In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher asks us as leaders to assume we're part (even in some small way) of any problem or issue that arises. It leaders to improving our impact.
Issues and difficulties will always come up in our careers. As leaders, it's essential that we don't immediately assume we aren't a part of the problem. It's actually better for us and the organization if we just assume we always are. Russel will walk through why that is and five ways we can better self assess in these situations.
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Welcome to Relationships At Work – the leadership guide to creating a workplace we love. I’m your host Russel Lolacher
I’m a communications and leadership nerd with a couple of decades of experience and a heap of curiosity on how we can make the workplace better. If you’re a leader trying to understand and improve your impact on work culture and the employee experience, you’re in the right place.
Every week on the show, I talk with a local or global leader on topics that are help to you to improve the workplace. We’ve tackled so man topics: negativity, culture renovation, plain language, imposter syndrome, diversity, communication, empathy, activism, burnout, mental health, and so many other topics.
And now, as an added bonus, I’ll be sharing an additional episode pulled from the pages of our weekly R@W Note which you can subscribe to.
A quick and valuable bit of information on top of our regular show.
So the R@W Note I’m passing on to you this week, is called…
We Are Part of the Problem… Or at Least Assume We Are
Here’s something we know but don’t always admit.
As a leader, we will inevitably find ourself in a difficult situation.
There will certainly be degrees of difficult as the situation may be directly or indirectly in our orbit, but it will happen.
And when this happens, the biggest mistake we can make as leaders is assuming we didn't have a role to play.
But they were disagreeing with each other, I wasn’t involved.
But it wasn't my staff.
But they had an issue with the work, not me.
But I didn't do anything.
Whether any of that is true or not, it doesn't get us off the hook. And we shouldn’t assume we are or want to be off the hook.
It can be transformative. Stay with me.
To cultivate a healthy culture, the kind we want and our team members want, this is one mindset shift that can really make a difference.
Assume we are part of the problem. Honest.
Even if there is barely any obvious linkages from us to the issue. Assume we are. Then assess and take steps to reverse engineer how we can better show up. For our team, our leaders, our colleagues. Even in the smallest of ways.
Perhaps we perpetuate a culture that is problematic for some. Perhaps we could have listened to that coworker more even though they weren't in our business area. Perhaps we could have been more aware of what was going on.
We don’t know what we don’t know but what a fantastic opportunity to find out. And assuming we AREN’T part of the problem, fixes nothing nor does it provide an opportunity for reflection and assessment.
Here are just five ways we can self-assess our role in work issues:
1. Take responsibility: Reflect on any mistakes or missteps that may have contributed to the problem and consider how we can take ownership and could make things right, now or next time.
2. Evaluate our problem-solving skills: Reflect on how we are approaching problems and whether we are considering all the relevant information. Are we involving our team in the problem-solving process? Are we open to feedback and willing to adjust our approach as needed?
3. Assess your communication skills: Reflect on how we are communicating and whether we are being transparent, empathetic, and clear in our messages. Are we actively listening to colleagues and addressing their concerns?
4. Consider your leadership style: Reflect on our leadership style and whether it is effective in addressing the current problem. Are we able to adapt our style to meet the needs of the organization, our team and the situation at hand?
5. Seek feedback from your team: Ask for honest opinions and take the feedback into account when assessing our own leadership role. By seeking feedback and being open to constructive criticism, we can improve our leadership skills and ensure that we are effectively leading future issues.
If we see ourselves as leaders, we have to then also see ourselves as influential and contributors (both good and bad) to the organization.
Assuming we’re part of the problem, any problem helps with that.
So when issues arise on our teams or across the company, embrace that opportunity, that teachable moment to reassess how we can do better.
And be better.