This topic came up with a business coaching client the other day and I thought I’d share. The leader I was working with, a Commander, was struggling with waiting for “things to fall into place” and to come together. His impatience was building, stress increasing and employees were scattering like mice, looking busy, but not really focused on the plan or direction of the organization. They were frozen in fear and this slowed down achievement, driving the leader to even greater levels of frustration. Got a strategy or a strategic plan, direction, set of goals? Here’s why you want to use patience while you push forward and keep up progress.
Pushing rope never works
So you’ve got a plan and a deadline. Your normal work style may be to push and push to meet the deadline and get more done in a day than most do in a week. Great. If you’re working with those who are more geared toward specific needed direction, keep giving to them. Avoid assuming they relish the chance to take initiative. If those you lead who are more conservative or analytical in their approach, share with them all those details you keep in your head that you assume they know. No matter who they are, if you’re different, consistently expecting them to move at your speed in your way will make you impatient, frustrated, and feel like you’re pushing rope.
Fear makes them focus on staying safe
If you’re frustrated and taking it out on those you lead, check your expectations first and their competence second, and then thirdly, pay attention to the impact of that fear factor. If you’re an ambitious, hard driving, competitive, “get it done” person, you may come across in an intimidating way when stressed. This intimidation creates fear and those who don’t see through it, and most don’t, will run for the hills looking for a safe haven. The extroverts will find others to talk with about your behavior. The introverts will clam up and hibernate. Neither behavior is keeping them focused on the task or plan or progress. As the sign says “Keep Calm and Carry On”… and so will they.
It’s not always easy or necessary to “go with the flow” and certainly the most powerful leaders have been able to light a fire under those they lead, but they do it with care, consideration and differently for different team members. There are times to push and make your immediate needs known and there are times to give them the time to get it done in a way they are proud. Does that action item that the team decided was important, really need to get done this instant? Maybe yes, maybe now. Can you still stay on track with the plan without creating the need for damage control? Those who are driven tend to see everything as a TOP priority, but they also might miss some details, right timing, or needed resource that hadn’t shown up or been seen in the rush to finish everything NOW.
You need the entire team behind the plan and to have that be consistent, the leader’s role is to be behind the entire team, supporting their efforts, developing their skills, and helping them grow. Grow together and the plan comes together.