Have you ever been part of a team where the possibilities seemed limitless? These types of teams feel unstoppable and it’s exhilarating. How about the opposite, have you been part of a team where it felt that nothing was possible? Where you felt blocked at every turn? These teams tend to feel frustrating and stagnant. They feel caught in a spiral of negativity.
Why are some teams unstoppable while others can’t get out of first gear? The answer can be found by looking at the leader’s response to possibilities.
When we go into fight or flight, our brain shuts itself off to new possibilities. Leaders who operate from a place of fight or flight can limit the possibility for success for their entire team. You might be doing this without even realizing it.
Are you going into a situation expecting it to suck? Take this example, HR is requiring two teams to attend diversity training; Ann is the leader of team A and Bea leads team B. Ann feels that her team is crazy busy and has no time for this. Ann pushes back against HR and complains about it to her team. While in the training, Ann pulls her team out of the room for emergencies.
Bea knows that her team is busy, so if her team is going to spend time in training she’s going to make sure it’s valuable. She views the training as an opportunity to use diversity to improve the productivity of her team. She encourages their team to embrace the training and come back with ideas to implement.
What possibilities do you think each team creates from this experience?
Are you burning time on negativity? Negativity is time-consuming. Operating from a place of blame, justification, and obligation takes a lot of energy. And when leaders operate from this place, the effect is multiplied exponentially. Christopher Avery’s Responsibility Process uses the metaphor of “Above the Line/Below the Line” to distinguish between what it’s like to take responsibility and what happens when you don’t. Leaders who operate in low-responsibility create negativity for their teams and shut down the possibility for success. High responsibility leaders find ways to make things right, low-responsibility leaders complain about things that are wrong.
When a leader spends their time and their team’s time complaining it costs the company money. How many person-hours are you spending complaining? What if this time was spent moving forward?
Do you have a million reasons why it won’t work? There are a million reasons why things might not work. Teams that dwell on why things won’t work tend to get mired in hopelessness. High performing teams look for the reasons that it can work. Leaders who seed their teams with endless complaints create a culture of “can’t”. Help your team find the door to possibilities, don’t point them towards the doors that are closed.
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay
— Lady Gaga
How have you helped your team open up possibilities? Let us know!