Learned Helplessness

Reading social media today I came across an article on Learned Helplessness.  You need to google it to get a full understanding however it really struck me how this might happen to our teams.

The article I read was about horses and how they often begin to ignore pain and other stressors simply because they can’t get away.

As leaders we often want our teams to work a certain way.  We want to push them into a behavior that makes sense to us, the leader!  We either can’t or don’t want to deal with behavior that seems outside of our norm.

We punish, belittle, even use sarcasm to get behavior we want.  By doing this we often make our team become numb to their own pain.  Now there are behaviors that do not go well when working with a team, however by using punishment we often get to our results faster and with little work on our part!

Take the horse for example, Duke doesn’t like pressure.  (Pressure for horses means bad things and they react to that pressure). Horses also don’t like things they can’t process.  Noises, shifts in their vision all cause them to spook.  It is our job to get the horse to trust us to keep them safe.  We do this by exposing them to these pressures and noises and by showing them that we are keeping them safe.  We want them to trust us!  However, some people use other methods to train their horses.  They punish them, they leave them tied tightly to force the spook out of them. Horses who are trained this way learn they can’t escape and eventually become really good horses on the outside but they are no longer horses on the inside!

As leaders are we doing this to our teams? Are we tying them down to simply get behavior we want instead of teaching them to trust us.  Teaching our team to trust us means we have to make difficult decisions, we have to stand up to our leadership for our teams.  We then often have to go back to our teams and tell them we failed.  We have to show that we aren’t perfect and that is a hard thing to do!

Think about this as you lead your teams, what if you were honest with them!  What if you told them the truth that you spoke up at the last meeting but you were turned down. Or that you feel that the decision is a good one for the organization and that you support it even if it means something bad for the team?

When someone on your team works in a way that is different or in a way that maybe needs improvement, try understanding why they work that way and getting them to trust you that your way might be better?

Being a good leader isn’t about forcing people into a mold it’s about getting them to trust you and know that you have their best interest at heart!!

Good Leaders…..

Lead!  They lead, but not only do they lead they DO! When you think about some of the best leaders you have seen in your life and in history they all have 1 thing in common, they DO! They don’t just talk, they DO!  They lead by example!

This doesn’t mean they solve your problems, it doesn’t mean they jump in and make the issue go away it means they HELP!

When I started in my current industry my boss was notorious for asking did you look it up?  Did you try to recreate it?  It furstrated me to no end because more often than not I had NOT done those things!  I wanted him to solve the problem for me, because I knew he had the answer!  The problem was he wanted ME to find the answer not just have it handed to me!!

As a leader I have learned that this frustrates most of us, we want to have our problems solved quickly and easily and often without work on our part, however this isn’t always the best for our team!  Yes as the leader you have the answer, no that doesn’t mean you should solve all the problems!!

Ask questions, ask what problem solving techniques your team has used and acknowledge that you sense their frustration and that you will help them get to the right answer!  Now if you have a screaming mad client you may have to jump in and solve the problem, because that could get ugly quickly! Most of the time though we don’t have a screaming client, we have a frustrated team member.

Today instead of simply solving the problem, ask questions see if your team has tried to solve the problem and offer ideas on where they might find the answers!

Then take your team out for drinks because you are ALL going to need it after!!

Potential from the Inside Out

gabi

This photo is my Sister in law.  She isn’t pretty by the worlds standards, however she has the biggest heart for those hurting in this world.

How many times as leaders have we made a snap judgement because someone looks different.  Maybe they are overweight or their teeth aren’t prefect… and we look at them and think they can’t do this job how can they lead?

What if instead of looking at what was on the outside we took a moment and reviewed the inside?  How would this look at our jobs and in our day to day lives?

As leaders we often have to make quick decisions, our teams expect us to know what’s going on and how we are to accomplish our goals, however these decisions don’t have to be made based on what we see on the outside.  We can take a moment and talk to our teams, find out what motivates them, what their goals are.

I love this quote from Brennan Manning
“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary. Please, this is not some Pollyanna optimism that is blind to the reality of evil, but rather like a fine radar system that is tuned in to the true, the good, and the beautiful.” – Brennan Manning

As leaders our main job is to raise up those around us, sure it’s important to make the company money and reach goals, however we can’t do any of those things if we don’t have a good team and that doesn’t mean pretty! It means people who have the potential to lead and get the job done!

This week when you go into work, I challenge you to look at the people around you, the ones you don’t always see and think about what good they bring to your organization.  For example the person who cleans your office,  they may seem unimportant, but think about it your office was always dirty and you couldn’t sit down?  You couldn’t do your job!  Or the person who makes the coffee, I can’t imagine any of us think that person isn’t important!

Next get to know these folks ask they how they are, what are they doing?  Maybe she’s a student working towards a degree, or a single dad who works at night to be with his kids during the day.  Our next post will take this a step further! But for now… see the people, not what they look like but who they are!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is perfection an option

Being perfect is something that ALOT of people strive for and in certain situations and professions it’s kind of important.  As I sit on my couch and watch a season of Air Disasters, I realize that being a pilot means you really need to be perfect at your job, however here’s a news flash, YOU AREN’T PERFECT!

Yup I know this is a huge announcement – you aren’t perfect, let that sink in!  Can you strive to be better, sure! Can you strive to improve of course, but you will never be perfect, you see we simply aren’t.  Human’s have flaws, lots of them!  When we expect perfection from those around us we set them AND us up to fail.  Asking your team to never make a mistake and simply accepting no less isn’t going to happen!

Now if you are a doctor, you really want to be as close as possible which is why check lists are SO important and that’s a post for another day! However learning to accept our team’s imperfections actually makes us better leaders.

I was training Keno yesterday and we are learning to communicate with each other.  We both make mistakes, he makes them because he’s a horse and misreading my cues and I make them because I am still learning!

What would it look like for you to review your teams mistakes as learning opportunities or process improvements?  Now some mistakes are simply that, someone forgot to check a box or read the check list and of course the scenarios of performance issues.  However, if we take a step away from the performance problems, is there a problem with our process?  Are we training the wrong way?  As organizations we must review mistakes as just that a mistake, and remove the stigma of it being made.

Once we take it out of the discipline area and we start to review the WHY we can start to slow the mistakes down.  Looking at mistakes as learning opportunities allows everyone to learn from them.

Today take a moment when a team member makes a mistake and ask yourself why did the mistake get made? Are other team members having similar issues? Do you need to provide training, a check list or is there another reason.  Take the person out of it and see what you can find!

Speaking the Truth

quiet

As leaders it is our job to give feedback and when that feedback can be negative we often choose silence instead of the truth.  This can actually get us into trouble.  If we have a situation that really requires honesty we must provide it.  HOWEVER!  That also means that we think about our words before they are spoken.

I had a member of a volunteer team that just wasn’t getting it.  It was a husband and wife team and they just didn’t see the mission, or at least I didn’t think they did.  So I spoke with my boss and he suggested I ask them to step down.  So I did, I fired them. The issue is that I didn’t really tell them WHY they were being asked to step down.

I didn’t take the time to think about what they were or were not doing that wasn’t moving the mission forward.  If I had taken the time I may have realized that they were simply in the wrong role.  You see my inability to be quiet for a moment really ruined a friendship and caused 2 people to move to another church.

Speaking honestly is difficult and must be thought about very extensively! You see while we may know the words need to be spoken the way they are said can cause extensive damage.  Understanding that can really help us grow as leaders.

If I had taken time to think about the issues and how we could get past them I may have stopped 2 people from being told they were bad and couldn’t serve.

Thankfully I have learned ALOT since that day and I have learned how to speak honestly with team members and ensured that when these conversations have to happen they go as smoothly as possible.

Talking with a trusted advisor will help as will thinking about the issue, what the problem is and how you hope to resolve it.

Good Luck Conflict is never easy!  However you can get through it!

Stop Complaining

I am very good at complaining.  It’s like my super power!  Oh and blaming, I have that one down as well.  Pretty much if something goes wrong it cannot be my fault!  I didn’t do it, didn’t cause it and if you think I did I will complain until you stop talking!

I would guess we are all really good at complaining, what most of us are NOT good at is stopping.  I mean really who wants to stop doing their super power!  But maybe, just maybe – and hear me out here – complaining shouldn’t be our go to.

There is a difference between talking about an issue and complaining about it!

For example let’s say at my job the wrong documents are provided to the client.  I could complain, “they didn’t really tell me which ones” or “the dumb review team imaged them so I provided them” or I could say “wow, ok this is an issue how do we resolve it now and how do we keep it from happening going forward”.

Complaining as a leader only makes us look, well.. dumb!  We look like we have no idea what we are doing and then we make our team and ourselves look really like we have no clue!

Honestly we might not have a clue!  The issue might be one where we simply aren’t sure what happened.  Let me tell you the team and the client usually don’t care.  They want the issue fixed AND they want to know it won’t happen again.

Complaining to ANYONE doesn’t resolve the issue.  You can talk about it, talk through how you think it happened if your goal is to attempt to resolve the issue from happening again, but complaining isn’t going to help.

Now many of you are probably asking, well how do I know I am complaining well you have to stop and ask yourself – why am I talking about this?  Do I need to vent? (That’s actually OK if it’s with someone you trust and don’t work with) or am I simply complaining because something bad happened. If it’s the latter, then STOP!  Take a breath and relax.  Usually work mistakes aren’t that big of a deal and noone is going to die over them.

Take a step back and realize that you or someone on your team made a mistake (we are human it will happen) and figure out how to resolve it.

Today I want you to start to think about when you complain, is it in the car at other drives, the grocery store, about your spouse or significant other, kids?  Then stop yourself and ask if this is really going to get you to the end result?  If this isn’t going to resolve the issue then STOP!  If you are venting, give yourself 5 minutes to vent and then STOP! Then either work through a solution or take a walk.. Either way as leaders we need to STOP complaining.