Leading Without A Voice

Leading Without A Voice

Do you ever feel like you have one of those little gremlin voices in the back of your head, incessantly trying to convince you that you’re a fraud, that you don’t really know what you’re doing, that you’ve been lucky up to this point and one day — like that famous nightmare where you find yourself on stage, completely naked in front of an audience — you’re going to find yourself completely exposed and vulnerable? No? That’s just me then? Bummer! You know, if I’m not careful, that gremlin will start to steal my voice. Then what happens? As a professional speaker, that gremlin came to life a little while back. I was getting ready to do a full day retreat with an amazing team. I had been looking forward to leading this particular retreat for months, but to my dismay, the day before the event, I woke up without a physical voice. I don’t mean it was scratchy, I mean it was missing— although the gremlin voice was laughing loud and clear, repeating in that irritating sing-song tone: “I told you so, I told you so!”  Man, I hate that guy! To this day, I’m not sure what happened. I hadn’t been yelling and cheering at a concert for hours the night before. I didn’t have a cold. It didn’t hurt to swallow. Nothing. My voice was just…gone. And in just 24 short hours, I had to lead a full day-long retreat! I did everything I could think of to repair my poor vocal chords, but it did little to help. I got a whisper of a voice back, but I could only speak within a certain range, and...
When You Have To Lead People You Just Don’t Like

When You Have To Lead People You Just Don’t Like

Remember that unhappy employee we talked about last week?  Well, what happens when the leader catches on first and realizes they have an employee who just isn’t engaged? On the one hand I would take you straight back to last week’s article and see what you might be able to do differently. Ask yourself, how am I causing this behavior? Are there different perspectives to consider? Where am I disengaged and thus setting an unconscious standard that he/she might be emulating? On the other hand, they might just be a disengaged employee. And if they’re causing conflict among the team, and letting that employee go isn’t the prudent or best option, what do you do? A client of mine is currently in just this position. He’s mentoring a person who’s on a development track to branch out in the company. There are about 3 months to go in the program, then this person will have the opportunity to test out and sell himself into the next stage. The problem is, this employee is disengaged and fails to play by the rules of his current team. Knowing his mentorship is nearing the end, he has a bit of that ‘senioritis’ attitude, and doesn’t quite live up to his mentor’s expectations. My client, the mentor, is understandably frustrated. Many of you are likely thinking, why put up with it? Just fire him!  Fair enough, but if my client can stick with the program, he is 3 months away from a mid-five figure bonus from the company for mentoring, a job which he has done remarkably well and in which he has invested more than 18 months of...
What To Do When You’re Stuck In A Job You Hate

What To Do When You’re Stuck In A Job You Hate

A client came to me a while back with a conundrum: She hated her job, but was paralyzed to move because she’d quit a decent job to take this new one for all the right reasons. Now, a year into it, she wasn’t getting along with her boss, opportunities she was teased with have disappeared; she was stressed, unhappy, and overworked, and she desperately wanted to get out of there. Since she wasn’t independently wealthy and just working for fun, she, like most of us, didn’t have the option of simply quitting. At least, not until she found another job — so there she sat, stuck in a job she hated, overwhelmed and confused about how to escape, afraid of making another bad decision. Cut to about three or four weeks later: She’s still working there, happy, buying coffee for her boss before leaving our session and pretty much loving most every minute of it – a near 180 degree shift in a reality where nothing substantially changed. Well, nothing except for one thing: her perspective. You see, how we approach things, see things, chose to think about things, the language we use to describe and define our circumstances and situations all matter. A lot! She was a good employee who had completely valid complaints about her work environment. But the power of her perspective controlled her reality. So we shifted her perspective in a deep and functional way. The first thing we did was to recognize when and how these circumstances have shown up in her past; after all, the previous job couldn’t have been perfect, or this one wouldn’t have enticed her away. In that exploration we...
The Greatest Bosses Have This Peculiar Dichotomy

The Greatest Bosses Have This Peculiar Dichotomy

The greatest bosses seem to have a peculiar dichotomy that allows them and the teams they lead to thrive: They are at once both a rock and a chameleon. They are the Rock of their team. They are reliable, trustworthy, consistent, and unerringly confident in their vision. They stand firm in the confidence of knowing who they are, and they provide the foundation for their team to succeed and build upon. They are Chameleons for their team: they are masterful at genuinely adapting to their environment. Great bosses recognize that they set the tone and culture — which will hit different people, who all have different struggles, in different ways. The Chameleon nature allows them to meet people where they are, without compromising what is expected for the standard and the culture they have set. It’s connecting on a personal level with every member of their team; it’s getting on their level. It’s blending into the background so that your team shines, not you. A Chameleon. And a Rock. A chameleon, knowing when to be visible and when to fade into the background so your team shines — and a rock in a storm, having the ability during difficult times to take the brunt of the responsibility, standing strong against the elements and providing safety and confidence so that your people can experience how it’s done. Then, when it’s their turn, they too can be a great boss — Translation: A...
What Do You Do When Both Sides Are “Right”?

What Do You Do When Both Sides Are “Right”?

Recently, I was working with a group that was having severe conflict. A new director had been brought in, and some members of the team didn’t like the way he was doing things. They had a difficult time following his direction. The new director, for his part, has decades of experience and is a nationally recognized leader in his field, and he wanted them to respect his knowledge and authority. The hardest part about this particular conflict was that both sides were kind of right. They each had excellent points, and when you listened to one side, their perspective made perfect sense. That is, until you heard the other side of it. Then that side made perfect sense, too. And it’s not that neither side was willing to yield an inch, it’s that they both believed they’d already yielded enough, and to give up more would be detrimental. It’s gotten to the point where there has been talk considering disbanding the team altogether, which would be terrible. As leaders, this is where real leadership shows up. It’s easy to tell people what to do, and it’s easy to lead when your team simply respects your authority and follows along. But how do we address this when they don’t? How do we deal with a situation where both parties are kind of right — but neither party is willing to yield further? This particular problem felt, to me, like a microcosm of what’s happening in our world at large. Because a lot of the cultural discussion going on around us is decidedly not focused on collaboration or community — it’s focused on being right. If I can’t bend...