4 Potentially Awkward Things Leaders Do

AwkwardFamilyPet3There are certain things that make sense to us. Other things? Not so much. Some stuff is just a little awkward, right? Some people’s working styles seem reasonable. Other folks? Not really. Other times maybe it’s apparel decisions. We see those skinny jeans, and wonder silently how they can possibly be comfortable. Or even healthy for a fella. But whatever.

I’d opine that sometimes doing things that feel awkward isn’t just OK, it’s necessary for individuals and teams to grow. Sometimes you need to do things that others might consider counter-intuitive.

Now it’s important to note here that I’m not saying you do all of these all the time, or that each of these will work for every person. All I’m saying is that these things, while helpful, will often feel weird to folks, and there’s not a thing wrong with that.

Additionally, I really can’t be held responsible for any awkward moments that ensue. Well, awkward_Awkward-s500x352-2987-580actually, it depends. If it’s a hilarious awkward moment, then yes, I’ll take credit. If it’s one of those awkward moments where you’re packing your stuff into a cardboard box because you’ve just recently been made “available to the industry,” then I’d prefer not to carry that burden. Or that cardboard box, for that matter.

So here are a few awkward things you can do to help yourself and your team grow:

1. Ask that person who hates every idea of yours what they think of your most recent one.

Why? Because in order for your idea to evolve into its best possible form, it needs to be poked at, prodded at, kicked, punched, judo-thrown, and otherwise assaulted. There are folks who love nothing more than to pick at everyone’s ideas. Yes, sometimes it’s too freaking much and they need to chill. But at the same time, it really can be an asset to you because if anyone’s going to find the problem with your idea that you’re missing, it’s them.

2. Say no.

Now listen (or read, as it were) carefully. I’m not advocating for insubordination. I wouldn’t suggest simply refusing to do something and then blaming it on that bald Workplace Mojo bloggerspeakerconsultant guy.
At the same time, maybe you should review the sixty-three-and-a-half meetings you attend in a week. Perhaps you don’t need to go to every blessed meeting to which you’re invited. Perhaps you do need some alone time. Some well-meaning folks will tell you that life, and especially corporate life, is one big networking event (You know, never eat alone and all that jazz). They’re wrong. Sometimes you just need to stop (collaborate and listen – Matt is back with a brand new invention). Work on that whole self-awareness thing. Breathe. Listen. Learn. Feel. Be.

3. Give enough of a $#!* about your team and organization that you’re willing to have tough conversations.

One of the most important assets any leader and teammate can have is someone who cares enough to tell them the hard truth that they may not see. You’re not trying to embarrass them. You’re not trying to prove how smart you are.
But if you feel like your teammate/colleague/friend might be missing something, talk with them about it. Care more about the organization’s good than the temporary interpersonal discomfort you’re going to feel while having the conversation. I can’t even begin to explain how valuable folks like that are. When you’ve built that level of trust and you can be that vulnerable, it can be a beautiful, albeit sometimes awkward, thing.

What’s also really cool is when leaders actually…

4. Ask for feedback.
captain-obviousI know. What a brain buster, Matt. You should see me right now. I have this whole Captain Obvious get-up on. I’m not sure the spandex is all that flattering but whatever. It’s bedazzled, so that has to count for something.

One thing I appreciate about my current and previous boss is that they both ask and asked for feedback all the time. If they were out there au naturel, they wanted to know. Is it always easy? No, it’s not. Sometimes it’s awkward because you’ll have to say something that you’d rather not have to say. But because you care about your boss or colleague, you tell the kind, often hard, truth.

By the same token, we each need to ask for feedback ourselves. But do you know how potentially awkward it can be to do? Thankfully, I have a boss who’s pretty direct so he’ll give the feedback I need. My previous boss wasn’t as direct, but was so kind-hearted that it was easy to take criticism and coaching from him because you could clearly see it came from a place of caring. But it can still, even then, be a little awkward at times. Same with this guy. Nicest guy on the planet, but cares enough about me as a friend and leader and human that he’ll point out stuff that I could do differently.

Why does it matter? Because as leaders, not only do we have to be willing to do things that make us uncomfortable if it’s for the good of the team and/or organization; but also we have to provide an environment within which it’s safe for others to do the same.

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