A while back I was in the gym running on the treadmill. As I glanced up at the TV I caught the phrase ‘What happens when those who lead us, insult us?’
Now, I don’t know what they were talking about or in what context, but the very text of this phrase got me thinking.
Are we cognizant of our actions and aware that the things we say or do (or don’t do!) might actually be insulting to those we are supposed to be leading?
A lot of leaders have a tendency to lose focus, instead of providing clarity on what is already in sight. This happens to the best of us, and sometimes we end up insulting the team without even knowing it. This can create long term problems if not recognized and dealt with immediately.
3 things leaders might subconsciously be doing to insult their team
1. They ignore them
A team member approaches you with a problem and is expecting to hear some wisdom or gain some insight. What they get in return are empty promises, no satisfaction and blank stares. The team member feels as if they have been abandoned and are not sure where or who to turn to next.
2. They make assumptions
You have made assumptions about the team and their individual actions without taking the time to find a real solution. These assumptions may be based on postive intentions, but your actions were not interpreted as so.
3. It doesn’t seem like they care
You have unplugged yourself from the mission. The team has been working very hard and have no support. In addition to the lack of support, they are also not receiving the recognition that is required.
3 things you can do to prevent subconscious insults
1. Take intentional action towards serving
Put yourself in their place. If you were trying to deliver on a task and then hit a roadblock, what would you expect to get in return when prying for insight? If you can not help right away, write it down, and provide a time when they can expect to hear back from you.
If you are the one looking up to someone else for a little service, ask a simple question like “When can I follow up with you concerning this?” Asking this puts the action back in your hands while leaving a deadline to get feedback.
2. Be quick to ask more questions first
‘Don’t jump to conclusions.’ We have all heard this term used in some context before. It holds true in every situation though. By making quick assumptions backed by a lack of evidence, a leader can lose trust and quickly alienate himself from the team. The minute you suspect the need for a change, ask questions first. There is a good chance that the team will have more knowledge on the specific issue because they have been in the fight longer.
3. Show them that you care
The team has taken the project and literally ran with it. They have done you well in the past and earned your trust. Now you have confidence in them and it can be easy to become disengaged from the whole collaborative effort. Despite the fact that they can absolutely handle it, and there is no need for the project to be “managed”, you should at least get in on the fun. Take a moment to recognize their hard work and do something creative like taking the reigns so they can go home an hour early.
Are you consciously aware of your subconscious actions?