We’ve all had those moments. You’re sitting at your desk, frustrated with your job, wondering just why your coworkers seem so happy. Are they crazy? Are you?
Well, maybe a few of them are, but they can’t all be. That revelation sent Dethra Giles on a journey of self-discovery, and by the end of it, she’d mastered the art of navigating her career. Now, she’s a leadership coach, keynote speaker, and author sharing her wisdom throughout the professional world — and with our audience this week on #WorkTrends.
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Your Biggest Distraction is Yourself
Giles sees her job as helping people optimize performance and eliminate distractions. But what are the distractions that hold us back? “Our biggest distractions are ourselves,” she says.
She points to quite a few of her clients who don’t apply for jobs because they’re scared of failure, a universal feeling. Or, as Giles puts it: “our messed-up way of thinking about ourselves.”
But why we are our own worst enemies? Giles says it’s simple. “We have killed that little kid in us who believed we could do anything,” she says. To get back on track, you’ve got to channel that brave kid — the one who had no problem climbing trees, getting hurt, and taking a few chances.
How We Can Be Better Leaders and Managers
But what about how we can impact others? Giles says that many organizations’ leaders fail because they do not have an accountability strategy. It’s something that confounds her. There is not much to an accountability strategy, she says. In fact, these strategies are pretty basic. “This isn’t new stuff,” she says. “We’ve learned these things since kindergarten.”
Additionally, Giles says, she believes that managers are simply not given enough training. Instead, too many organizations are focused on training their C-Suite, and they ignore the people who are in the trenches day-to-day with an organization’s employees. In her previous position working in HR for a large university in Atlanta, she actually made it a point to implement more training for managers. She found that managers who had more training earlier received fewer discrimination complaints, fewer sexual harassment complaints, and fewer employee relations complaints. It was also better for the organization’s bottom line. “If we trained them earlier, we saved money,” she explains.
Why The Tough Conversations Are So Important
Giles is a strong proponent of addressing difficult, thorny issues in the workplace, such as race, religion, and politics. She believes that it’s a necessary part of moving these conversations forward, and finds it strange that people shy away from talking about tough issues. After all, she says, nearly every organization has a diversity initiative — “But you don’t want us to talk about it? That is the most backwards thing ever,” she says.
Ultimately, the lack of conversations around these topics stem from the same fear factor holding us back in other areas of our lives. We’re scared of talking about these topics in a way that might offend someone, or perhaps we don’t even know how to talk about some of these issues. “The reality is, we don’t want to address our incompetence and our fear,” Giles explains. But there’s only one way to address that incompetence: jump right in! You’re going to feel a lot better once you do.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode