Life teaches you a lot of lessons through successes and failures. It’s all a choice if you learn from those situations. Our desire at IOL is to help all leaders grow and get better for your teams. A lot of wisdom comes from your past experiences with people. It is critical to “listen to your spidey sense” when you feel it. Trust me, this is your superpower!
It’s a feeling one has in a situation that makes you pay attention closely to what is going around you. The term spidey sense comes from the comic book superhero Spiderman. It has been shown in the comics, cartoons and movies when Peter Parker, Spiderman, feels the hair on his arm stand straight up. Spiderman uses that spidey sense to sense danger is near by. He starts looking around to understand why his sense is tingling. This super power has saved him several times from disaster and death. I am a huge fan of superheroes but how does this apply to being a leader?
During my leadership career over the past 15 years, I have had my “spidey sense” be used to dive into situations that I had no previous knowledge of but felt an intuition to do something. This has been used with clients, employees, vendors, etc. in business situations. For example, I have been in many meetings where I watch the behavior of the people in the meeting and something has told me that something was off in the room. It might have been a person or the topic. I would share my concern with the leader of the team, give them instructions to go talk to a specific person or look into a situation/numbers being discussed. The leader has often come back and say to me” How did you know? You were right! There was something going on with that employee or those numbers.” Another example is when I felt like I was not being told the whole truth. I have asked a random question and exposed something by mistake. Often I am asked “Why did you asked that question?” I reply with “I don’t know. It was my spidey sense telling me to ask. I am shocked as much as others to find these spidey sense discovered a problem.”
Okay, so right now you are asking yourself “Does this guy think he is Spider Man?! Is this guy nuts!” The answer is “Maybe? But let me explain!” Life experiences have given me wisdom and it’s a choice to learn from those moments. I have learned to trust my instincts. This does not mean I get it right every time but I do think it’s important to at least ask or look into your questions. What is the worst thing? You ask and find out nothing is wrong.
It’s critical that you act. Don’t just wait and see what will happen next on its own. Spiderman always jumped into action because he knew danger was on the horizon. As a leader, you need to recognize something is off with a person or situation. You are sensing an issue for a reason so respond. Worst case, you find out that nothing is wrong. Best case, you discover the problem and work on solving it. I tell my people often “I can’t fix the problem if I don’t know about it.”
There is a reason why the person has not said something to you. Try to ask questions that don’t allow a yes or no response. There is a reason why the person did not say anything to you. Steve Scherer has taught leadership lessons on “interviewing vs. interrogating” when talking to employees. There is a big difference in how you ask questions. Reach out to Steve Scherer if you have more questions.
Sometimes the spidey sense is going off not because of a person but the situation you are involved with. There was a recent situation where I was being told something that didn’t sit well with me. It felt like I was being given a quick answer and the door was trying to be closed. I was told “It’s not a big deal. This is just what happened.” I knew in heart, mind and soul that something was off. I kept asking questions and even got others involved to give me more clarity. I kept coming up with no answers but that feeling that something was off would not go away. Finally, the person that kept telling me everything was fine shared details that was kept from everyone. This exposed the truth and validated why I was feeling off from the situation. It was exhausting to keep asking questions but I’m glad I didn’t give up.
Here are my final thoughts on following your spidey sense. There is a reason why we all get that feeling when something is off. Listen to that voice or feeling because I think it’s your super power. As a leader we have to ask more questions to really make an impact that helps everyone. You are reading this blog because you want to grow and get better. I am encouraging you to keep pouring into your knowledge so you can grow as leader and help your team get better under your influence.
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