Ever wonder why as a leader you are unable to get that much sought after buy-in from your team? Even after you have done the requisite strategic analysis and prepared what you know to be a knock-out presentation, you get a lukewarm response from the team. Or at best, you get praises and congratulations and affirmations for what a great plan it is you have put forward yet- still no consistent action on the team’s part to bring the project to fruition.
You have given the usual talk that typically goes something along the lines of ‘we’re all in this together. This is our vision and for us to successfully fulfill our vision it needs each and every one of us to step up and play our parts” You pause for effect, then you may ask the questions” does anyone have any questions about this project? What do you think about what’s being asked of you? What are the necessary resources that must be in place to ensure we succeed with this project? Etc. etc.
You do get some questions and you may even get additions to the project that would enhance its success and even some considerations for possible obstacles that could get in the way of the project and how to successfully avoid these. Still, you are not seeing the desired outcomes for this project. You know something is blocking your team from truly performing to the high level you know they are capable of so you ask yourself- “what is stopping them from truly owning this project and running with it?”
This question is where most leaders need to start but rarely do. It is the secret ingredient to unveiling the emotional reality of their team. Without taking time to understand the emotional reality of the team and ensure team members are attuned to their emotional realities as well, you experience ‘flat growth’ and eventual death.
Emotional realities are the unspoken yet collectively agreed upon norms of your group. It is these norms of the group that shape the culture of the organization. Some may argue this is a chicken and egg scenario- does the culture of the organization shape the norms of the group or vice versa? I go with the group’s norm shaping the culture of the organization and it is where emotionally intelligent leaders would start in order to successfully lead their organization.
The emotional realities of your team members may revolve around members not knowing how to assert themselves in potentially difficult inter-personal situations; because they hold personal values regarding conflict and how to manage conflict. These values may be along the lines of let’s keep the peace, let’s not disturb or ruffle anyone’s feathers. You the leader may hold these same values and rather than model the way to your team how to effectively address these difficult situations- you may inadvertently lead by avoiding and hoping things will magically improve.
The opposite is true in how certain emotional realities of groups are shaped. You the leader may model a way that says do not question my decisions. Even if it might not be as blatantly said, you may not ensure all your team members’ voices are heard during meetings. You may lean in more to those team members with whom you connect more strongly on an emotional level.
Rather than ensuring the team can recite the vision and mission of the organization, that they actively participate and engage in retreats for team building or that they take yet another training course, it is recommended you start with understanding the teams’ emotional realities. These realities are closest to them as they live and work with them daily. The company’s vision and mission are distant entreaties that are not as immediate and dare I say relevant to their current realities.
To get desired change start with learning how to recognize the emotional realities of your team. Get comfortable facing the truths of the norms that govern your group. Until your team understands their emotional realities, desired change will not be realized let alone organizational change.
Next post I will share some insights with you on how to identify the emotional realities of your team in order to affect meaningful and lasting change.
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