The concept Paul and I are working on is this…can the way you think actually change the way you lead your team, thus change the culture of your organization? I was excited to check in with Paul this week to see how he made out with his “positive intention” homework. To recap, Paul had 2 pieces of homework last week…1) spend time at the end of each day journaling about what went right; and 2) identify at least one positive trait that each employee displayed that day.
Considering Another Perspective
Paul and I sat down to discuss the week and he said his biggest surprise was what he learned…mostly about himself! As Paul struggled with the journaling exercise he admitted how challenging it was to keep the focus on what went well…he was truly amazed at just how hard habits are to break. Paul had gotten into the habit of trusting his long term, and so predetermined “loyal” employers, in favor of those who he had yet to be impressed by. This brought up the question to Paul of if he was giving his employers a fair shot at the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments, or if praise was being dismissed due to such tasks being job requirements.
The ‘negative thinking’ cycle that Paul was in was proving to be much more difficult to break than he had imagined. He discovered just how firmly entrenched he was in looking for the negative as opposed to seeing the positive. As much as Paul first balked at this exercise…”I don’t have time to journal every day, I’m trying to run a business”…the importance of taking the time to complete this exercise was starting to dawn on him. As the week went on he found it easier to identify the positive things that were going on within his organization. As he recognized the positives, he made a point to pass that positive feedback on to his team. He said he got lots of surprised looks and blank stares which made him realize that his employees apparently were not used to hearing positive comments from him. Wow…what a revelation! Paul really had no idea the impact he was having on his own organization. He thought it was his employees who were creating the negative culture, he truly was not aware of his own role!
Armed with this new found reality, Paul renewed his commitment to make time to focus on his leadership skills and continue the ‘positive intention’ exercise so that he can create the change he desires in his organization.
Is it Time to Reflect?
Think about your last week…how did your leadership contribute to your work culture? Was it a positive contribution? What did you notice about yourself and your impact on your culture? Consider these questions:
- Did you make time to check in with your employees?
- Were there any instances where you felt unsure about how you handled a situation?
- What feedback did you receive – positive or negative?
As I pondered this question for myself I identified a communication breakdown that occurred in my own organization last week. It would have been easy to blame another team member for the incident; it was a little grey as to whose responsibility it was. However, considering the fact that I was focused on ‘leading with positive intention’ I decided it really didn’t matter who dropped the ball, ultimately it was my responsibility to show leadership in the situation. I took full responsibility with the client, in front of the team mate involved, and then the three of us came up with a resolution to ensure the situation would be dealt with differently in the future. As tough as it is to admit weakness as a leader, the result of this seemingly small incident was a stronger connection with both my team mate and the client…trust was restored very quickly!