This week I’m going to examine some typical things that happen in the workplace and how they are relevant to leaders.
Complaint: My boss doesn’t care about me.
In the absence of feedback, people’s inner narratives take over. In an effort to understand the world, our minds create reasons as to why people are behaving the way they are, but these inner narratives can be misleading.
In the absence of connection, we are more likely to construct negative narratives, so when leaders and followers don’t have consistent time together, both of them may default to creating negative narratives about each other’s behavior. This leads to a damaging cycle where we interpret words and actions to fit this negative narrative. We then avoid investing in the relationship because we perceive it to be toxic, increasing our stress levels and dissatisfaction.
My daughter, Mara, recently had a job in which she rarely had any contact with her boss. For weeks, Mara felt underappreciated, isolated, and unimportant. When Mara finally shared her concerns with her boss, the boss explained that they are stretched very thin. The boss didn’t focus on Mara because they new she was highly competent and didn’t need to be micromanaged!
Inner narratives are constructed by both leaders and followers, but it is the responsibility of leaders to challenge their own narratives and to provide evidence to others that helps others create positive narratives.
What story do you tell yourself about those you lead? What stories do those people tell themselves about you?
Here’s a challenge for you. Identify someone whom you hold a negative view of. Invest a few minutes each day with the person (virtually is okay). Work to understand them. Reassess the situation at the end of the week.
If you are concerned about what they will think, be up front and say “I’m involved in some professional development and this week I’ve been asked to invest time in someone who I haven’t interacted with enough, so I chose you. Is that okay?” Once you have their permission, the daily contacts will be easy. If you aren’t sure what to say, let the 5-minute coaching questions guide you.
Do good and be well,