Ya gotta get prickly

by: Rich Jones

The biggest threat to a team or organization is complacency. The minute a team is okay with the status quo, all growth, innovation and improvement stops. One symptom of complacency is group think. This is when everyone sits in a meeting in silence and the robotic bobble-heads begin to bob with every agenda item. We’ve all been there… Since when did we define “working and playing well with others” as blind agreement and stifled voices?

When bobble-heading happens on a team a leader must ask him/herself, “How did we get here?” This journey into complacency has been a slow erosion of goals, aspirations, vision and purpose. It didn’t just show up at the meeting table.

So what started this erosion? To be blunt, lack of a leader. To keep teams and organizations engaged they must always be challenged and leaders must always challenge themselves. Team members are at their happiest, most productive and most engaged when leadership is demanding them to learn, stretch, grow everyday while reinforcing how their work is important to the organization, it’s customer and/or its employees. This is the most important work a leader can do.

How do we create a learning, growing, stretching and contributing culture?

It starts with trust. The team must trust leadership first. This only comes from the leader being not just truthful but also being transparent. Trust starts not from strength but from vulnerability. Being vulnerable and allowing team members to be vulnerable is an important step to trust. The leader must them continually demonstrate trust for each team member. If you can’t do this you have the wrong people in the chair(s).

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