I've been thinking a lot lately about the growing crisis that I'm seeing in the workplace. In fact, it was my own crisis moment that really alerted me to just how bad this crisis is.
About a month ago, I was sitting with my BFF painfully rehashing the week's ups and downs, lamenting (read: complaining) about a client. She thoughtfully listened for about 2 minutes before cutting me off and saying "so are you going to give her feedback".
I dismissed her comment, grunted, and kept talking. Feedback, yeah right. I was not going to give feedback to this client. The thought of giving my client feedback made my body break out in hives. It made my so physically and mentally uncomfortable to think about sitting down with this person and telling her some hard truths. Specifically that her lack of self awareness was the reason her team performance sucked and that she bulldozed through other people's ideas like a dump truck, and the carnage was her team. My anxiety was level ten thinking about it.
As I continued to manufacture the BS about not giving my client feedback, C looked at me and plainly stated: You talk about the power of feedback and its importance all the time. Didn't you do a workshop last week about this very topic...? Regardless, you can't talk about the importance of feedback and then not doing. That's your integrity in question.
Now she had my attention. No one questions my integrity!
I left that conversation feeling intrigued, confused and terrified that I was now going to have to give feedback. But she was right. How could I espouse the values of feedback and not be willing to give it myself. Especially to the one person who maybe needed it the most?
As I began to observe my day-to-day interactions, the evidence was painfully clear. We have an integrity crisis on our hands. A big one.
People who espouse one thing, and then completely ignore the thing they espouse to be and do.
- The people who tout the merits of vulnerability, but refuse to acknowledge when things are hard and they are struggling.
- The people who claim to be self aware but then have no idea why they act the way they do and their impact on others.
- The people who talk about great leadership and what it means to lead, but who's team is falling apart.
- The people who "love" innovation and failing fast but who demand perfection from themselves and others.
PEOPLE! WE HAVE A CRISIS!
Saying what we do and doing what we say is the foundation of integrity. When our integrity is high, we have meaningful relationships, built on trust and safety. We have congruency between who we are and how we show up in the world. We have authenticity.
Quite simply, if you don't have integrity, you ain't got much else. Period.
After a few days of wrestling with my own internal turmoil and fear, I did sit down with this client and give her feedback. It wasn't pretty. There were tears and awkward tense moments of wanting to run away, but I did it. And that's all that mattered.
There is no easy fix. Changing human behaviour is hard. I get it. I'm still struggling to find answers, but today I've settled on this fact. The only way to fix this crisis is to show up. Show up in your words and actions. Do what you say and say what you do.