Team Leadership Can Flourish in an Upset — But Only if You Know How to Respond
Blast yourself and your team out of the excuse-mentality by treating every UPSET as an opportunity to learn how to improve your team building process. Trust me, if you learn how to respond to an upset, you’ll be able to turn a messed-up situation into a stronger relationship with your team members.
When things go wrong and we respond from an excuse-mentality, we get upset at someone or something. We blame, we get mad, or feel a need to get even. Sometimes we get mad at ourselves. Then, to be sure this behavior never happens again, we sometimes make up new rules.
For instance, we might say: “I’ll never again…
- …work for a male/female manager.”
- …trust my manager/subordinate.”
- …date a salesperson.”
- …have a business partner.”
- …start my own business.”
Unfortunately, the excuse-mentality never frees us. These responses bind us more tightly than ever to a dilemma.
It’s only when we operate from a responsibility-mentality that upsets can become opportunities for learning, team building, and escaping from dilemmas.
Think about it: when things don’t go well, taking responsibility is actually the best way to claim the full value of a negative experience. It’s only when we move from excuse-mentality to responsibility-mentality that we become ready to ask, “What can I learn from this?” Or, when we’re really brave, we might ask ourselves, “How did I create this?”
These are the questions that harvest team-building value from an upset. I know my biggest breakthroughs have come from my biggest messes and upsets. But the breakthroughs didn’t show up until after I owned the mess and determined how I contributed to creating it.
So, from where I stand, the fastest route to living a freer, happier, more fulfilled life is to adopt the Responsibility Mindset as soon as possible. When you are upset at a partner, no matter what s/he did wrong, you’ll reap the greatest team building value from the experience when you’re ready to look at how you contributed to the upset you’re feeling.
And it’s just a short step from there to see that the fastest way to build and maintain a learning team is to help all your teammates turn their upsets into team building opportunities to learn, too.
For practice, choose a current aspect of your life in which you’re upset at someone or something. Ask yourself how your own choices and actions actually created the upset. Stay with it until you completely get it. Doing this can be both humbling and immensely freeing.
Then watch to catch yourself feeling upset with a team member at work in the next few days. Examine your own choices and see what you can learn. Take responsibility and examine how you can change your behavior and strengthen the relationship. You may want to ask for a new agreement with your partner.
A Final Note
Don’t you wish the points in this article were grasped by everyone in your team? Then do yourself a favor and forward this article to anyone you know who would benefit from treating upsets as opportunities for learning and team building.
Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide. Build a responsible team (or family) and master your leadership skills with The Leadership Gift Program for Leaders.
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