We have a horse, his name is Duke (he’s the icon for the site). He’s a 4yo Paint or Pinto. He’s quirky! Horses are bred for a few things, those include mental soundness, physical soundness and well color. Paints are bred for color which makes things like mental and physical soundness to be a little off.
Being quirky as a leader is a good thing but it can be hard to take for people who are used to either leading with or being led by someone who is very straight and narrow.
This means that if you are one those of quirky leaders you may find it tough to get ahead and get noticed for being a good leader. However, don’t let that stop you! It is alot like a round peg in a square hole and someone may tell you it won’t work but it will! You just have to find the right balance.
For Duke he struggles with what he can’t see and generally that is something behind him. Oh and weird sounds, things he thinks are scary and walls, but hey he’s quirky! However, he’s an amazing horse, it just takes someone to see past those quirks and see potential.
As leaders we have our quirks, however so do those around us! Those quirks are what make them successful! I worked with someone who never had a filter, if you did something wrong he’d tell you. Then it was over! He expected you were going to fix the error and there was never a grudge to carry! This was really hard for me at first because I don’t like negative feedback and I tend to believe that you are giving me this I must be a bad person. However for him this was just his style. He had his quirks!
We have 2 hurdles to overcome as quirky leaders (and EVERYONE is quirky). The first is understanding if our quirks provide us a strength or a weakness. In my example above being afraid of conflict left me to always wonder if he was mad at me or I had done some great error. I am having to learn that negative feedback isn’t a reflection on me as a person but an error that needs to be corrected. Understanding what the quirk is and how it can work is great.
The next thing for me is to understand that this quirk is actually a GOOD thing because it can allow me to empathize with people who I am providing negative feedback to. I know that for me to hear this would really hurt, so I make sure they know that they bring some amazing gifts to the team however this one area needs some work. I also make it about the error and not the person. Often times you can say “wow I see that you are really working on a lot of projects right now and I can see how this error occurred, how can I help you with this?”
Understanding our team members quirks is the next thing to look at. I had a team member once who didn’t work more than 8 hours a day. In my world NOONE works 8 hours, we work 12 14, 16, 18 we don’t do shift word! And for the most part everyone understood that. He didn’t get it, and at first I was so frustrated with him. Why didn’t he want to work like everyone else ! Then I learned that he was quirky, he just didn’t see that as important. I learned that I had to ask him to work extra. I had to set boundaries with him and indicate, this needs to be done today – however you can finish it at home. I also provided incentives, if he worked late a few days and we weren’t busy I’d send him home early on a Friday.
Understanding his quirks allowed me to ensure my teams success without losing my mind!
Being quirky can be a great thing! You just have to know how to manage that quirkiness! For me it will be about teaching a 4 year old horse that his tail is NOT something to be afraid of and that the ground isn’t going to jump up and eat him!!