What’s in Your Closet?

April 27th, 2018 by Kelly Kienzle

64 pounds of textiles each year. That’s how much clothing and other textiles like sheets and towels are thrown out each year by the average American. That is a stunning number that made me stop and think about how many pieces of clothing I buy each year.

Under-used Assets

I am an occasional shopper, at best, and sometimes catch myself not being able to remember from what decade I purchased a sweater or dress.  Yet I probably still have a majority portion of my closet containing clothes I have not worn in years.

What does my clothing analysis have to do with leadership? It has to do with stoicism. Stoicism is instead of wanting what you don’t have, you learn how to want what you do have.  And this philosophy of stoicism can be applied to the teams we lead.

How often do you wish “Joe” on your team was just a bit more filtered in how he spoke? How often do you wish “Matt” spoke up more often? What would you give for “Cathy” to be a tad more creative in her solutions?

This wishing for what we don’t have is what leads to wasted energy – – we waste emotional energy considering all we could do, if we just had a little more of “this” or “that” on our teams.

Clothing is the same idea.  If I think my closet needs to be a little more “post-2000”, then I may waste energy (physical, emotional and fiscal) considering and then buying what I believe I need. Instead, I can learn to “love again” that sweater. I can learn to want what I do have, and save myself energy and money for when those well-traveled shoes finally do fall apart.

Teams are like Closets

We can do this with our teams. Instead of noticing what is lacking in our teams, we can notice what we do have.  What talents are already present and naturally showing themselves?  Perhaps we can notice within our colleagues the ability to be analytical, to boost morale, to develop new relationships.  All of these are skills that are critical in the workplace.  Adopting a strengths-based approach to role assignments allows us to put people in roles where their natural talents shine the most. And keeps leaders from spending their days wishing for something else.

Ready for the bonus move? Notice how this stoicism philosophy applies to yourself. What do you always wish you were more of? Could do better? Were exemplary at?  Put that aside for the moment and consider instead what skills you already have.  What are you already good at?  (Hint: It’s probably something that you enjoy.)

Defining Your Leadership Style

If we build our own roles and leadership style around those strengths, then we will engage and lead our teams in our most authentic way.

So keep what’s in your closet – – whether it’s in yourself, your team or your bedroom. There are at least 64 pounds to be saved, and even more to gain.

Leave a Reply