Do you know all there is to leadership? Do you have it all down pat? If so, I would venture to bet that you are guilty of having “ostrichitis” or of taking the ostrich approach. What is that? It is where you are burying your head in the sand and everyone else can see your big rump sticking up in the air. I heard a friend the other day calling it the great comb-over of leadership – denial. None of us has this all figured out nor is done learning about their personal leadership and how it affects co-workers and subordinates. No one knows that better than they do either – they live with it every day. They see our flaws as leaders as clearly as you see an ostrich’s behind in the air.
I know that visual is a little extreme but it did get your attention, didn’t it? Now that you are aware that your flaws are showing you can’t be in denial any more. You either agree to let them show for everyone to see or you commit to doing something about them. I guarantee that your work life and your productivity will improve if you decide to do something about your denial.
The first thing to do is to engage in some self-awareness. Clearly that is lacking if you were not even aware that you were in denial. The best leaders know exactly who they are, how they function and how their actions and decisions impact others. They leverage this knowledge to create environments and situations in which people want to work for them and want to do a great job. That makes it easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
One way to gain self-awareness is to write in a guided journal. A good one is The Discovery Journal available at Lulu. It has starter sentences and phrases that guide you through an inner journey to self-discovery. You can couple that with a coach or group coaching to further enhance your self-awareness.
Another way to gain self-awareness is to sit down with your staff and co-workers and have a good discussion with each of them. It is not easy to admit to them that you are clear that you have not been the best leader in the world but when you do they will probably be glad to give you tips on how you can work with them better. I agree that this is tough and that it takes a big person to do it but I have seen it be amazingly successful with some of my clients. I challenge you do try it. You will learn a great deal this way. Of course you will have to follow through on what you hear but that in itself is a sign of good leadership.
Those are three beginning steps to get past denial. It will take work but recognition of it is the first big step you can take. Good luck – I would love to hear how you do with this.