Leaders, it’s time you get comfortable being uncomfortable

Let me introduce you to an worker who not too long ago joined a brand new employer. As her earlier job, Reema was a high performer at a fast-growing group the place she contributed loads of concepts. Everybody knew of her unimaginable management expertise. Her insights decided most selections. Hers was the voice everybody stopped to take heed to in conferences—everybody apart from Jared, the founding father of the corporate.

Final week, Reema gave discover that she accepted a job at one other firm. She would have higher pay, extra visibility, and extra autonomy. She wrote a LinkedIn publish about how grateful she was for the unimaginable expertise at Jared’s firm. Jared sang her praises within the company-wide Slack channel. No laborious emotions. It’s simply enterprise. Folks transfer on.

It appeared all was proper with the world—apart from the truth that this whole course of didn’t have to occur. Sure, Reema left as a result of she discovered a greater alternative, however Reema additionally left as a result of she felt stifled and undervalued by Jared. And Shamika earlier than her skilled the same scenario . . . and Nuranne earlier than them. Notably, the HR division didn’t blink twice at these departures as a result of the numbers have been all within the vary of wholesome turnover.


It’s the basic line from politicians that they’re stepping down from workplace to “spend extra time with household.” This can be true. However what are they not saying?

Alternative for studying and development hides within the views we don’t need to hear. The views that confuse, infuriate, and problem us. The views we don’t usually hear till somebody leaves the group, if ever. So how as a frontrunner can you higher meet, and embrace, inconvenient truths? I present a couple of concepts.

Normalize opposition

From time to time, it could actually assist to have somebody on the staff who by no means agrees. This satan’s advocate particular person can assist flip the tables in a useful means and broaden your dialogue. Group members ought to take turns taking up this position so the accountability doesn’t fall to people who find themselves naturally outspoken or see issues otherwise due to their backgrounds. Taking turns additionally reduces the probability any particular person is stigmatized for slowing down the dialog or being the proverbial “stick within the mud.”

The implicit energy imbalance between chief and staff members makes asking individuals to share what’s lacking really feel dangerous. As an alternative, bake the identical easy questions into evaluating any thought. To start with, ask your self what are the upsides, in addition to the downsides? Use no matter language fits your tradition. It may be a professional or a con. Alternatively, you can use plusses and minuses when doing all your evaluation. The secret is to create predictable areas the place others can share totally different views.

Interrogate your individual response 

Inconvenient truths are by definition inconvenient. They take time and power (we don’t have) to interact with. They mess with the comfortable narratives we’ve got about who we’re (usually, good, well-meaning, succesful individuals). If you’re upset when a colleague or somebody who’s offering you suggestions factors out a mistake or an instance of unhealthy management—that’s okay. It’s regular to be upset. However don’t let that be the top of the dialog, the place you shut off and storm out.

As an alternative, think about what behaviors, mindsets, actions have led your dialog accomplice to really feel this manner. Additional, think about what would it not imply if it have been true? What would possibly you be taught from this alternate, down the road.


Think about what you’re dropping

What are the prices of you denying or not wrestling with their perspective? Additional, ask your self what studying and development are you lacking out on by ignoring inconvenient truths? Along with turnover, think about the influence of your unwillingness to interact with the subject on work tradition, productiveness, innovation, and belief.

Refusing to interact with others’ views usually means making others uneasy to protect your individual consolation. This kind of one-sided burden is just too usually taken up by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, individuals of shade) workers.

As of late, adopting “a development mindset” is a well-liked phrase. Many corporations even identify “having a development mindset” as a core worth. In a nutshell, it means going past the issues that are straightforward and palatable, to embracing the issues you don’t need to hear and somebody has possible taken danger to share with you. It might probably seem like the staff isn’t going to hit the gross sales targets for the quarter, that you’ve created a poisonous work tradition, or that they’re actually leaving the corporate as a result of they felt you didn’t worth their contributions.

Whereas extremely essential, it’s not nearly retaining the Reemas and different invaluable workers of the world or about creating work cultures during which everybody can thrive; it’s additionally about getting out of your individual means, as a frontrunner. Don’t cease on the handy reality, search out, embrace, and have interaction the inconvenient. It may be key to supercharging your individual studying and capabilities.

Elaine Lin Hering is a lecturer at Harvard Regulation Faculty and a managing accomplice of Triad Consulting Group, the place she has labored with leaders from throughout the globe and throughout a number of industries to develop expertise essential to work higher, collectively.