Excited to announce that last week we kicked off the first cohort of the Creative Leadership program, in partnership with YCN. This 12-week program aims to cover the essentials of leadership by introducing the group to a mix of theory, tools, and experts. More details to come but one of the biggest takeaways from the first session was the notion that Leadership is uncomfortable.
I got them there by using an exercise known as ‘SuperHero’ I often use to warm up and wake up new groups. I was introduced to this exercise at ustwo as they use it to increase team dynamics. If you’d like to try it, it goes something like this;
- The first step is done individually and involves identifying your 3 strengths, weaknesses, and motivations.
- Then you have to draw what your ‘superhero’ would look like.
- Once complete you then have to stand up and explain how your SuperHero.
Although it sounds pretty straightforward I have found that it is often met with a level of resistance (I’ve discovered that most adults really hate the thought of having to draw and share). The last part always starts with a large initial ‘cringe factor’ followed by laughter and insight.
This exercise has multiple benefits but the two that I love most are;
- It calls for on the spot reflection and,
- Gets people to talk about themselves on a level playing field (they all had to go through the cringy experience together).
After everyone presents I ask how many found the exercise ’uncomfortable’.
Often I am met with a lot of hands up in the air.
I follow up by asking how many found it ’challenging’.
And that is the first lesson when wanting to transition from manager to leader.
Leadership is both uncomfortable and challenging.
When asked, most people would rather be a lead (empower) than manage (control). The majority of people show up to my workshops and classes are keen to develop their knowledge on how to lead their teams better. However, when you start to unpick what leading really means (patience, empathy, vision, communication) I often see people default back to old management habits (ie. control, blame, avoiding conflict, avoiding change).
Listen, I’ve been there too - we are human! It takes a lot of energy to empower others but as we ride out this 'new year, new you’ energy I urge you to lean into the discomfort when working on your leadership skills. This looks like; welcoming the hard feedback, speaking up in meetings, challenging the status quo and having those hard conversations.
The more comfortable you get being uncomfortable, the more you will be able to actually lead your teams.