Are you an example?

Posted on feb 21, 2017 in Continu Verbeteren, English

Are you an exampleSo in a matter of two posts you went from being a perfectly happy manager, to continuous improvement coach to sportcoach. What happened!? Well, it is time to put your money where your mouth is if you truly want to be a manager. Or is team leader a better word? It does sound and feel more inclusive, more as being part of the team. Don’t you think?

Being a team leader comes with quite some responsibilities. The most crucial one is probably that you are aware that your actions have a direct impact on your team. For better and for worse. Usually it is referred to as example behaviour and it might just be one of the most misunderstood management concepts. Look around you and make a list of those people that actually do as they say. Who are actually showing behaviour that is aligned with their believes and values? Despite how difficult that can be.

It is one of the most powerful ways of learning. Just look at kids. They copy everything you do! Especially when you don’t want them to copy it. Remember when one of your parents said “don’t do that” and then went ahead and did it hem/herself? If you are a parent yourself, remember when you said that and then did it yourself? What happened? Children look to the people around them to learn. And it is no different for grown ups in the workplace. We look around us to learn “how things are done around here”.

The tricky bit is that this is a mostly subconscious process. You don’t go around to look at the behaviour of all your colleagues for ten minutes each. That would be weird. No, it happens while you go around being busy with your own stuff. It happens when you ask someone a question and a reply never comes (message: you’re not important to me). It happens when you aren’t greeted by the director that just came in, but your manager right next to you is (message: I only talk to people at my own level). It happens when your manager gives you a highly important assignment and is not willing to give you time or resources for it (message: I need to be able to tell someone we’re working on it, but I actually don’t really care).

All the messages in brackets are what might happen in your heart. You feel something’s not right. You feel that the intention doesn’t match the behaviour. And not before long you will adapt your behaviour to “how things are done around here”. A simple coping mechanism. You want to fit in, you want to be successful. You’re human after all. And it will be much the same for your colleagues. There is no point in starting a blaming game.

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