Is it time for some "Spring Cleaning" of your Leadership Style?
Spring cleaning can be a very tiring exercise. We all accumulate items in our lives we need to discard eventually and springtime, specifically spring cleaning, provide a good opportunity to do this pruning. It might be clothing, books, even furniture, but we all deal with this in different ways.
Our style in working with others, especially our communication and leadership styles, need occasional cleaning up as well. Things accumulate or we leave them out and after a while we lose sight of the omission or the extra baggage. Many people notice this and some say nothing while others may talk among themselves about the changes they see. Only rarely will others tell us directly when we need this cleaning up of our styles.
How can we ensure that we get this necessary cleaning? There are a few ways. One of the best ways to make sure we keep our house clean is to keep people around us we can get pure and timely feedback from. This takes maturity, confidence and a good sense of emotional intelligence to do. Many people like to surround themselves with "yes men" or positive strokers and they can be a little helpful until they stop being honest in this positiveness. The best feedback we ever receive is pure, honest and timely. It is the breakfast of champions.
This feedback can come in formal and informal ways. The informal ways take some time to develop and the more open you are about hearing this, especially without defensiveness, the more often and helpful it will be. I can remember well a situation when one of my employees told me I was "intimidating" to other workers. When I first heard this I was shocked. I have always felt that I was an open and friendly person and the word intimidating was one I had never heard before. Here is the context that helped me learn about this "blind spot." At that time I was doing a significant amount of training with employees who had high school diplomas at best. I had a degree in Engineering Physics and an MBA at the time. I was teaching this group basic algebra, a breeze for me, but a chore for many of them. I was not hearing or seeing the challenges they were encountering. Boy did I have a wake up call.
"Blind Spots" are a great thing to deal with in spring cleaning. One of the best models to consider when thinking about blind spots is the Johari Window. The Johari Window breaks your world into 4 quadrants;
What you don't know and what others don't know about you (Unknown)
What you don't know but others do know about you (Blind Spot)
What you know but others don't know about you (Private space)
What you know and others know about you (Arena)
The intent of timely feedback from others is to minimize the size of the Blind Spot.
Think about your own "house" and answer this question: What blind spots am I not aware of? Better yet, who could I ask to identify these blind spots?
I'll talk more about specific feedback mechanisms in a future post. For now, get ready for that Spring Cleaning.