Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:
I spend fifty to sixty percent of my time coaching MSEs (Most Senior Executives - CEOs, Managing Directors, Senior Partners, Lead Pastors - folks who lead organizations, whatever their title), and around 90% of that time is spent working with them on a single issue:
Their relationship with their team.
Whether it's dealing with outright dysfunction, minor mis-alignments, or any of a hundred gradations in between, the relationship between an MSE and his / her / their executive team lies at the very heart of healthy, sustainable growth in any organization.
Here are the three perception shifts I see my coaching clients make that most dramatically improve their team dynamics and allow them to move on to other, equally important issues.
Note: Whether you're an MSE or not, if you lead a team, these apply to you, too.
1. Realize That Your Team Does Not Complete You.
Your team members are not surrogates for your family, your friends, or any other (functional or dysfunctional) group of people you choose to project on to them.
This is particularly, if confusingly, so when, in fact, some of your team members actually are your family or friends. If that's the case, then for the sake of the organization you lead (and for the sake of your and your friends and family's mental and emotional health), you need to work incredibly hard at building clear distinctions between your relationship with them as family (or friends) and your relationship with them as team members.
Your team is not your therapy group, your mastermind group, your claque, buddies, mates or the mean kids at school who beat up on you.
Your folks are ‘just’ your team. They want to be led. They want direction. They want clarity. Above all, they want your overt, unambiguous support.
2. Realize That Your Team Aren’t Competing With You.
Or, if one or more of them are competing with you, you either made a dreadful hire which you need to unravel, or – possibly, but it’s rare – you made a really good hire…who needs taken to the woodshed and introduced to the concept of an attitude adjustment.
If you do have a team member who is competing with you (I mean in an unhealthy manner - being better at origami or ping-pong doesn't count) start by introducing them to the Enterprise Commitment and build from there. If your team member can't make the mental shift away from competing with you (or other team members) in an unhealthy way, face it - they're never going to become true growth leaders and you'll need to make a transition in their role.
3. Realize That They Don’t Believe You when you most need them to.
All that stuff you say so passionately? The piss and vinegar you’re so good at? The ra-ra that everyone nods at and grins inanely at and air-punches when you do it? The story-telling that holds them seemingly enraptured?
They don’t believe a word of it. Not. One. Word.
Oh, they love you for saying it. They adore working for someone who can …you know… fire them up like that. They tell stories about the last time you did it (especially when you’re around). At the company ‘do’ they make sure to tell your spouse or partner, admiringly, how good you are at it.
But they don’t actually do anything as a result. At least, not after having worked with you for about, oh... two months or so. After that. it's all just so much lukewarm, tepid water flowing around their ecosystem. It's just you being you.
Conversely, the stuff you’re so sick of repeating over and over and over again? The stuff for which you can’t muster much more than a croak when you do talk about it? The stuff that makes you physically ill to repeat? The things you say haltingly, that you have no flowery words for, that … well, you just stammer out?
That they believe. That, they act on. That, they know, is real.
So next time you really - really - need your team to listen, to believe you, to act on what you say, try dropping all the smooth communication skills you've developed over the years. Try talking to them unrehearsed, unpolished, and see if it makes a difference.
What about you? Which of these perception shifts would most positively impact your relationship with your team?
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