Cracks in your team

In coaching conversations these last few weeks, it’s clear the work culture is shifting for some, hybrid for many. Most like having no set place to sit when they work in the office. It fosters collaboration, they say.

Their collaborative, teamwork mindset is evident. They enjoy getting things done with and through others. They’re aware that everyone is riddled with cracks, some smoothed, golden, having learned from past experiences; others still jagged. (See last week’s message: Your cracks)

Your ability to work with others’ cracks and differences makes you the leader you are today.

You get to figure out what works. What makes them work at an acceptable (and higher) level? What’s important to them? What’s their viewpoint? What’s behind their perspective? Learning about them makes it easier to know how best to lead.

I’m thinking of a leader who is frustrated with her team’s dynamics, trying to figure out how to bring them together now that they’re in two camps – one loyal to a leader who is leaving. We talked about what she could do toward repairing the cracks. In 1:1 and team meetings:

  1. Talk about her vision for what the team is working toward, its impact, the value of their combined knowledge, skills, teamwork. How she sees them in it. Ask for their input.
  2. Acknowledge her mistakes, omissions, and commitment to work on her approach. Make it clear she’s open to listening. Tell them they may not always agree, but she’s willing to listen, consider and talk about her reasoning so they understand where she’s coming from… and she’d like to know theirs as well.
  3. Ask each team member to send her one or two things the team could do better to make a positive difference in the months ahead. Be clear she’s open to hearing whatever they want to share. Promise she’ll digest it and get back with them.
  4. The team will pay attention to how she handles what she learns. Circling back is key, whether she’s going to act on their suggestions, consider them for the future, or decline and give her reasons why.  

Acknowledging she has cracks and is learning from them is role modeling admirable leadership behavior. She’ll learn from her team what requires change. Fostering collaboration will be key.

This approach works for high powered teams as well, whether you think there are cracks or not.

We all can grow from our cracks and what we do with them. Admitting you – and the team – have cracks you’d like to work on is not easy to do, but it’s the first step in the repairing process. That first step is key.

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