Your last Leadership Bulletin began a discussion about how to get your team really humming. It discussed the need for all team members, 100% of the time, to be wearing their team hat.
Let’s now look at another critical way to get traction with your team’s performance…
Where’s the Finger Pointing?
Occasionally teams have overt conflict. But that’s not usually the case. What’s more usual is an underlying tension—a tension caused by one team member making another team member wrong. You know, the “pointing the finger outward, instead of inward” stuff.
As I travel between different leader and team coaching programs, with different people in different functions in different organizations, this finger pointing is often a standout development opportunity for all but the most astute leaders and teams.
The bottom line is this: Finger pointing behaviour isn’t productive. It causes the “pointee” to defend and justify their position. It doesn’t contribute to solving the problem!
If your team’s habitually pointing fingers, the team will definitely be contributing less to your organisation than it potentially could.
So, What if They are Wrong I Hear Some Protest?
Well, let’s look at that—How do you react when someone makes it clear that you’re wrong?
First, let’s remember that we’re acclimatised to blame and defend. Our newspapers, television and radio stations are full of it. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re quick to blame others. Just know that it’s not your best option.
When you’re made wrong you’re tempted to push back and make “the accuser” wrong. And so the tension increases.
It gets worse—When you sweep the increased tension under the carpet (or under the desk in this case ), it builds. And then, before you know it, you’re calling it a “personality conflict”.
Here’s where I really get on my soapbox…
There’s a fair chance you, somewhere, sometime, some place, are pointing your finger in blame, assigning fault to the other person, and wanting them to change what they’re doing.
And you can be sure that it’s happening in your team, somewhere, sometime, some place too.
If you’re having any problem with any other person, it’s incumbent on you, as a leader, to ask yourself the question, “How would I approach this if my finger was pointing inwards?
And to maximise productivity in your team, I encourage you to encourage your team members to do the same.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Will you make sure that you and your team members are never the snowflake that starts the avalanche?
In my coaching experience it’s not hugely difficult to have someone notice they’ve created a finger pointing habit. Nor is it difficult to have them want to shift their position. The tricky bit is having them focus on it long enough to form a different habit…
How are you and your team members going to form different habits?
- First, be alert for situations in which you’re saying to yourself, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
- When you notice you’re making the other person wrong, alter the dynamic by turning your finger in at yourself.
- Ask yourself productive questions like, “Is my behaviour constructive here? Am I being helpful right now?”
- Behave such that tomorrow you can look back and feel proud of the shift you made.
I know that when you consistently practise these four steps you’ll create some very good habits…and you’ll feel increasingly proud of the refined way in which you navigated some potentially unproductive encounters.
And imagine how productivity will be positively impacted when your team members habitually apply these questions too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.