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I’ve always taken issue with the idea of “no pain, no gain.” It’s a little masochistic for my taste.

I will concede, however, that sometimes there are gains to come from pain.

Take that thing that happens time and again, leaving you banging your head against the wall; that frustrating thing your team does on repeat. You wish you could shut it down.

But next time it happens, I want you to look it in the eye. It has something to tell you.

In Discovery sessions with clients throughout the pandemic, I’m noticing our collective tolerance for annoyances has gotten lower.

Now more than ever before, I’m hearing things like…

  • “I’ve said it a thousand times but they’re not listening…
  • “They continue to miss the mark on work I’m reviewing…
  • “They’re spinning when they should be deciding…
    …so would you please help us design a solution to solve the problem?”

Of course I’ll help them design a solution. But my non-negotiable caveat to the client is this: “I’ll need the freedom,” I tell them “to explore what your role in this repeating struggle might be.”

This caveat makes all the difference – it’s the thing that allows our solution to take hold; to have impact.

With permission granted to explore the leader’s role in a headbanger, we’ve been able to make discoveries like:

  • The team isn’t failing to listen. The leader needs to enhance their communication – the sharpness, the clarity, the frequency, the context…
  • The team isn’t missing the mark – they’re just either afraid or feeling too rushed to ask the right clarifying questions early on.
  • The team isn’t being indecisive – they’re struggling with role clarity or process bottlenecks.

When we’re able to marry the leader’s problem statement (i.e., work isn’t being done effectively) with insights around how the leader may be furthering the problem, we’re able to tailor our solution – the conversation, the recommendations – to make real change.

So now, I invite you to take a deep breath and look at your own frustrations – with your team, your peers, your clients.

What’s showing up on repeat. What are they consistently doing wrong…and what might your role be in it?

Be bold, be candid, and be willing to look closely at the influence you’re having.

There may be some pain…but I assure you a gain!