If hours of youtube bloopers and blunders videos are to be believed, it appears that humans love to take great delight in others’ misfortune. We love a good laugh at someone else’s expense; usually secretly glad it’s not us. Most people try to avoid mistakes and looking silly, particularly in a professional setting, as they fear it will detract from their reputation and, on a deeper level, cause shame and embarrassment.
Some people waffle, some speak in circles, and others simply hijack the conversation with their own agenda. It can be hard to enter a conversation knowing you have some important ideas to cover, only to walk away disappointed and frustrated, yet again, because the conversation got derailed, and you were left to book another meeting time to try again.
The issue with gender equality in workforces today is primarily the result of what researchers call ‘second- generation bias’. It is not overt or malicious, but it is why men don’t feel they are being biased, and why women may not feel explicitly or deliberately disadvantaged ... even if both are true on some level.
Imagine you are suffering from a lack of visibility at work. Your boss tells you that you need to let people know the value you are adding. You need to “raise your profile and build a brand” with other stakeholders. The problem is, in order to do that, you need to draw attention to the good work you are doing. And this makes you feel icky. No one likes a braggart, and you don't like to boast. Tough situation. And you are not alone.
Playing favourites may not be your intention, but with perception steering the ship, it could be the reality. As leaders, we need to make a conscious effort to include all our people. We need to spend time equally, engage with those we may not get along with, and ensure all our people feel heard, valued and included. It’s easy enough to do, once we realise we need to do it.
Shiva was frustrated. She had just lost her early morning work time… again. Her colleague had seen her arrive and had taken the opportunity to ‘pop in for a quick chat’ before the day started. The first time it happened, Shiva politely indulged her colleague in the early morning chit-chat, thinking it was a once off, but after three days in a row, Shiva began to get upset.
To be known as someone who does valuable work, we need to be seen as someone who does valuable work. When Executives and CEOs look to their talent pipelines for the next generation of leaders, the people who grab their attention are people who are known to them, or known to others who then bring them to their attention. They stand out not just because of the good work they are doing, but because they are known to be doing good work – their efforts are visible.
No-one likes a bragger, (you know, someone who incessantly toots their own horn), so when we’re given advice that we need to be more visible, share our accomplishments more and generally put ourselves forward a little more assertively to get ahead in our career, it’s hard not to feel a little sick at the thought.
Using your moods to convey what your words don't is lazy communication and eats away at trust.
Why won't they step up?
What am I paying them for?
Great leaders build engagement. Engagement in meetings requires contribution and involvement. Many leaders I work with complain of a lack of engagement from their team members during meetings, despite their best efforts. This is not always about their leadership or their teams’ engagement; often there are other factors at play.
Getting the best out of others is not an easy task. Helping your team members to be more effective, more productive, and more engaged is not always as simple as asking them to be so, or equipping them with the skills or support to be so. In fact, sometimes it’s not even about the very problem that’s causing the problem. To be an effective leader of people requires us to be flexible in the way we approach and support our people. Sometimes it even calls on us to allow the problem to get worse before it gets better.