✨Once upon a time…
in a beautiful coaching session… arrived this LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
My staff lacks motivation
– I’ve been working 15 years with a great team, have good relationship with them but lately, I’m concerned.
Our company is reorganizing, performance needs to be there or we’ll get some major cuts and the staff is lacking motivation.
I try to tell them but they avoid me.
– 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮?
– That we’re going through a major restructuring and there will be opportunities. We need to seize them.
– 𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘥𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧?
– Mixed feelings: worried I may lose my job, concerned I may need to fire staff I care for, excited as new opportunities will come. We even changed company name and I feel sad as if we’re erasing precious memories…
– 𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘧𝘧 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵?
– Of course, I cannot tell them! I’m a leader!
What is the real issue?
Before jumping to solutions, let’s explore about the underlying issue.
If we were the staff going through this major reorganization, how would we feel?
Probably equally concerned, worried, sad and to a certain extent excited by the new opportunities too.
They probably even more worried than I am. If I lose my job, I can still find one in a decent time and I have enough to wait for a while, but for them, they would struggle and their families as well. Must be a huge concern
Yet, if we were the staff that only hear from our leader about the beautiful side, how would we interpret his messages?
Think that our leader doesn’t care for us!
Think that he’s just taking advantage of this change!
Think that he’s traitor abandoning us!
And even nastier thoughts that may become rumors…
Emotions are universal connectors
The irony is that both leaders and staff probably feel the same, just that without expressing themselves fully, omissions lead to tensions.
Should we afford to drop the mask then?
Well, think about what does authenticity bring:
- Authenticity drives connection
- Authenticity creates trust
- Authenticity grounds leadership
How did the leader elegantly solve this challenge?
In his 1-on-1 weekly catch-ups, he simply shared about meaningful memories he had experienced, great people he had met, how much he had learnt over the last 15 years.
Those leaving him both grateful and sad that it no longer was under the same company name.
He also shared that he cares for his team members and is worried that together they may not reach KPI and face sad consequences if nothing changes, his job being equally at stake.
And he assured them they are opportunities within the new organization for them all, that he’s playing his part to seize them and need their help to play their part too. They are navigating that together.
And it worked… beautifully!
Wishing this leader and his teams to keep thriving now that they’ve grown their resilience even more!
With such challenge, what do you need to do?
It is quite subtle… since this leader was totally right not to share at a certain point.
Leaders who vastly share their stress, yell at others and add sarcasms to criticisms might be seen as authentic and getting things done on the short-term but they actually are completely sabotaging everything that matters on the long term: relationships, career, health and demonstrating they urgently need to sharpen their emotional intelligence.
Not sharing is often part of leadership…
- Leaders need to be strategic thinkers
Yet, it takes time until we can afford to share a strategy publicly.
And in the meantime, we are just a few – if not the only one – to carry the burden and hopes…
- Leaders need to drive change
Yet, adopting change is not easy, so we often need to only communicate partial information in sequence to certain groups progressively.
And in the meantime, we have to carry on knowing more and finding the right balance between sharing and postponing the revelations…
- Leaders need to role model
– When we notice a lack of integrity among our bosses or peers…
How do we role model integrity? What is appropriate to share? When? How?
– When we face a private challenge in our personal life…
How do we role model resilience? What is appropriate to share? When? How?
Here’s the step by step process
- 1. Clarifying our own emotions
How do I really feel?
Beyond the positive emotions, what else is bothering me?
Beyond all the confusion, what attracts me still?
- 2. Understanding their emotions
What do I often hear in recent conversations?
Which silences do I notice? What is becoming a taboo?
What has changed in the attitudes and behaviours lately?
- 3. Anchoring to our Northern star
Once all this is over, how do I want to feel?
What truly matters that I’m heading to?
What is it that I do not want to lose in any circumstances?
Where do I genuinely want to bring the team?
What is essential for us all?
What should be cherish and preserve?
- 4. Exploring what is at stake
What are the consequences for me and others and those observing us (peers, partners, clients, bosses, other business units, the whole system we are in) if I share?
What are these if I do not share now?
What if I never share?
- 5. Deciding on the action
Given our Northern star and what is at stake, what is best to share?
What is best to hold? Until when?
What would help to make it best understood?
When is the best timing?
What shall I do if someone else than me share earlier than I have decided?
What is truly essential that I want them to remember?
How do I want them to feel after we discussed?
Where are we heading to together?
- 6. Sharing in the most adequate way
Then, it’s simply about acting as planned.
Reflection before action: 5 essential steps to cover before sharing to ensure we remain an effective leader, keep people motivated and grow credibility.
What if we don’t cover these steps or only partially?
By not sharing or inadequately, one risk to lose credibility, damage trust and no longer have an authentic connection with our teams. These translate in lower performance, disengagement and best team members taking the next opportunity to leave.
Find an ally
We rarely have enough distance to observe ourselves and challenge our thought process enough to properly cover all 5 essential steps.
When we face such challenge, I kindly recommend to discuss these steps with a trusted mentor or book a coaching session to gain the clarity, retrieve the courage needed and feel empowered to take action.
Practice with other leadership challenges…
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About the Author
Coached 900+ global leaders to thrive with multicultural teams.
Her secret recipe: easy connection with leaders, joy in cultural diversity, trust in humanity and a slice of irreverence.
“Pragmatic and direct, simple and flexible, committed and caring” they say!
Give her a call, who knows? You may even succeed too 😉