Okay, not literally (my attorney just reminded me). I’m not looking for lawsuits and neither are you or your company. So, keep your clothes on. (Real Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any of you who read this literally and actually take your clothes off at an inopportune time. Think it through, buddy.)
But, metaphorically speaking, many team cultures and organizations develop habits of covering themselves and hiding their true feelings more often than revealing what is really on their mind and their heart. In many cases, they continue to add layers of clothing throughout their days and careers in order to stay protected, hidden, and unfortunately, their best ideas and work stay trapped beneath layers of sharp threads.
And for those of you who can relate to this right now, you know that sometimes there are real and obvious reasons why this type of culture exists — there is an extremely low level of trust. We all know these environments exist and you may very well be operating daily within one.
There are good reasons why we protect ourselves and add layers. In some places, we’ve been taught that is what it looks like to be a “strategic” leader — you know, someone who never truly shows their cards. But, my observation of those who might fall into that category is that there is nothing “strategic” about their leadership, but mostly just a scared, territorial, protective, and often formerly burned, employee. They might be good at playing the game and navigating corporate games, but a compelling leader they are not.
This is where we take our clothes off.
When I ask audiences all around the world to describe the most influential, effective, and exceptional leaders they’ve experienced in their life and career, they never describe that “strategic” leader. They don’t describe someone with layers upon layers of clothing that seemed to block real communication. What they do describe is a leader who worked very genuinely to remove their layers and the layers that existed with the team members they serve. Their nakedness had everything to do with being genuine and real with those they lead.
So, what are some characteristics of a naked leader and the leadership lessons we need to remember?
- They Seek To Understand — rather than hiding behind a veil of secrecy or a facade that they have all the answers, they look for ways to better understand the perspectives of those on their team and what the client may need. They work hard to try to understand the experience of those they work with.
- Authenticity Reigns — they are who they say they are and know they are not perfect. They own their mistakes and intentionally share things that reveal that they are indeed an actual human being outside of work too.
- They Covet Time To Get Real — the best leaders intentionally plan time and space to have real conversations with their people so that they can challenge the status quo, together. They listen, challenge, but respectively and positively raise the bar. Remember, conversations are the currency for change. They know that the best teams are always developing, growing, learning, and engaging.
When was the last time you got naked with your team? Again, not literally. Get your mind out of the gutter.
What issues, topics, or conversations could stimulate progress with your group?
Perhaps it’s time to remove some layers.
Good luck on the next leg of your journey!
Jason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim and ReMember, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
Follow on Twitter @JasonVBarger and learn more at JasonVBarger.com
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