Club Insider

What is Holding You Back From Being a Better Manager or Leader?

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Karen Woodard-ChavezKaren Woodard-Chavez

Being a manager or leader is most often a choice. Sometimes, it is not your choice, as you may find yourself thrust into a new position you do not really want. Hmm... something for you to ponder... do you really want to be in the management or leadership position you currently hold? It is not about doing what you think you should do but about doing the right thing.

My last two articles for Club Insider have been focused on how to effectively deal with having a bad boss and how to identify if you are a bad boss. In this article, the focus will be on what holds you back from being a better boss. The simple answer and reality is that what holds us back from being better is always ourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves to identify, understand and eliminate our blind spots. That is a bit of a conundrum in and of itself, as a blind spot is something that obscures our vision. We cannot always see that we have a blind spot. Therefore, it is helpful to earnestly ask for and really listen to feedback about how you lead or manage and what needs to change. You have to invite those conversations. When you invite them rather than have your staff finding themselves at the end of their rope and wanting to stage an intervention with you, there is a LOT less drama.

Let me give you an example... 28 years ago, when I was a much younger, less mature, and frankly, not a very compassionate manager/owner, I was holding a management meeting at one of my businesses. The energy in the meeting was not good, participation was lacking, and I could feel something was very wrong. Rather than continue on with the planned agenda, I paused and asked the group what was up. One very brave young manager said to me "Karen, we love this club, but it is really hard working with you at times, and we all want to quit." I was quite taken aback. I had to pause for another moment to make sure I would respond appropriately rather than emotionally, thanked her for sharing that with me and assured them that the last thing I wanted was for any of them to leave the club.

As you might guess, the meeting took a very different direction in that moment. I invited them to tell me more. They shared with me that they felt I was intimidating, did not recognize their efforts and nothing was ever good enough. Wow, that was quite helpful feedback. I apologized to them, thanked them again and explained that the qualities they listed were certainly not what I was intending to do or be (a blind spot). We continued to discuss how I could act in a way that would be more effective for them. They shared with me what they needed, and I agreed to do my best to do that with them. I also asked for agreement that they would provide me with feedback on how the necessary changes were progressing.

That verrry difficult meeting was a turning point for me as a manager, leader and owner. And, it was a turning point for my managers, not only in that business but my other businesses as well. I am forever grateful for that opportunity. It taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Note to Self: When you sense something is wrong, do not avoid it; acknowledge it and work with it.

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