410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

Don't miss this cartoon...

Don't miss this cartoon...

September 22, 2011

We're all blind. Not literally, but figuratively. We don't see what's really going on around us.

It's true for every one of us. And it's especially true for me and you as leaders of businesses. This cartoon really says it all'

Hopefully, you're like not as blind as the guy in the cartoon but the message is loud and clear ' and he's still missing it! I love it because it's so true! I see it all the time when I'm working with our clients and I'm embarrassed to say, myself too.

Every time I think I have my act together one of our team members holds a mirror up to my actions and shows me what it's like being on the other side of my comments. It ain't pretty.

Typically, clients are frustrated because things aren't getting done or they aren't progressing fast enough, when the real problem is really staring right back at them in the mirror.

I'm as guilty as anybody. We all are.

That's why I'm excited to share with you our most powerful ideas that will help you take the blinders off and see things for what they really are. From my experience, companies that do this outperform their competitors by up to 3:1.

Take, for example, someone I know whom I'll call Frank..

You see Frank had a bad temper and never realized it. For him, that's the way his father did things, and that's the way he grew up. Yelling and screaming was how they got things done, so he never thought anything of it.

In his mind, everything was working fine. But when he and his team came into our office to grow their company he was in for a real eye-opener. Finally, in an environment where everyone could honestly communicate, Frank realized that his team was not functioning well.

Are you the "go-to expert" or the bottleneck?

A similar situation happened with another friend whom I'll call Stephen. He had become so controlling in his organization that nothing happened unless he was involved in the decision. As a result, he had become a bottleneck.

He was frustrated because nothing was getting done. His management team was frustrated waiting on him. Everything was waiting on him for approval. And in the meantime, nothing was getting done!

But Stephen always looked at everybody around him and complained about them.

Maybe you are like him. You know more than anybody, you're super talented, fast, and able handle things better than everyone else. Your strength in being good at many things actually becomes your greatest weakness!

When he drew out his organizational chart it was not what you should expect to see with him on top and others under him, instead it looked like a bloody bicycle wheel, with spokes radiating from the center -- and he was right at the center! He was working harder than everybody and hating life. (The good news was in about a year he became essentially free from his business.).

'I'm going to burn out, have a heart attack, probably be broke and divorced.'

Another person I'm connected to whom we'll call Gordon had very similar issues. He didn't trust his team to do the work he needed done in his landscaping business. He was always the first to arrive and last to leave because he was either doing or un-doing the work his team was supposed to be doing!

Meanwhile, his wife was furious that he kept coming home later and later and he no time for his family. When I asked him what his inevitable future looked like if he didn't make a change guess what he said? 'I'm going to burn out, have a heart attack, probably be broke and divorced.' Whoa. Can you smell the smoke coming from this fire?

For many business owners, they see this as a normal day. That's crazy! These are actually typical dysfunctional teams but the business owner either doesn't see it or doesn't know how to change it. Sometimes people reject the idea that they have a dysfunction in their own team. Get over it. Every team is dysfunctional at some level.

The only question is whether you recognize it or not and what are you going to do about it.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team -- see if one of these sound familiar...

Patrick Lencioni describes it really well in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. But wait, before you read any further. Can you figure out what are the biggest dysfunctions that you are probably experiencing in your team?

Stop now. Think about it for a minute then read his five dysfunctions''''''''''''''.

1. Absence of trust'unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
2. Fear of conflict'seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
3. Lack of commitment'feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
4. Avoidance of accountability'ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior sets low standards
5. Inattention to results'focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success Any of those sound familiar?

Truth be told, there's usually at least one of those 5 elements at work in just about any team. What's the solution? First, you have to have an open, honest conversation with your team about the problems you're experiencing.

Then, you have to make a commitment to make the changes needed. Sounds easy, but it's not. Just having the conversation about the problems you're experiencing can be a HUGE challenge.

At Brand Launcher we work very hard among our own team and with our clients to create a 'safe space' for everyone on a team to share their feelings and their frustrations. I've even seen grown men cry in these discussions. Why? Because they feel 'safe' enough to open themselves up and be vulnerable. Okay, I know that sounds like too much for you. Maybe someday you'll understand how it can actually be deep and moving.

The key to making the conversation work is to risk being vulnerable and understand that your perception of a situation shapes your reality. For example, if a project didn't get completed on time you may immediately jump to a judgment and conclude, 'As a manager you don't really care about this project or me!' As a result, you feel hurt. And the solution you want is that you would like to see the project become a higher priority.

But that's only your reality. The manager on the other hand may feel that you didn't give him the help he needed to get the job done on time and conclude that it must not be a priority. As a result, the manager feels his work isn't as important and also feels hurt.

The solution he would like to see is more staffing to help get the work done. Same situation; two very different perceptions of what's real. Our truth is not necessarily real.

Separate out 1. The facts. 2. Your judgment (your opinion) 3. Your feeling 4. Your 'truth'.

Let me make this real for you. When I was younger I often worked late and came home late. I would call my wife and say, 'I'm on the way home.' But then I did 'just one more thing' and before you know it 45 minutes passed. Oh no. Add that to the 30 minute drive home and I'm in trouble. I walk in and she says to me, 'You care more about your work than your family!' Ouch.

Let's break it down:

The fact: I was late...
1. The Judgment: I care more about work than family
2. The feeling: She's hurt and angry
3. The seeming 'truth' was I'm a jerk who doesn't love his family.

When you learn to separate the facts from your opinion your whole relationship changes. The good news is that because of good dialogue I cleaned up my act years ago. I love my wife and family and am grateful we worked this out. (Plus now my office is only 8 minutes away ;-)

Understand your so-called truth is based on your perception and your feelings. As you do, you'll see that we often create meaning out of something that may not even be there.

Get a FREE Assessment right now and test yourself

Frank, Stephen and Gordon along with their teams discovered this too. It wasn't always pretty. People got upset. They got angry. They cried. Some even storm out so they could cool off. But those dysfunctional teams are all highly functional teams now as a result of doing this work.

We are fortunate to have helped many teams see their blind spots. Like a rearview mirror, we often can't see our blind spots. Make sure you get someone who can help you see yours for what they really are. But it will only work if you can have those conversations in a safe space where everything is put on the table and there are no hidden agendas. In our meetings we often say, 'What's said here, stays here.' That's the only way you'll be able to really see things for what they are.

For a very effective tool to see if your team is suffering from any of the 5 dysfunctions of a team ' and to learn what you can do about it ' GO HERE and we'll be glad to send it to you. And if you need help working through it with your team, we'll be glad to lend a hand.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President