In this article, our Founder Bruce Hancock shares his insights on the dangers of leading from inside one’s comfort zone and being reactive instead of proactive in times of crisis. Leaders must communicate with their team and not be invisible in order to inspire their staff through times of uncertainty.
I call leaders who lack a strong sense of presence and having difficulty connecting with other people, the “invisible ones”.
Let me explain: as a leader the focus when it comes to our team members, is often on skills, techniques, and knowledge. The challenge can be: how do you encourage these qualities in people, while at the same time bringing forward a strong sense of influence to the team – be an inspiration, not a know-it-all? Such doubts and feelings of inadequacies are common in leaders.
A practical example
Recently, I was speaking to a leader I coach, let’s call him Tom, about his comfort zone around a potentially destructive behavior. This particular conduct of Tom was associated with a strong sense of “being tough and independent”. In times of stress, this resulted for him in a tendency to close off, to put a shield up and to push others away.
Tom shared he felt he had a good grip on it and could control himself in this habit. I became curious and asked, “what is more important, how comfortable you feel with that behavior, or how others experience that behavior?”
It then dawned on Tom he had approached it the wrong way, that how his team experiences him makes all the difference. He realized, by “closing down”, he allowed for the team to let guesswork surface, resulting in irrational team decisions. He became further isolated as his team acquired the attitude: “I will put off approaching Tom for now”.
What can leaders do?
Here are a few suggestions for leaders to get closer to their team and other stakeholders, be less invisible and more effective:
1.Be curious in others.
2.Ask questions and seek feedback.
3.Share what you have experienced, perhaps challenges you have overcome.
4.Don’t be afraid to let the human part of your surface, and show natural vulnerability.
What about Tom?
I ended up giving Tom a few suggestions to start working on:
1. Observe others’ emotions and limit judgment
2. Accept feelings are important to most people
3. Establish Feedback Loops: is what the team heard in fact what you meant.
4. Make conscious efforts to interact daily with team members.
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