(210) 558.5917 jharris@gracepoint.org

Team Leading and the Tough Conversations

One-on-one conversations are the way to go when an individual is in need of direction, coaching or correction, but there are times when your entire team needs a course correction and clarity.  On these occasions, it is helpful to “principalize” the subject rather than personalize.

First, identify the issue:  Rather than address a circumstance identify the issue and set expectations.  For example, “I would like for us to re-think our time away policy. I think we run the risk of overextending and so I’d like to lay out my expectations here”….  Avoiding personal examples and clearly stating your expectations allows the group to digest together.

Second, address the consequences:  When expectations aren’t met, there are going to be disappointments or aggravation if the expectations aren’t reinforced.  In a group, addressing and foreshadowing consequences is helpful.  In the above example one might say, “ When we don’t respect the time away policy it has a personal consequence (direct reports feel disrespect and might begin seeing the individual as disrespectful), it has a relational consequence (there is possible tension that builds up), it has team consequences (the team effectiveness is slowed or complicated and may affect performance), and ultimately professional consequences (an individual who is persistently disrespectful of the team may not be on the team).

Finally, attempt to get buy in:  “ Do you see how this might adversely affect the team?”  “ Can I challenge you guys to be together on this?”  “ Are there any questions or concerns?”

One of the great things about Team Coaching is it gives everyone the opportunity to align simultaneously and ask questions or concerns.  Avoid the personalization when dealing with a team issue is key.  If it’s a personal issue, deal with it privately, but if it’s a team issue principalize the issue, clarify the consequences and get buy in.

2 thoughts on “Team Leading and the Tough Conversations”

  1. Love your new website and it’s potential to influence more globally.

    Great commentary on some tough subjects; teamwork, coaching and leadership.

    I have been and remain convinced in the observation that “ALL FAILURE IS LEADERSHIP FAILURE” in the final analysis. I remain confident in this, because I fail regularly and strive daily to learn from past mistakes and maintain self awareness for the benefit of those whom I serve and lead. That level of responsibility can’t be delegated and it is a unique yoke that comes with the gift of leadership. However, the abuse of leadership power and the all too frequent self serving actions of public leaders, so evident in today’s business, political and sadly, even church leadership on a regular basis, reinforces the distrust of so many leaders.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are many good leaders out there, they just don’t get the broad press that society and people seem to crave when a leader falls short of expectations. Leaders are people too, they just bounce higher when they fall! When leaders feign the appearance of having all the answers and project a brand that “I am flawless” and expect their followers to reflect the same persona, it always leads to group conflict and team failure. Yet, another example of all failure is leadership failure. I am reminded weekly of where a new hire “just didn’t work out.” Really, whose fault is that in the final analysis? It is unbiblical to disparage a persons character, by appearing to assign all the blame on that person being released, as being unfit to serve in the role and meet the expectations of the job they were hired to do. In my experience, it is nearly always the fault of the leader filling the job, who clearly doesn’t know the skills, character or intrinsic attributes that will lead to success that the job requires.

    I believe the biblical principles that were taught at home, and reinforced by school and society, that became the basis to punish and remove the bad leaders, has been diluted and all but eliminated under the disguise of progress and preference for a more tolerant and kinder society. What the world needs is the tough love of God and the peace and forgiveness of Jesus, modeled by His followers on Earth. Humble, servant-oriented, moral, ethical and collaborative leaders will lead to a better society and world, based on trust and mutual respect of others.

    Learning the principles and ethical practices of true leadership is not an easy path. It requires the daily discipline to deny oneself of the individual needs for the benefit of the many. Linda Fisher Thornton, author of “7 Lenses – Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership,” a book, on what I believe are the beginnings of future leadership playbook and a basis for a new birth of daily congruent actions everyone seeks to find in leaders. I don’t know if Ms. Thornton is a believer, but I do see the basis of the book clearly linked to biblical principles. If you find the time to read her book, I would appreciate your thoughts?

    Thank you for leading.

    Lead on my friend, May God continue to Bless and Guide His leaders!

    1. Thanks Kevin, I will check out Thornton’s books. I agree with you that so much of what I struggle with in leadership has less to do with the sagging performance or unmet expectations of others but the deliberate coaching and leadership to help the arrive. Staying on the journey…You are what you produce.

Comments are closed.