About ten years ago, my son asked if he could borrow one of my Christmas sweaters. There was a basketball game that evening, and the student section was all going to wear ugly Christmas sweaters. I said sure, and showed him the storage bag where I kept my sweaters. After digging through a bit, he pulled out a festive cardigan and said, “This is perfect!” Somewhat surprised by the sweater he picked, I commented that his choice was not an ugly sweater. I can still see the somewhat pitying look in his eyes as he said, “Yes, Mom. It is.” Oh…
Here is what I have decided about my Christmas sweaters — which I purchased to look festive, not to draw snickers from my children or their friends . . . Long after my initial purchase, I was still seeing the sweaters with the same eyes I used when I bought them. Styles may have changed (a lot), but I still saw that cute Santa sweater as a fun way to celebrate the holidays.
Hmmm . . . maybe as this year draws to a close, it is a good time to review our leadership strategies to see if there are any ugly Christmas sweaters hidden (at least to our eyes) in plain sight.
Are you still getting feedback from your people in the same way you did 10 years ago? Or in the way that is most comfortable to you? Have you asked your people how they would like to share their ideas so you can build maximum engagement?
- Are you clinging to a level of formality, or rigidity, or hierarchical structure that might need a refresh? Especially after this past year, when so much in our lives was turned on end, are there adaptations that it would be helpful to retain in the long term?
- Are there “sacred cows” in your organizations that may need to be held up to the scrutiny of today’s variables and realities — to be viewed with a fresh lens?
- Are you willing to ask your people what practices need to be adapted, or ended altogether, in your organization? Chances are, your people will see opportunities, or ugly sweaters, that you simply aren’t seeing.
I’m not suggesting that you need to totally upend your leadership approach, or act on every idea that is offered to you. However, the exercise just might help you see some of your practices with new eyes.
By the way, this week I received my annual picture of my now adult son donning my (now his) ugly Christmas sweater. It is good to know that it continues to bring holiday cheer to others, years later and miles away.
Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday season . . . ugly Christmas sweaters optional.