Today’s blog will focus on behaviors that many leaders engage in that, without them even realizing it, shuts down diversity of thought within their teams and organizations. In other words, could you be unconsciously taking action that shuts down difficult conversations and strangles the best ideas before they even have the opportunity to be voiced?
This topic came up when I was talking to clients about their bosses, and that is where these behaviors commonly appear (it doesn’t always come through a boss, but most often does).
The impact of these behaviors is real. It deeply affects the internal space of all employees who experience it, and ultimately affects the company’s bottom line. And by the way, in the past week alone I have spoken with people are who dealing with every single one of these behavioral issues—they are common!
So let’s dive in and take a look at what they are, and how to turn them around.
You Always Speak First
You are so passionate about sharing your opinion that you forget to listen with the same level of passion.
This behavior shuts down people on your team and makes them think that their opinions don’t matter, even if you “asked” for their feedback. If you always speak first and dominate the conversation, especially if you are the leader of the team, you are likely shutting down opinions that differ greatly from your own.
How to turn it around: Listen with passion and intensity. Allow everyone else to speak first, and if you have an opinion, share it last (this will also prevent your employees from telling you only what they think you want to hear). Remember, you need people to contradict you, especially when making big decisions! Diversity of thought ultimately creates stronger products and solutions.
I worked with one CEO who talked a lot. I explained how frustrated his team was because he never shut his mouth long enough to allow them to participate in the meetings. When I told him the impact his behavior was having on his team, he was shocked. He hadn’t even noticed! He started bringing a notepad to the meeting with a handwritten note scrawled at the top, in big red letters: SHUT UP! He wrote it to remind himself to listen.
Pretty soon his team members started approaching me saying, “What did you do? You fixed him!” The team was thrilled. They had always loved him, but now they felt really good about participating in the meetings, and overall, the company was improved.
You Demonstrate “Bad Behavior”
For many of you who have attended my Insights Discovery workshop, you’ve heard this before. Bad behavior can sound like this:
“I’m red, so deal with it!”
(People with a lot of Red Energy have a preference for speaking directly,
moving fast and being competitive)
“I’m green, so there’s no way I’ll share my opinions.”
(People with Green Energy avoid conflict, prefer one-on-one
conversations, and want to know that others care about them personally)
Both of these examples are “bad behavior” because they are excuses for not taking responsibility for making things better.
How to turn it around: No matter your personality, all of us can take steps to improve our interpersonal relationships. Challenge yourself to step outside your lead color energy (or typical approach). The whole point of learning your colors is to create self-awareness so you can expand beyond your tendencies!
Now I’m not suggesting you change who you are; I’m suggesting you make a 10% shift in how you show up so that you can connect more effectively with the people around you.
You Have Already Made Up Your Mind
You show up to a staff meeting saying that you want everyone’s input… but it’s purely lip service. Internally, you’ve already made up your mind.
Sometimes this is okay. Not every decision you make needs to be a team effort.
But if your goal is to create a collaborative culture where all opinions are valued, respected and considered, your employees will see right through it and it will damage morale.
How to turn it around: Come with an open mind when discussing important topics that affect a lot of people. You MUST believe that your ideas are simply a starting point; and perhaps you won’t be able to implement everyone’s ideas, but at least they are on the table in a legitimate way!
The impact of these behaviors is real. When you show up as a leader ready to listen, consider and implement the best ideas, not only will your team respect you for it, but the outcome of your work will be much better.
Do you see any areas that you could improve? I’d love to hear about it!
Photo Source: The Hot Spots Blog