If you think about leadership, there are images that come to mind such as boardrooms and Zoom calls. But your leadership isn’t just expressed in work-based situations. You can be a leader in all aspects of your personal and professional life. And your relationships—especially your failed relationships—can give you the greatest insight into how you can become a stronger leader. Here’s how to take those failures and turn them into gold.
1. Be Curious
A leader’s greatest attribute is their curiosity. According to Do some researchThis keeps your mind open and flexible, while also promoting positive work relationships. Actually, it is the best. Ask questionsThe more you inquire about others, the greater likelihood they will see you competent and caring. You can use this curiosity to find out where you have failed relationships. This will help you to become a better leader in the future.
First, ask yourself about what you did in situations that ended. If you’re being as objective as possible, was there something you did that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship? Are your actions and words making the other person feel loved and appreciated? Are you curious about the person and their hobbies? What are some of their most important interests? Have you asked them questions about their feelings, thoughts, or insights? You valued their contribution and value them?
If you aren’t sure about any of these things and you feel it would be helpful (and safe), reach out to past partners (personal and professional), as well as former friends or colleagues, and ask for their input. It may give you insight into places where you’ve developed patterns of relating to others that work against you in your leadership roles.
If you spoke with an ex-friend, it is possible that they felt ignored or neglected during the relationship. Such experiences can cause resentment which could lead to the end of the relationship. If you were to receive that kind of feedback, get curious about where you may be doing this in your other relationships, including at work when you’re leading the team.
Unheard and dismissed teams are those that stop asking questions, become scared to invent, lose commitment, and feel unappreciated. You will be less likely to make the same mistakes again in your relationships with your team if you’re more open-minded about your past failures.
“Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” – Ken Robinson
2. Get Honest
In this endeavor, it is important to first be open with yourself. Do you have blind spots? Is there an area of your communication or behavior that you’ve gotten feedback on from former partners, friends, or family members that you’ve ignored or felt triggered by? These may be things that have made you feel misunderstood or things that make you feel frustrated with a sense of “here we go again!”. While you don’t have to accept these things as wholly true for you, they may be worth examining to see if there’s maybe a kernel of truth that could support you in growing your awareness to become a better leader.
It’s important to note that everyone has blind spots. Leadership is about being open to finding and working with them. Leadership is all about making healthy choices for your group and setting an example. But, this is only possible if you listen intently and put in the effort to improve your own personal development. This may not always be your most enjoyable aspect of you to uncover, but it will help improve your leadership style by revealing your blind spots and telling yourself what needs to change.
As you go through this process, remember, it’s not personal. This feedback, and all other discoveries that you make are there to assist you in your growth. It’s in this process that you will become a stronger leader, and your team will respect you more for it.
3. Make it Clear
Now that you have the information you needed from your failed relationships, it’s time to put an action plan in place. Reach out to your former partner, friend, colleague, or family member and thank them for sharing their experiences. Make amends and apologize, but don’t let this be a reason to make a slur on yourself. You can use this feedback to help you become a more effective leader.
Think about this:
- Which patterns and traits are most urgent to change now?
- How can I change these unhealthy habits?
- What support do I need to achieve these changes? Therapy? Coaching? Charts? Etc.
- What are my options for holding myself responsible when I make these changes?
- What can I do to create a system of feedback that makes my colleagues feel comfortable and also allows them to be heard?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have created your list of priorities, identified the support system you need, and noted the systems of change and accountability that will support you in this process.
It can be hard to look back at your past mistakes, particularly when it is about relationships. But this is an opportunity to strengthen your present and future relationships so that you can step more into your leadership role with the confidence that you’re doing right by your team.
Addicted 2 Success originally published the post Three Ways to Learn from Failed Relationships in Order to Improve Your Leadership Style.
Addicted 2 Success has the first article, 3 Lessons from Failed Relationships that Will Strengthen Your Leadership Style.