A kick in the pants presents a golden op­por­tu­nity

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - JAY ROBB @jay­robb serves as di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Mo­hawk Col­lege and lives in Hamil­ton.

You did a dumb thing.

Yes, you stayed within the let­ter of the law. But you will be found guilty in the court of pub­lic opin­ion and pos­si­bly cru­ci­fied.

Your judg­ment, char­ac­ter and in­tegrity will be ques­tioned.

You will test the loy­alty and faith of the peo­ple you lead.

This will be the worst of times. Yet it could also prove to be the best time to be­come a bet­ter leader if you re­spond in the right way.

“A kick in the tuckus can be the mo­ment where ev­ery­thing changes for you as a leader,” says Bill Trea­surer, chief en­cour­age­ment of­fi­cer at Gi­ant Leap Con­sult­ing and au­thor of “A Lead­er­ship Kick in the Ass.”

“Th­ese stark and star­tling mo­ments can rat­tle your con­fi­dence to the core. But th­ese mo­ments can also be the start­ing point where you as­sess your strengths, clar­ify your val­ues and de­velop an au­then­tic and true lead­er­ship voice and style.”

Ac­cord­ing to Trea­surer, em­bar­rass­ing butt kicks can lead to trans­for­ma­tive hu­mil­i­a­tion and pos­i­tive change.

“You’ll stop over­com­pen­sat­ing for your weak­nesses by be­ing falsely con­fi­dent and over­dom­i­nant, and in­stead, will gain strength in the hum­ble recog­ni­tion that lead­ing and in­flu­enc­ing oth­ers is a priv­i­lege to be hon­oured and trea­sured. Your kick will ul­ti­mately teach you that the only way to bring out the best in those you’re lead­ing is to lead with the best of your­self.”

It takes real courage to see your­self as you re­ally are, says Trea­surer. Ad­mit­ting that you’re the source of your prob­lems and in­ef­fec­tive­ness is hard and hum­bling. Yet it’s the only way you’ll face re­al­ity and change for the bet­ter.

Get­ting your butt kicked in­jects a healthy dose of hu­mil­ity.

“Strengths are good things. Un­til they aren’t,” says Trea­surer.

Your skills at pub­lic speak­ing can lead you to hog at­ten­tion and seek the lime­light. Your off-the-chart crit­i­cal think­ing skills can make you dis­mis­sive of oth­ers. Your strength of con­fi­dence can turn into a weak­ness of ar­ro­gance.

A lack of con­fi­dence is also a weak­ness. Butt kicks loom for lead­ers who are pre­oc­cu­pied with the po­ten­tial for fail­ure and hy­per­fo­cus on risk mit­i­ga­tion. They don’t trust, or fight, for their ideas. Timid and hes­i­tant lead­ers are un­o­rig­i­nal, unin­spir­ing, in­ef­fec­tive and even­tu­ally un­em­ployed.

“Ev­ery leader is made up of sun­shine and shad­ows. Pay­ing at­ten­tion only to the shiny parts of your lead­er­ship causes your shadow to grow, prac­ti­cally en­sur­ing a kick in the salt shaker.”

So how do you make the most out of your kick in the butt? How do you achieve the con­fi­dent hu­mil­ity that’s the hall­mark of great lead­ers? Trea­surer rec­om­mends that you:

Fo­cus on the long game. “A kick is just a mo­men­tary speed bump on your longer lead­er­ship ca­reer.” Fo­cus on where you want your ca­reer to end up, not on the de­tour you’re tak­ing.

Learn from your feel­ings. Re­mem­ber that dis­com­fort equals growth. “You don’t grow in a zone of com­fort. You grow, progress and evolve in a zone of dis­com­fort.”

Broaden your view of courage to in­clude be­ing vul­ner­a­ble, open and re­cep­tive to change.

Don’t be obliv­i­ous to your­self. “How much might it be cost­ing you to re­main loyal to your ig­no­rance?”

Be your own project. “Lots of peo­ple lead projects bet­ter than they lead them­selves. Treat your butt kick re­cov­ery like a project with out­comes, time­lines and mile­stones.

Stay present. Fully im­merse your­self in the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“A hu­mil­i­at­ing kick can be the en­try point for a richer, fuller and more com­plete un­der­stand­ing of your­self, as a leader and as a hu­man be­ing. You’ll be bet­ter able to use your strengths — and ac­tively mit­i­gate the shad­ows your strengths some­times cause — so they bet­ter serve you and oth­ers.”

It’s a not ques­tion of whether you’ll get your butt kicked as a leader. It’s only a mat­ter of when and how hard.

The real ques­tion is whether you’ll use this teach­able mo­ment to re­set and right-size your con­fi­dence and hu­mil­ity.

A Lead­er­ship Kick in the Ass: How to Learn From Rough Land­ings, Blun­ders and Mis­steps By Bill Trea­surer Ber­rett-Koehler Pub­lish­ers $25.50

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