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As an HR person, I have leaders tell me things all of the time that they don’t feel comfortable saying to the people who actually need to hear it. For example, a leader told me that someone on their team wasn’t showing up as a strategic thinker. I was floored when I heard that because from the conversations that I’d had with the person they were talking about, I thought that they were very forward thinking, focused on the vision of the organization and ready to contribute to the big picture.

I asked tons of probing questions to get a better idea of what a strategic thinker looked like to that leader, and low and behold, their idea of what strategic thinking looked like and my idea of what strategic thinking looked like were very different. To them strategic thinkers were more focused on big, innovative ideas, breaking the mold and trying new things.

The person in question was in an extremely risk averse place in their life. They had personally been through several health issues, just bought a new home and was feeling a lot of financial pressure. It did not surprise me one iota that this person wasn’t bringing bold new ideas to the table. I asked the leader what they knew about their employee and if they’d ever had a conversation with them about being a strategic thinker. As suspected, they didn’t know a whole lot about them personally. They also had never even told them that they felt that they weren’t a strategic thinker, let alone what that meant to them or how it was impacting their perception of them. Not having that conversation was limiting that employees career and it took way too much convincing to get that leader to have an open and honest conversation with their employee. When they did, it was revolutionary. The employee came back to me and said that they felt like they’d been travelling in the dark and after the conversation they finally found like they were walking around in daylight.

I’m urging leaders to stop making your employees travel in the dark. Here are a few tips:

·Have open and honest conversations with your employees

·Get the know your employees personally and learn their motivations

·Have a true, vested interest in seeing your employees grow

·Make sure that you clearly spell out your expectations

Go bring your teams into the light!

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