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Ouch! Leading teams can really hurt (video)

Posted by Simon Thiessen on 07-Mar-2016 09:00:00


If no-one is pissed off, you probably aren’t doing it right

“Ow! That really hurts!” That’s the message I’ve been hearing from a bunch of managers that we’ve been working with recently. Today, I want to talk to you about what it is that hurts and how to respond to it.

My name’s Simon Thiessen; I’m the CEO of the Real Learning Experience, and I know from personal experience how exposing, how vulnerable leadership can be.

Leading teams transcript

One of the things that happens when you are leading teams is that you, by virtue of the role, sit yourself slightly apart from the team. Is it possible to combine leading teams as well as being one of the team? Absolutely! But you also need to sometimes be apart from the team. Leading teams apart

Read: The real power of leadership: creating climates that produce results

What’s even more certain is that the people in the team, even if you work hard to stay one of them, will start to perceive a little bit of “us and them” because of your different role. And because of that, you are exposed, you are vulnerable.

What do I mean by exposed and vulnerable? Well, let’s be honest. You’re the person who’s more likely to have some potshots taken at them when people aren’t happy with the way things are going around here, when people aren’t happy with decisions. And for someone leading teams to survive, we have to develop a really strong mindset.

Read: Leadership style: WHY you need determines HOW you lead

You're not there to make people happy

Here’s the deal: you’re not there to make people happy. You’re there to do the right thing, and that’s a fundamentally different perspective. If you go home at night, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the question “Have I made everyone happy today?” you’re going to have a lot of bad days. trans_leading_teams_quote.png

If you go home at night, look in the mirror and ask the question “Did I do the right thing today?” then ideally you’ll have a lot more healthy days and happy days. Of course, that depends on doing the right thing even if it’s not easy.

I often say a little bit tongue in cheek - but also with a bit of truth about it – that if you’re not upsetting some of your people some of the time, you’re probably not doing it right. Of course, we need to add: if you’re upsetting all of them, all of the time, that’s an equal sign that you’re not doing it right.

Read: Managing conflict in the workplace: right v happy

The need to be resilient

leading_teams_resilient.jpgSo what does all this mean? It means that people leading teams need to be resilient, and the best way to be resilient is to judge ourselves differently. Go back to my earlier comment that you’re not there to keep people happy, you’re there to do the right thing. Often, those two things will coincide, but not all of the time. If you think about this: anytime you hold someone accountable to something they don’t want to be held accountable to; anytime you make a decision that not everyone wants to hear; anytime you give feedback about a behavior or performance that was not at the standard you expect; anytime you say no to people -“we won’t do that or we can’t have that resource”; in any of those instances you’re likely to upset people. As a leader, they feel often it’s OK to have a shot at you about that. And if you’re not resilient, if you take all of those things to heart and personally, leadership’s going to be a very tough road for you.

Read: 6 Leadership skills you can't truly succeed without

Don’t let me put you off. Leadership is a wonderful journey and it’s something I encourage you to embrace. However, be prepared for not pleasing people all of the time and be OK with that. Thanks again for watching!


Topics: Leadership, Team Development