Barriers

Will Removing These Leadership Lids Help You?

Not too long ago it was Taco Tuesday at the Livingston home. My wife, Kim, and I were assembling all the ingredients for our tacos: tortillas, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, etc. I noticed my wife was struggling to take the lid off of the salsa jar, so I gently gestured for her to give me the jar and proudly assumed the position in heroically twisting the lid off the jar.

It wouldn't budge.

I put forth a little more effort, twisting harder this time. Nothing. I resorted to running it under hot water for a while, then took a towel to dry it before I tried again. Sure enough, the lid finally gave way and the jar was open for salsa to be enjoyed.

Earlier that day, I was talking with a good friend about leadership LIDS. During our conversation, the idea of the lid intrigued me. Yes, the lid is there as a cover, or protection, for what's inside, but it is also a cover, or barrier, keeping you away from what needs to be shared or utilized. Many times it's our own emotions and mentality that hold us back.

I want to focus on four of these potential barriers and consider how we can remove them: Loneliness, Indecisiveness, Defensiveness, and Selfishness.

As you read, think about your own leadership and which LIDS you need to remove. Which of these LIDS is holding you back from sharing what you have to offer?

Loneliness

This could be something you are experiencing in the workplace, or in your personal life. It can creep up when you've physically spent too much time on your own or you feel as if no one can relate to what you are going through or processing. Feeling alone is difficult, and doing alone is even more challenging. As humans, we are designed for relationships. Although alone time can be rejuvenating, we aren't meant to remain there in order to progress or thrive.

Remove this lid: Invite people into your world. Whether it's including them on a project you are working on or asking someone to coffee. If the loneliness doesn't subside and you are having trouble processing or expressing your thoughts, consider talking to a mentor, counselor, or coach.

Indecisiveness

You may say that being indecisive comes from the inability to make a decision because there's seems to be no wrong or right way to go. While that's true, I also see a lot of fear behind decision making. What if I make is the wrong choice? Making a decision is going to keep you moving while indecisiveness keeps you stagnant. How can you lead people if you aren't really going anywhere yourself?

Remove this Lid: Make a decision. Don't let the fear of failure keep you from moving forward. Making a mistake or taking a wrong turn doesn't mean you failed, instead, it's an opportunity to learn and grow.

Defensiveness

In the great American sport of football, the defensive line has a responsibility to keep the other team's offense and quarterback from advancing the field with the ball. They push. They fight. This creates struggle and tension, not to mention it is exhausting as they keep it up until the other team scores or it is their turn to play offense. I bring up this example because we tend to think of defense as protecting, yet the defensive line isn't protecting anything. They are pushing back and preventing advancement. We can often be defensive in our own lives, having the mindset that we are protecting something. This could be our job, our reputation, or more often than not, our pride. In this case, protection is a fallacy and our defensiveness creates a barrier and tension that prevents the advancement of our goals or our team.

Remove this lid: It takes some intentional awareness of your emotions to see when you may be acting defensively. Your heart might start beating faster, your body temperature may rise, you may feel your lips tighten, or you may unconsciously cross your arms. Try to identify what happens when you start to feel defensive, why you are feeling it, and what you might think you're "protecting." How is your defensiveness holding you and/or your team back?

Selfishness

Putting your needs and desires before others is the easiest way to explain selfishness. It is even easier, unfortunately, to get caught up in selfishness if we don't stop to think about what we are doing or behaving. Consider what your priorities are right now. Are you focusing on your own advancements and needs? What about those of your team and followers? Don't get me wrong, self-care is important, as long as it's not at the expense of another person.

Remove this lid: Think about your goals, priorities, and needs. What would it look like if you included your team in those goals, changing "I" statements to "we." Call on your team and followers to find our what their goals and priorities are, then think about how you can help them achieve their goals. Practice humility by stepping back, letting them take lead on a project, and praising them publicly for a job well done. Trust me, their success will be your success.

Homework

Think about our LIDS analogy above and identify one of them that you need to remove. What action steps or conversations do you need to have in order to remove them? What benefits will come to you and your followers when you remove the lid?