What if …? What might …? How could …? How is it …?
Why do we cling on to a fixed mindset re leadership? What preconceived ideas or assumptions guide our judgement? What do we allow to persuade, even force, us to see the spin versus the reality? Why do we give permission to impose the square peg or the round peg when the other would be the perfect fit? What is the pay-off?
Great questions … maybe. Uncomfortable questions …maybe. Challenging questions …maybe. Disruptive questions … maybe. Questions which hold up a mirror to discover what we think we see.
“Square peg in a round hole” is an idiomatic expression which describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of his or her society. The metaphor was originated by Sydney Smith in “On the Conduct of the Understanding”, one of a series of lectures on moral philosophy that he delivered at the Royal Institution in 1804–06.
A square peg in a round hole is ‘a person whose character makes them unsuitable for the job or other position they are in’ definition from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus Cambridge University Press
Interesting that it is the individual described as in the wrong rather than the society or job or position.
What if we found the round hole for the round peg and the square hole for the square peg? What if that was enough? What if we enabled encouraged and expected everyone to celebrate their natural abilities, their unique potential and their signature passion? Rather than enabling, expecting, encouraging people to force themselves, as Cinderella’s stepsisters desperately tried to do, into shoes that are the absolutely the wrong fit.
How much do we invest in, choose, give permission to tolerate what we know doesn’t fit right?
When if ever do we ask ourselves what the boss might need?
How often do we as leaders stop to encourage people around us to be brave and ask this question – what do you think I might know that could help you?
If we realised how much we perpetuate what isn’t right especially when it’s there in front of us, would we stop? What might we do differently? How might we shift our thinking? What if we decided to have a monogamous affair with reality? Choosing not to cheat on reality what difference might that make to leadership?
Everyone is exceptional if we bother to let go of received wisdom; truly see the talent and potential of people. It’s that round peg / square peg thing again. How can we make sure to get the fit right?
What might happen if those in leadership roles 360’d their approach to be curious who really was in their team / group / organisation /board / stakeholders/ clients / customers rather than who they think they have.
How do we actually see ourselves and other people rather than relying on assumptions?