He viewed his team as unproductive and selfish. Always prioritizing their needs and wants. While the company struggled financially and he grappled with how best to keep it afloat. Identifying problems and bringing them to him to address. He just wished they would start coming up with solutions. Offer a thoughtful plan with productive steps forward. Carry their weight. Earn their pay.
Instead, they argued amongst themselves. Butted heads. Each telling the other, they knew more. Could do it better. Stop messing things up. Always someone else’s fault. Anger. Disgust.
My client had reached out to me because he couldn’t resolve the fact that some of his key team members didn’t communicate effectively. He believed nothing could change this. This assumption led to a disturbing conclusion—live with the way things were, or find a new management team.
Because It Happened In The Past, It Will Happen Again
I explained to him that when you already believe you ‘know’ something won’t work, because of a past experience, you might not even consider it a possibility in the future. Further, if you do try it, you might either subconsciously sabotage your own efforts, or move in a counter-productive direction.
I challenged his assumption that some of his key team members didn’t communicate effectively by asking, “just because that happened in the past, why must it happen again?”
We explored and vetted several different perspectives and possibilities:
What if, sitting in his office behind a closed door—listening to his team squabble and refusing to intervene—played a role in the team’s inability to communicate effectively? Perhaps the lack of engagement left the team feeling in the dark. Devoid of any information flow, they felt helpless and began imagining the worst—layoffs, restructuring, or, worse, going out of business.
What if, his keeping the firm’s challenges, as well as his emotions to himself, left the team believing he was an inaccessible leader?
What if, his inability to truly inspire and motivate others caused the team to show up poorly as well—mirroring back his negative energy and “can’t do” mindset?
History Does Not Predict The Future
Fast forward to present day and several months of self-discovery later, my client believes that his team is truly talented and can communicate effectively. The management team has become a powerful force for guiding people and creating meaningful change in the organization. They are fully engaged in helping my client grow the business and consistently creating a work environment that is collaborative and supportive.
With the alternative perspectives and possibilities we explored, my client started including his team in the process of addressing the company’s challenges: Regular meetings. Improved information flow. Clearer roles and responsibilities. Better accountability. Importantly, he embraced his emotions and shared them with his team. Modeled healthier communication. Inspired more. Led better.
The management team changed too. No longer using him as a dumping bin for their problems. Now, proposing solutions. Reviewing objectives achieved. And setting new goals for the future. They feel heard, acknowledged, validated, and supported.
My Challenge To You
I invite you to ask yourself if there is an area of frustration in your own life that could use an examining of perspective. How might the people in these relationships see the friction? What might their feelings be? And, if you were in their shoes, who would you need to show up for you? Then go be that person. It’s that simple. You change, they change.
Tell me how it goes. My inbox is always open.
If you would like help identifying and challenging your assumptions, shoot me an email and we can talk.