Charles Starrett

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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.

Positively closed

One stereotype of a leader is someone who is always positive. Who always sees the bright side of things. Who has a “can do” attitude. Who always tells their team that they’re doing great.

The problem is that this kind of constant positivity closes the leader off from being able to listen.

Leadership requires deep listening, which means listening with presence and openness.

The openness of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

What does this have to do with positivity? Well, there’s no curiosity without doubt, no compassion without pain, and no courage without fear.

In order to have curiosity, compassion, and courage, you need to allow yourself to feel doubt, pain, and fear. It’s not easy, but with practice, it’s doable.

And once you become skilled at feeling doubt, pain, and fear, and keep going anyhow, it will become a superpower.

Besides all that, if your team knows things are not going well, but you pretend that they are, they won’t trust you. And if they don’t trust you, they won’t tell you what you need to know.

It’s okay to say things as they are. And to trust that you and team can handle the bad times together.

There’s no need to be positive all the time. But as a leader, you do need to be present all the time.

And open to listen to what is.

2 June 2022

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