I began to wonder how the group participants would identify “good” or effective leadership. From the discussion, I was able to conclude that the participants expect leaders to be able to communicate a clear direction for where the organization is headed and how their individual responsibilities or positions fit into that direction. There was also an expectation that leaders were present when needed, but not overwhelming (controlling) or micro-managing.
Again as I reflect upon the conversations about trust, it becomes very apparent that trust is not something to be taken lightly or that is easily created. However, it is something that is critical to relationships and easily destroyed. Is it any wonder that individuals find it difficult to trust others, to be real and authentic in all they attempt to do in life?
With over four decades of attending thousands of meetings, I’m convinced there are a few individuals who know how to conduct a meeting and then there are the rest of us. I am even further amazed at the number of meetings and the hours spent in those meetings that are not that productive. It would appear to me that if we wanted to improve productivity and better use of our time, both at work and outside of work, we would provide educational opportunities for people to gain the skills of conducting productive meetings.
So I asked the participants to provide me with some examples of issues or concerns that they have working with employees or co-workers. As I reviewed those examples, I am again reminded of how important people skills are to a leader and just how uncomfortable some leaders are with these skills.
In another example, the group may be avoiding a specific topic or issue by constantly making jokes or telling stories about similar or unrelated issues. The facilitator might ask the group what they are avoiding. Or the facilitator might share with the group the inference the facilitator is making about their avoidance of the undiscussable issue and check with the group for agreement or disagree with the inference.
As I heard comments from the individuals in the group discussion, I became aware of how much we as humans make decisions with lack of information or because we are coerced into siding with another person we like a lot or don’t want to go up against. I observed an individual who was wavering in the decision until another group member made it clear that those who saw things differently were not “playing with a full deck”. My observation left me believing that the final decision of the group was less than acceptable by everyone, even though everyone voiced an agreement.
In the course of having this conversation, the supervisor and employee could utilize the strategies to avoid any ambiguity about what is expected or decided. If the employee is uncertain about what the supervisor is requesting, the employee is likely to make assumptions and infer the desired outcome. If these assumptions and inferences are not tested for accuracy, the end result may be that the employee fails to meet the supervisor’s expectations, thus adding to the confusion about the employee’s role.
By actually studying (and I’m constantly learning how important these values are to the group process) and applying these values to the groups with which I interact, I have discovered that some leaders misunderstand group process and facilitation. For them the group process is to get compliance to their predetermined idea or outcome. They know they should have group discussion, but they don’t expect that discussion to result in any anything different than what they have already decided.
As I reflect upon these experiences, I can identify time and again where I wish I had said something or done something different. Of course I can easily identify a number of reasons for these shortcomings; I didn’t have the time to focus on the situation, I needed to look good and provide the answer, I was intimidated by people in positions of power, etc. The excuses and rationale can go on endlessly.
The one factor that I believe to be the single most influential factor about these leaders is that they were first and foremost human beings trying to do the best job they knew how without creating any more damage or pain to others than was necessary. And when they did create that damage or pain, because it was needed or unintentionally, it was done with compassion and humility.