It’s Monday morning and you arrive at your first meeting, in your grey, black or blue suit, laptop and notepad in hand, ready to do business. You take a deep breath, shoulders back and get ready for business. Your mind briefly drifts to your weekend, when you were at the children’s sports activity, nervous for them or championing them. Or perhaps you met friends for dinner, relaxed and giggling, completely at ease. Or maybe you were doing the household chores, with music blasting and singing a 1980’s ballad. You catch yourself smiling, and compose yourself again, wiping that smile off your face.
Who is this person you are taking to the meeting?
Doing business or going to work seems to do something very strange to us, we seem to become someone else. In fact, we seem to morph into a “brand” of ourselves, and mirror the behaviour of the most senior person in the room. In fact, as you look around you see lots of “work” clones, all behaving in a similar way. You may even find you speak the same, using the same buzz words or phrases.
So you get into that meeting, ready to get some real progress made, with most (not all) of your colleagues also acting as their “work” selves. You notice that the ideas aren’t flowing, everyone is trying to dodge bullets, perhaps deflect accountability by producing a fabulous story, told in this strange “work” language that no-on really understands. Then you leave, confused as to what was really achieved or agreed.
You continue to be the “work” you, essentially acting, for the rest of the day, with lots of other “work” people, who are also acting. For 8 hours you have been wearing the work clothes, walking in the work way, speaking the work language, adjusting your thoughts back into work thoughts, until it is time to go home.
Oh but now you have to try to remember how to be the real you again, to smile, to laugh, to love, to be passionate, to sing, to dance. Your brain is still trying yo unpick what has happened that day, how you came across, wondering did you say the right thing at the right time?????? There is a niggling feeling that your work you has somehow compromised a little part of the real you? In fact, you start wondering if you even like this “work” you at all? Is it really possible to return back to yourself again? Perhaps all you need is a payphone box like superman.
Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier, more effective and high performing if we spent our energy in doing the work we were hired for, rather than pretending to be a certain kind of work person.
What if we all dropped the act and could be ourselves?
What if we could trust our colleagues to accept us for being honest. What if we could speak up in a meeting and say, “I don’t get it”, “I don’t understand”, “I am struggling to meet that deadline”. I know that being honest would stop the dancing around, the pretending and you could have some really impactful meetings.
What if you were able to openly challenge each other, rather than filter all of your thoughts in self-preservation of the ego? If someone comes up with a proposal that you don’t understand, or don’t agree with, how about telling them? I am sure you aren’t the only one. What if you weren’t the guy who just nods in agreement when really you want to say “This is nuts”? What if you saw a presentation and shared that you didn’t believe the timelines, data or budget? What if you openly said that you were frustrated because this meeting is going nowhere? Would you open up an honest debate?
Bringing the Five Behaviors of a cohesive team into your organisation will start the shift.
It may feel scary because it is so far removed from how your work culture is, but believe me, all it takes is for 1 person to start behaving as a real person, to change a culture. And that 1 person is the leader.
Now even for a leader, shifting from ego to authentic, takes courage. Yet I believe it is the one single shift that will have the most profound impact on performance of your organisation. A fake leader, leading fake followers will never be successful because they will always be given fake answers. In a fake world, you are never really connecting with your Peoples real thoughts, feelings and motivations – just think of the emperors new clothes.
For me information on how the Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviours can help your organisation to perform click here