Welcome to Week 22 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-kit! My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others. So grab a journal and an accountability partner to make these practices even more powerful for you!
In last week’s post we discussed letting go of your “shoulds”. Did you see how your saboteurs show up in your shoulds?
Another form of should is labels we assign to ourselves and others that keep us in judgment mode. Our brains’ autopilot modes work mostly under the radar. We aren’t even aware most of the time about the labels we place on others. Mostly unconscious, these labels become our biases—the way we see the world, which we assume is the only way to see the world. We assume it’s the truth, the way things are, rather than our perspective, which is just the lens through which we see reality.
What’s even worse is that a stressed-out brain typically gets stuck in only seeing what it believes. These judgments are the opposite of practicing curiosity and prevent leaders from creating authentic connections and seeing the diverse set of gifts in others. They prevent us from learning how to motivate others and drawing out their best contributions.
More than ever, our organizational environments demand leaders who need to be able to work with different kinds of people globally, people with different cultural norms, beliefs, talents, and ways of behaving. Our labels prevent us from seeing and respecting others for who they really are versus poor substitutes for who we expect them to be.
Our labels limit collaboration, creativity, connection, and contribution from a diverse set of perspectives, and they have a bottom-line impact on our results.
This Week’s Tool:
Think of a person you don’t like or write off. What are the negative labels you place on them? (e.g. “lazy” etc)? When would it serve you to exhibit those undesirable behaviors (e.g. would being ok with being “lazy” help you delegate better)?
Now write down in what ways you also exhibit these undesirable traits (when are times you are “lazy” etc). Find some things that are common about you and this other person. Can you find one thing you like or admire about him or her?
Make a list of what you’re curious about in this individual and ask him or her.
Make a list of the desirable labels you take on unconsciously (e.g. I am always “responsible”). How does the need to always live up to this label impact your leadership?