Last month I was working with a client and she told me that she hardly ever talks to her boss. She kept repeating how he lacked self-awareness. My client and her boss mostly communicate through email and an occasional group meeting. She meets with her boss on a one-on-one basis maybe once a month. She often cancels and reschedules. A leader can’t support their employees if they don’t have a way to meet and dig into issues with their employees.
Managers are afraid to be vulnerable with their employees. They don’t know how to deal with their own insecurities. It’s this lack of self-awareness that hurts their relationships. They hide themselves from others because they are afraid of people’s judgements. This leads to mistrust and confusion, which causes employees to find a better job and leader at another company.
I know this because I’ve struggled with a lot of these fears myself. It’s not easy being a leader. It’s hard to be vulnerable and listen to your employees if your boss hasn't done the inner work to build her/her self-awareness. A leader’s ego is often their greatest weakness. They want to be in control of all the situations. This, of course, isn’t possible.
There has to be a change in how managers view their role as a leader. The only way your leader is going to get the best out of you is if they deal with their own shit. When they make time to work on themselves they build their awareness. This awareness allows them to navigate their weaknesses. If they can be wise enough to understand their weaknesses this shows their team members that they can be vulnerable. The skill of vulnerability allows other people to support them and also helps the leader build better relationships.
This is what tribes did for thousands of years. They support each other for the good of the community. The quick and agile hunters would attack first then the stronger hunters would support and carry the meat home. Everyone is needed for a successful hunt. There were no egos. If there were, they wouldn’t last in the tribe for very long.
Your leader must stop managing you. You are a grown ass person. They are wasting your talents if they have to tell you what to do. You know what you need to do. You need someone to coach you. Someone that listens and helps guide you, instead of solving your problems for you.
It all starts with curiosity. If you struggle with a task or project. Your boss should start with asking questions instead of pointing out your faults. Find out what is really going on. When a leader knows how to ask good questions, they encourage you to speak up and learn from your mistakes. Building this empathy muscle helps them reduce their judgements and helps you grow.
It’s important to show your boss that you can handle honest feedback. This will help them let go of their fears of coaching you. Once they earn your trust, you’ll see that they can really shed light on your strengths and weaknesses to get the most out of your career.
It all comes back to being vulnerable. Can your boss be vulnerable enough to build an authentic relationship with you? Are you willing to dive into your weaknesses and strengths and learn from them?
If your boss is vulnerable this shows they’ve done the deep work to let go of their fears and work with their inner judgments. When your boss stops being too hard on themselves, they can stop being too hard on you. Accountability is important for any successful partnership, but micromanaging is damaging for everyone.
Your boss is dealing with a lot of issues. We all are after such a rough couple years. This is why building your empathy for your boss is important. They aren’t perfect and will never be perfect, but if you can appreciate that they are on their own journey that you can also lower your judgments of them.
We all need to be a little more empathetic to each other. Care about what we are going through. When we understand other people a little better we can better support each other. This is a great Ted talk by Brené Brown about the Power of Vulnerability.
Leaders often micromanage others out of fear from childhood, pressure from upper management, and a myriad of other issues. When a leader leads and stops micromanaging then the employee can fly free with the work. The employee isn’t afraid to make a mistake. They know it’s a part of the job. It’s this style of leadership that will create a culture of growth instead of status quo.
The only way leaders let go of their fears is if they dig into themselves and use this self-awareness to build better relationships. Employees leave companies because managers don’t navigate their weaknesses very well. Leaders can retain their best people by making time to coach them instead of manage them.
It starts with your leader’s daily routines to dig into their thoughts and emotions on a regular basis. I’ve interviewed hundreds of successful people and the common thread for their success is self reflection. They learn from their mistakes reviewing and getting a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. When they are willing to dig into their thoughts and emotions it helps them be more authentic and make adjustments to be a better leader. This takes courage. The courage to dig into their mistakes and be a little uncomfortable. They use this discomfort to grow personally and professionally.
You can start building better relationships with your employees by getting the Leadership Manual Guide. You'll get the mini-guide that walks you through the process of becoming an elite level leader that retains their best employees and teaches them how to problem solve on their own.
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