Where Do You Need To Be Indifferent As A Leader?


According to Merriam-Webster, some of the primary definitions of indifferent are: Marked by impartiality, does not matter one way or another, or no special liking or disliking of something. Continue reading the list, and you’ll also find other definitions like, being neither excessive nor inadequate, or being neither good nor bad.

Indifference and leadership are two words rarely found together, except to describe someone who doesn’t seem to be concerned about the well-being of those around them. What I often see, however, is that leaders who won’t allow themselves to have a level of indifference about certain things limit the growth of their team members, and burn way too much mental energy on the wrong things.

If you’re wondering about how you might improve as a leader by being a little less indifferent, here are two typical scenarios:

When you’re so attached to an outcome (and the process) that you can’t imagine any other options.
Having only one option raises the risk making a wrong choice to an extremely high level. Fear becomes the driving force and you’re willingness to make a mistake or think about other options is minimized. Remember, the plan that gets you started is rarely the same one that gets you to your desired outcome. Being indifferent frees you to see other possibilities and options, which reduces your fear and increases your confidence that success is possible.

When you want to improve your team’s ability to think creatively and solve problems on their own.
We have all been a part of meetings where a problem is introduced by the leader, they ask for suggestions, and then… the sound of crickets. No one dares speak up because they can already tell how the leader wants to address the challenge and it’s a waste of time to suggest any different courses of action. Even if you have a preference for one action over another, keep it to yourself and allow your team members to work through the problem-solving process. You’re helping them to grow their critical thinking skills and creativity.

To improve your ability to be indifferent as a leader, here are two simple ways to start:

  • When looking at a potential course of action, ask yourself, “Would I be okay if there were a different way to approach this?”
  • If presenting a challenge or opportunity to your team, try to remain as objective as possible. Use a phrase like, “How might we…?” to encourage team members to give possible solutions. And try to remain as impartial as possible when acknowledging their answers. Even small facial expressions like smiling more about one suggestion alerts the group that you have a preference of one solution over another.

Letting go of your persistent preference for certain solutions, processes, and choices frees you up to focus on the more essential function of developing your people… and that’s a place where leaders should never be indifferent.

For more on this topic:
How To Grow Your Team When You Are An Overworked Leader
3 Things You Need To Stop Trying To Control