Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love

The Dangers of Leaders Dismissing Duality at Work

February 01, 2024 Russel Lolacher Episode 133
Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love
The Dangers of Leaders Dismissing Duality at Work
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher highlights the importance of embracing duality at work. 

Two things can be true. And, to be good leaders, we need to embrace that duality even if the those experiences are contradictory to each other.  Having this understanding will allow us to find issues we may ignore and improve the health of the workplace. Russel will walk through why duality can be dismissed and what we can do to embrace it. 

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Welcome back to Relationships At Work – the leadership mindset guide for 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.

It’s our weekly mini-episode, a quick and valuable, and under 10 minute bit of information on top of our regular show to help us reset and rethink our leadership mindset.

So for our R@W Note I’m passing on to you… 

Duality Resistance: Two things can be true.  

Take this in. Because we can’t always admit that two things can be true in the workplace.  The good and the bad. 
 I want to start with the duality that prevents us from addressing the bad. The challenging. The concerning. It’s hard to comprehend this sometimes because we speak and understand from our own experiences. Our biases. Our world views. 

Here's the thing though, your experience is not the same experience others are having with someone. Sometimes they’re the same but sometimes they aren’t. 

That manager has been so great in helping my career. 
 hey, that’s the same manager that helped us in ours. Love that person!

Great! Hearing that reinforces what we already believe. But how about this…

That manager provides no psychological safety. I can’t be honest with them without retribution or hurting my career.
 hey, that’s the same manager that was there when I needed them to fix my problem with my boss. That can’t be true. 

Um, yes it can. Two things can be true. 

Great leadership that is trying to understand their culture and the employee experience needs to take in differing experiences then their own. And treat it with value. 

As that last example illustrated, think about it from an “identifying troublesome leadership” standpoint. Hey, I just wrapped up my 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership series so it’s top of mind. 

Did you know, a leader can…

Be a champion of ideas and a roadblock for others.
 Be a source of great advice and be inaccessible.
 Be a mentor for our success and provide horrible feedback to others.  

Throughout my career and in talking with others, I've come across conflicting perceptions of leaders. While one person says they are the worst, another can't comprehend it because they've been the best for them.
 A great person who you love chatting with can also be a horrible leader.
 A great team you love working with can also have a horrible reputation.
 A colleague who is there for you to help your career can also be a huge challenge for others.

Our experiences are not everyone's experiences. Our relationships with others are not the same relationships others have. How a leadership interacts with you, can be very different in how they interact with others.
 No one and nothing is only one thing. Not our bosses, not our leaders, not our employees, not our colleagues and not us. But as leaders, if we dismiss stories of other people’s experiences because that isn't our experience, we're part of the problem.
 It's important to approach all situations with respect, compassion, and open-mindedness. So if it’s bad leadership we’re having duality issues over, here are a few steps take to help with that:

1.     Identify the Duality and its Impact: First, recognize the specific dual behaviors or characteristics and figure out how these dual traits affect the team and individual members. How does it impact morale, productivity, and the overall work environment?

2.     Communicate Concerns: If possible, communicate your observations and concerns to the leader directly, but in a constructive manner. Use specific examples and focus on the behavior, not the person. If direct communication isn't feasible or safe, consider speaking to HR or a trusted higher-up.

3.     Adapt and Protect: Develop strategies to adapt to the leadership style while protecting yourself and your team. This might involve setting clear boundaries, finding ways to work around the negative behaviors, or focusing on building a strong team culture independently.

4.     Focus on self awareness and Professional Development: Use the situation as a learning opportunity. Reflect on what makes a good leader and what doesn’t, and use these insights to develop your own leadership skills.

5.     Consider Long-Term Solutions: If the situation doesn't improve and continues to negatively impact you or the team, consider long-term solutions such as transferring departments, seeking a different role, or even exploring opportunities outside the organization.

Now to the good. Understanding this duality can also prevent us from our preconceived notions as leaders about our team members and colleagues too. And get in the way of the good stuff.

As a leader, understand that our teams can be…

Resilient and still need a break
 Kind and need to be firm about defining boundaries
 Decisive and also change their mind.

Good and bad duality, we can’t be so rigid in our understanding of people. Of course it’s so much easier to label people. We do it all the time. It’s how our brains work to better understand… 

You’re THIS person so I’ll work with you in THIS way. 

We’re busy so it’s easier to make things simple. The problem is, we’re not simple.  Neither are the humans around us. 

If we truly want to focus on a healthy culture, we can't dismiss experiences that aren’t our own OR be too simple in our definitions of others because it's not our initial/singular experience. 

Two things can be true. Duality exists. Actually we have a lot more sides than just two. But it’s a good place to start. 
 And the workplace will be better if we understand that.