Change Works

Change works

Step back to spring forward

Hello, Everyone!

It's Val, here.

Let’s talk about failure.

During a recent meeting with my Non-Profit team in Kenya, I really messed up. Big time.

Just to give you a visual, the way I was behaving was less “Inspiring Founder” and more Fire Chief, in the middle of a burning building, megaphone in hand, barking orders and opinions. I REALLY wanted them to just get on board with my ideas about the direction we needed to go in. I wanted their buy-in. And I wanted it so badly, that I didn’t even take a breath to give any of them a chance to contribute. I looked at my team across the Zoom and wondered why they weren’t as enthusiastic as I was, and even worse, the energy had gone from engaged and positive to “What’s she talking about?” and “When will it end?”

Then I began to notice what I was feeling–exhaustion like I was pushing a giant boulder up a hill, heart pumping, but feeling the strain of the effort. And one thought popped into my head:

“You’re your own worst enemy.”

Yep, I had single-handedly and unskillfully used my enthusiasm to squeeze the life out of my team.

I’ve learned that the way I act is often a catalyst for bad vibes–even paralysis–on the team.

I took over–the result of which was that I was the only one running the discussion and the team didn’t feel comfortable to contribute a different perspective.

And I call myself a champion of Psychological Safety.

Dina and I talk to teams all the time about developing the practice of leveraging the diverse wisdom in the room.

Well it just goes to show, in the moment:

  1. Bad behaviors can resurface, no matter how much we train for the contrary. In fact, it takes mindful dedication and self-awareness to keep oneself in check.
  2. Leaders that opt for Control over Collaboration end up with exactly the opposite of what is best for the team and organisation–generative discussions and creative solutions to problem solving.

So what did I learn and what are the practices I’m going to try my best to implement?

#1: W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking?) is a great acronym to keep top of mind and will help me to remind myself that the opportunities for free sharing of ideas only begin when I stop talking and give the space for it.

#2: Don’t just expect people to contribute, invite them to do so.  Call out especially the team members who contribute the least, because very often they are the wisest (they’ve had a lot of practice sitting back, watching everyone else make mistakes! ). A simple “What do you think, INSERT NAME?” will do.

#3: Create the Psychological Safety necessary for people to be able to take risks and share their thoughts.

If you struggle with creating Psychological Safety on your own team we recently made a video about it: Click here to go to our video - How to Create Psychological Safety on your Team.

#4 Relinquish control and encourage the team to run with projects on their own, asking for my support, if needed, along the way.

In other words, I'm going to step back and watch them spring forward.

As I look at the above list I think to myself: “It’s so easy!  Why don’t I do this more?”

Well, because, as already established, I’m my own worst enemy….

AND a work in progress, like all Leaders.

We’ve developed a cheat sheet with easy exercises you can implement right now to get your team connecting better. Click the link below to get a FREE copy of 3 Key Elements to Boost Team's Performance.

Access here to get a FREE copy