncomfortable. She was reflecting on how she may or may not have contributed to others onboarding experiences. And how her actions or inactions may have stayed with them. It was one of the coolest things I’d seen. Not only in that she questioned her feelings and herself, but that she shared her vulnerability with the larger group. Fearlessly. Or at least with lots of fear she was comfortable with.
I was blown away. She showed great leadership in her ability to self-reflect and consider the opportunity to learn and show up better. Often, feeling uncomfortable can be a gateway to learning. It's a matter of how we accept that information and what we do with it. That self-awareness is giving you a big neon sign on what you probably need to work on.
As a leader, if you’re looking to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, try this:
There is work to create that space and it absolutely helps with uncomfortability. Being uncomfortable as a leader is a moment to embrace growth as a leader. Don’t miss the opportunity.