Of all of the things you may ever have to do as a leader, or any person in a leadership position—nothing is more time consuming than what it means to keep an eye on people, and most specifically yourself. Looking inwards, being self-critical at all times can sometimes be mentally exhausting.
Someone is always looking.
There is the saying that ‘Someone is always looking.’ And particularly as a leader, everyone is looking. Not just that those people that are going to do your performance review, but most importantly those that look up to you, for guidance, as well as answers.
But what is it about bout being self-critical, self-conscious, that makes it so tiresome?
Hmmm! Before I go into detail, I want to say something important here—profound even! As someone who is looking to make a better tomorrow, today—as someone who is passionate about developing people to be better; to develop better leaders so that they can develop people further, I don’t write these blog topics from some metaphorical ivory tower of perfection.
That’s not it all. One of the main reasons for these posts is that it forces me into a state of self-awareness. A means of keeping me accountable to certain leadership ideals that I too need to work on. I’m not perfect. Far from it. But for me, a better tomorrow, starts with small self-improvements today. Theory is easy. Practice is something else.
Being self-critical is a key factor of maintaining standards and personally refusing to cut corners. After all if you’re not self-critical . . . if you don’t take time for self-reflection, then you’re personally at risk of developing double standards.
Before you know it, you’ll be picking people up for office misdemeanors or having to pull people into line for things that you yourself are guilty of.
And I am Guilty! The irony is ‘I Know I’m Guilty.’
As a leader you might find yourself as the Unofficial Morale Officer within the work environment. That means its easy to find yourself making the back handed comment for a laugh, an absurdly politically incorrect joke, or perhaps even worse just saying something that you just shouldn’t have (i.e. Something sarcastic). Urgh!!!
But as a person in a position of leadership . . . there is no lunch break, there is no downtime. As a leader you are always ‘on the move’ setting the example, being the example, and make no mistake. You’re being watched! Despite being 2018, and the liberal freedoms we have, guess what! You’re being judged!!! *gasp*
Yes. Like it or not, sub-consciously people are watching you and judging, forming an opinion of you that is ever developing and changing . . . a complex picture of you and your personality that keeps growing. If you’re really unlucky, you might hear something being said about you, that you’re not supposed to hear.
There has to be an Upside!
There is! (Thankfully) You see, one of the reasons for writing this post now, is not only to do with self-awareness, but also to add an element of humanity to all of this. I wrote an article about maintaining standards, but I’ve been guilty of cutting corners!
You see I’m not perfect. I let my guard down, sometimes at the wrong times, but particularly around other managers and people who ‘know’ me, I can relax, but there is always that part of me that has to be switched on . . . to be the person to draw the line when required.
But you’re not perfect. You’re not supposed to be—you’re human and you will have flaws. You’re being watched, people will take note, and in 2018, people will use those ‘less than flawless times’ against you. It’ll most likely be HR!
It’s not fair!
Nope—it isn’t. But as a leader, you’re gonna have to call timeout with people around you, and you’ll need to bring them back onto the shining path.
So imagine this. You’re addressing an issue, and the perpetrator, drops into their child ego state. Instead of taking things on board, and moving on, they fire back; “But you do the same thing!”
Things just got real. You just got called a hypocritical fraud! How are you going to handle it?
Deny it, and hope that raw authority sets things right? Say that your situation was different? (We’ve all heard that!)
Or do something else entirely?
Exposed and Vulnerable.
I’ve learnt that when it comes to any sort of counselling, ALWAYS do it away from others. It allows for tension to be released, stress to be diffused and above all else, privacy! At best, the short term outburst and conflict can lead to new opportunities for personal growth, for both parties. Don’t fear conflict!
I had a scenario like this, where someone tried to proclaim innocence by saying I had done the same thing. There’s only one thing you can do with something like this.
Rather than focus on the singular issue, you have a golden opportunity to address the issue as a collective. This is where you have to be an adult about things, accept your personal guilt, and then set the scene to improve yourselves together. But the secret is to hold one another accountable and to work towards improvement.
If you make a commitment and fail to deliver any progress or effort, then the whole exercise becomes useless.
If you can make progress and achieve change, then people will notice and your level of respect and influence within the team as a leader will improve.
People are always watching, but don’t forget to watch yourself.