I definitely believe there is merit in having the time and space to reflect on your own leadership practice. I know that feedback can be confronting but having the courage to admit you make mistakes and take on feedback from your team members ultimately helps to you improve as a leader.
This experience gave me an understanding of what I needed to improve to be a more inclusive leader and to take on board the perspectives of my team.
I learnt to accept that as a leader, I do have limitations and I need the support of my team to achieve the best outcomes for TAFE NSW.
I received some feedback that my staff felt they weren’t getting enough of an opportunity to provide their input. As a result, I took the time to schedule one-on-one catch-ups with each of my direct and non-direct reports. In the sessions I asked them how I could be more inclusive, and what change they would like to see from me.
As a leader it can be hard to be vulnerable, but I really wanted to put balance and reciprocity into the discussion. These conversations helped me think differently about how I can be more inclusive. One key point was that my team wanted to be challenged more and have more input in the decision-making process.
Now, I am more careful in how I allocate work and I try to include different team members in the decision-making process. I’m seeing a real impact. My direct reports have a lot more confidence that I’m backing them because they’ve been given the autonomy to grow. I’ve seen real value in creating the space to communicate more regularly and more openly with my team. I’ve challenged my managers to do the same with their teams.
How to be courageous
- Understand where your weaknesses lie and share them openly, help others to learn from them as well as your strengths.
- Share your stories and personal challenges with others in relation to diversity and inclusion.
- Check yourself if you unconsciously act as though you are ‘above’ others.