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How Leaders can Break Free of the Fear of Criticism

How Leaders can Break Free of the Fear of Criticism

How Leaders can Break Free of the Fear of Criticism

If someone tries to offer you feedback, how open are you to accept it? How do you think you will react? Do you immediately get defensive, anticipating critical feedback, thinking up of justifications?

Don’t worry if this happens to you. Most of us do not welcome criticism. We do like to form opinions and offer them freely to those around us, however, when it comes to receiving feedback, we are mostly uncomfortable.

If you are a leader in an organization, you must realize that taking in regular feedback is extremely important in the workplace. Having a clear path of communication with your employees is critically important for teams to function properly.

It Is Hard to Accept Feedback

Most leaders are not comfortable receiving feedback. They prefer to mentor teams, help them out at every stage, and offer constructive advice. But most prefer not to hear what people have to honestly say about them.

The first and most common issue that can be observed in the workplace is that leaders rarely get honest feedback. Due to hierarchy, employees have seen leaders move up the ladder, and to ensure they are always in good graces with them, they offer only positive feedback.

This results in over inflated egos. Leaders not only become full of themselves but also ignore the reality of the workplace around them.

“Most leaders have gotten used to having their egos stroked by employees seeking to be in their good graces. This puts an organization at a disadvantage due to the lack of honesty and intimacy”

Another reason that makes it difficult to accept feedback is our human nature itself. It is true that we are curious creatures and want to learn about everything around us. At the same time, we are not comfortable with learning about ourselves.

We want people to accept us for who we are. We do not want others to highlight our flaws, and that demotivates even our well-wishers to come forward with honest feedback.

Triggers of Rejection

Even if sometimes leaders do receive feedbacks, most will choose to ignore and completely reject them. According to Tushar Vakil, an award-winning executive leadership coach, master facilitator, and keynote speaker I recently spoke with on my Rant & Grow podcast, there are three things that trigger rejection.

1. Truth trigger: If someone confronts a leader directly about the flaws or shortcomings in their leadership, it offends them. It is rare to find people that accept truth, even when it’s coming from someone close to them.

2. Relationship trigger: As it happens in the workplace, every relationship in the workplace has certain dynamics that can also trigger rejection. If a colleague comes up with honest feedback, it comes attached with the emotional baggage of his/her position and job title in the company. Due to this relationship dynamic, leaders will find it uncomfortable to accept the feedback.

3. Identity trigger: This revolves more around personal issues of a leader including their childhood baggage and unhealed traumas. Our behavior is defined by our childhood and it’s often reflected in our actions when we grow up. Sometimes a leader finds it hard to digest criticism because of deep-rooted issues and insecurities (i.e. growing up with an overbearing mother).

How to Overcome the Fear of Criticism

The first step is to acknowledge that critical and honest feedback will not only improve your bond with employees but will help you make informed decisions.

“When your employees get to share their concerns freely, you become more aware of the dynamics in the workplace, helping you make better decisions.”

To overcome fear of criticism, the second and the most important step is self-awareness. You should be aware of your behavior and of those around you.

As it is rightly said, ‘awareness is half the cure’

If you provide a safe space for your employees to share feedback, you will get to know about the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership style. 

When your employees feel comfortable sharing their opinion and know that their concerns are being heard, they will open up further. This creates intimacy and trust and translates to a more productive workplace.

“As a leader, you must know when you are restricting the flow of intimacy and trust in the workplace by allowing the inflation of your ego.”

By keeping yourself aware and connected to your team, you can easily manage the first two triggers i.e. truth and relationship triggers.

For your deep-rooted childhood issues, you must realize that they will interfere with your work someday or the other. A leader must opt for one-on-one coaching, and possibly even therapy if they have these issues.

With proper coaching from the right experts, these insecurities can be understood and checked.

“If you want to be an effective leader, you must face your true self and overcome your fears and traumas.”

Once you do that, you will find yourself more accepting and willing to receive criticisms and work on yourself accordingly.

Once you overcome the fear of criticism, you should remember to accept it in the right way as well. Some criticism is projection by the other person. As you keep your ego in check, you will be able to discern the difference and make best use of the information to help yourself and others.

Listening to employees and working on yourself will help you gain trust in your leadership. You must remember that one should never stop learning, and being open to criticism allows you to keep motivating yourself to grow.

Check out the Rant & Grow podcast episode with Tushar. Maybe you’ll discover some wisdom for your own life. You can listen to the podcast right here.

Business Innovation Brief

How to Trade in Weak Love for Strong Love

How to Trade in Weak Love for Strong Love

How to Trade in Weak Love for Strong Love

Every human being on this planet spends considerable time searching for love. Today is the era of speed dating, matchmaking, online dating, and every other modality you can think of.

It’s no longer a question of being able to find love, the issue is more often than not finding someone to hang on to. Sometimes we are not the right person and other times we start blaming “them” or point fingers at “them” for not being able to understand us. That’s when the search continues.

The real challenge is finding the right love and sustaining it. When we are not clear about what we want from life or who we are, we cling onto people around us to give meaning to our lives.

“Expecting others to fulfill us, or to give meaning to the love we desire, leads to weak love.”

Strong Love

According to my recent conversation on the Rant & Grow podcast with Denna Babul, Author of her recent Simon & Schuster book Love Strong — Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life, and Take Your Power Back!, it is important to understand that it is not only women who are searching for strong love. Men also want strong love!

“All sentient creatures want to experience strong love.”

Our efforts will be in vain if we do not understand the difference between weak and strong love. For our love to be strong, we must first bring peace and symmetry into our own lives.

We must be confident in giving and receiving love. We must focus on ourselves and understand that sometimes the wrongs around us are reflections of what we have difficulty accepting about ourselves.

“A key step to enabling strong love in our lives is self-awareness, and the application of emotional intelligence in taking full responsibility for our own lives.”

Once we internalize this truth, we will be able to accept who we are and also accept the way others are. When we are giving or receiving weak love, we start to doubt ourselves, we feel misunderstood, and get angry.

Sometimes we even get out-of-control or start to over-control those around us. That is why it is essential to first understand ourselves. That is the only way we can stay happy and encouraged in our relationships.

Signs of Weak Love

If you take a pause and focus on yourself, you will be able to notice when you are giving or receiving weak love. Denna Babul believes that everybody is different in how they perceive themselves in relationships.

There are times when we hear the same advice from many people, even strangers, but we go out searching for advice only when we are not steady in what we want to receive in life and can’t make decisions.

In reality, we are just looking for someone who will tell us what we want to hear. This is a sign of weak love. 

When you get to a point in life where you have done everything you can for love and it’s still not enough, then you have to rebuild yourself and focus. You must start to look within. Think about what you have been doing and then start accepting yourself.

Identify Your True Self

We usually look for a small break from a relationship by seeking something fun. However, an emotionally healthy person will know that this is only temporary. You must look for something deeper.

“To understand your true self, you must first focus and find out your core value system.”

Our value system has strong roots in our childhood and how we have perceived our parents. For instance, one who has had authoritative parents, tends to avoid such figures in their adulthood, and often develop disdain for authority figures all together.

It is similar to letting your inner child drive your life. You must accept and overcome these childhood traumas and see that your value system is not dependent on anyone else, not even your parents.

“You are not responsible for what happened to you as a child, but you are responsible for the narrative you allow from it to shape you as an adult.”

Denna calls this the mirror effect — when you let your past impact your relationships in the present. If you keep on living a lie and manifest your version of the truth, you will end up giving and receiving weak love.

Your core values could be trust, love, acceptance, kindness, integrity, and inclusivity. When you figure out your core system, you can begin to understand yourself, what you want from life, and who is worthy of your time and attention.

“People in their jobs work hard to get better and evolve, but often don’t do the same in relationships.”

There are phases in a relationship like attraction, idealization, and commitment. When you are just attracted to someone, you may back off as soon as the real self of the other person comes out.

If you want a long-term relationship, you must understand your core values and try to figure out if the other person acknowledges and respects them. You also need to understand their core value system to align your relationship and reciprocate the same respect.

Once you know what you want and who you are, you can set your narrative. Seek your true self and achieve strong love in your life.

Check out the Rant & Grow podcast episode with Denna. Maybe you’ll discover some wisdom for your own life. You can listen to the podcast right here.

Business Innovation Brief

How to Lessen Anxiety and Stress at Work

How to Lessen Anxiety and Stress at Work

How to Lessen Anxiety and Stress at Work

Almost all of us have felt anxious and stressed in the workplace at one time or the other. There may be some important presentations coming up, high-impact decisions, or interpersonal conflicts that could trigger possible anxiety in the office.

However, anxiety doesn’t happen only before a high stakes meeting, this feeling can also happen to people consistently due to hectic routines. Mental health problems inhibit employees from giving their full selves to ongoing projects. Leaders need to be tuned in to recognize such issues and help resolve them. The outbreak of the current pandemic Covid-19 has taken a huge toll on the mental health of everyone around us.

Anxiety in Times of Covid-19

We are facing an unprecedented situation due to the pandemic of Covid-19 that brought the entire world to a standstill. Besides the financial pressure, people all over the world are also overwhelmed by the anxiety and fear associated with this pandemic.

In these times of desperation, employees have become insecure about their jobs and the health of their families. Even before the advent of Covid-19, it was difficult for some employees to cope with daily stress, but in recent times one can find that many workers are losing their nerves and feeling like their lives are falling apart.

Leaders must understand that these difficult times are impacting everyone at the same time, and it is necessary to manage associated anxiety effectively.

How to Manage Fears and Anxiety

Anxiety and stress severely hamper productivity in the workplace. When anxiety pops us, it severely affects our sleep, diet, and mindfulness. That’s why we must cultivate tools to cope with anxiety and better ourselves.

Taking insights from the recent Rant & Grow podcast featuring Ryan Haddon, a life coach, hypnotherapist, meditation teacher, and spiritual mentor, you must advise and encourage your team to focus on themselves and improve their mental well-being.

The first and the most important thing to do is to encourage people to talk about the pressures and concerns in these times — with you, their family, and their friends. Providing support and creating a safe space to listening to them is the first step towards getting rid of anxiety.

There are other important pieces of advice from Ryan Haddon that you can persuade your employees to follow, such as:

Grounding Exercises

When you get over-anxious, your mind starts spinning or may even shut down. In such times, plant your feet firmly on the ground (doesn’t matter if you are sitting in a chair or standing in the office), and close your eyes.

Calm yourself and feel the earth holding you up, as the spinning energy from the top of your head flows down to your feet. Keep breathing and visualize the positive energy from the earth flowing into your heart.

This simple grounding exercise will distribute the intensity centered in the head throughout your body and bring powerful and positive energy from the earth into your body.

Breathing Awareness

If you feel your heart racing and your breathing getting shallow, then you are headed towards anxiety. Instead of letting the panic set in, pause for a moment and take three deep, long, and slow belly breaths. You will immediately feel your heart rate slowing down and getting a sense of calm that will get you back on your feet in no time.

Self-acceptance

Ryan suggests that one must cultivate the idea that everything in one’s life is exactly as it is supposed to be. She doesn’t mean that you have to like your current situation, but you do have to accept it.

“In order to manage anxiety, you must not fight reality, instead work with it.”

If you recognize things as they are and believe that things are unfolding for your own highest good, you can start moving ahead. You cannot cling to the past or delve into addictions ,as they are only going to provide a temporary fix.

You must accept and embrace reality to take necessary actions and bring about a change. If you want, you can try jotting down on a piece of paper whatever is coming to your mind. Once you get it out of your system, you will find yourself calm and relaxed with no judgment.

“If you don’t let out what you are feeling, anxiety gets repressed and keeps showing up in your life unpredictably.”

Meditation

Meditation can be challenging if you start thinking that you aren’t getting it right or others are better at it than you. Ryan suggests that we should be curious about the practice and not get unnecessarily distracted.

Simply set your timer for three to five minutes, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and just breathe in and out. Don’t judge if you are doing it right or try to control your thoughts and focus only on creating a small window for your brain to relax.

You can slowly increase this time as you get more comfortable. If you wish, you can opt for guided meditation as well. Just take some time out for meditation and guide yourself as your sub-consciousness is your divine right.

“How much you take care of yourself at home does impact your behavior in the workplace.“

Employees who struggle with anxiety often know that it can be paralyzing and impact their ability to think clearly and contribute their best in the workplace. That’s why it is important to let them know that anxiety can be managed and avoided if they are willing to share their concerns and work upon themselves.

As a leader, you must do everything you can to inculcate this behavior in your team and be aware of their mental health at all times. A sound team member will not only be a vital contributor in the workplace but will also admire your leadership as you become personally invested in their well-being.

Check out the Rant & Grow podcast episode with Ryan. Maybe you’ll discover some wisdom for your own life. You can listen to the podcast right here.

Business Innovation Brief

How to Make an Organization More Adaptable

How to Make an Organization More Adaptable

How to Make an Organization More Adaptable

Business Innovation Brief Best Article

Adaptability is the key to an organization’s ability to react effectively to unexpected business conditions. Almost every organization plans on how to operate when business conditions are predictable, but the key to surviving the long term is to plan effectively how to respond to the unexpected.

Importance of Adaptability

Adaptability is key to long term success. During times like today in the middle of a global pandemic, it is the key to survival.

Giants of business industries like Myspace, Kodak, and RadioShack are mere memories today because they failed to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape.

According to McKinsey, 84% of business owners consider innovation important to their growth strategy, and 80% fear failure in the near future if they can’t adapt to changing economic environments.

As Walt Disney’s CEO Bob Iger puts it: “Innovate or die.”

Leaders set trends and excel in markets with their innovative minds and the ability to adapt to rapid changes. They have more trust from clients as compared to those who just follow trends and provide product or service copies of innovation.

“Adaptability is a trait that can induce further positive traits in individuals and organizations.”

An organization that can perform well in unexpected situations, can embrace entirely new ways of doing things. Such organizations have the technology, people power, and tools to beat competitors any time.

“Adaptive organizations are more capable of leading and setting the pace for an entire industry.”

An adaptable organization is always more capable of facing challenges and handle adversity. The people at such places are more resilient and have a renewed mindset to embrace difficult situations. As a result of their grit, they are more capable to drift through challenges swiftly.

Steve Jobs used to say: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

How to Make an Organization Adaptable

The first step to becoming more adaptable is to welcome failure. Accepting failure is different than giving up, or to quit.

Welcome Failure

To welcome failure is to acknowledge setbacks as a temporary state. A stepping stone towards learning. It’s about embracing opportunities to grow.

To ensure a culture that is welcoming of failure, includes the acceptance of different ideas from various people in the organization. It’s being able to have a pulse on weather change energizes people and introduce incentives for testing new products or services.

Welcome Learning

Another way to make an organization more adaptable is to ingrain learning. Adaptive organizations see the speed of change, and the impact of rapid globalization as a challenge.

They strive to get ahead of competitors in their respective industry. In addition to working faster and harder, it is crucial to act effectively and efficiently.

“The only way to act smart is to reflect on both failures and successes and share insights with all employees.”

This way front line employees have the context of senior leaders that can boost their ability to make decisions quickly when it’s most needed.

“To be adaptive is better than being process-focused in order to achieve business goals.”

Welcome Accountability

To achieve adaptability, it is essential to encourage accountability. It is always easier to attribute success to hard work, and failure to bad luck, but adaptable organizations are first and foremost focused on creating and empowering a culture of self-accountability.

The sense of accountability ensures the performance of tasks by every member with devotion. It promotes an environment of trust, and helps the organization avoid “cya” tactics or blame games.

Moreover, accountability is inculcated with system perspective because employees understand that their decisions not only impact the organization, but people and their families.

To make an organization adaptable, it is important for everyone to be clear about their role in contributing value. Every member of the team has the responsibility to ensure the success of the organization. Everyone needs to act as a leader and be proactive.

Welcome Innovation

Organizations have to embrace innovative ideas and make changes accordingly. To assure the inflow of ideas, it is good to hire fresh minds and gain the advantage of their recent learning. Additionally, training employees to think and execute effectively is key.

“Innovation is the basis of adaptiveness and encouraging people to think outside of the box is key to achieve it.“

It is inevitable to keep an eye on your competitor. You need to actively study to which extent they are adapting to change, and how much behind or ahead from them, you are.

“A culture of appreciation and gratitude is the best way to promote innovation.”

Inference

Adapting to change is what keeps us valuable, relevant, and at the forefront of the competitive edge. If an organization is adaptable, it embraces failure, learning, accountability and change.

Adaptive organizations seek to deliver proactive innovation, satisfy customers and other stakeholders, and lead in the business world with gratitude and intelligence.

Business Innovation Brief

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