In the VIP Coach dictionary, “Delegating” is defined as “developing someone else until they’re ready to take the responsibility you expect and do it such that you’re confident in their competency to get it done”. Handing someone the authority who isn’t ready and/or willing makes you cringe at delegating. In my coaching encounters I’m constantly discussing ways for leaders to get the most out of their people, so they feel ultra-confidence, inspired and amazed by the way their team takes ownership and solves challenges.
One of the blind-spots in developing your team is how you look at employees in general. Are they family? Friends? Enemies? Hired hands? Each of these mental constructs gives rise to how you interact with them. If you see something you admire in others, the potential they can have can astound you. And that is what I’m suggesting: To see employees as lifelong allies and select and hire based on qualities and accomplishments that you admire.
Why Should You See Your Employees This Way?
Seeing the greatness in others is perhaps the best way to fend off your team from leaving your organization. Self-knowledge cannot come by itself, alone, on an island. We participate in the way others define themselves.
Back in the late 60’s a study was done by schools to see if teacher’s perceptions and expectations of kids had an impact on their behavior. It was proven without variation that if a teacher see’s the gifts in their children and expect them to use it with high hopes, the kids show up more readily to use it. Kids learned to trust themselves and trust the teacher when expectations were higher of them.
In fact, you might not register just how impactful your view of your team mates is until now. If your judgment is composed of how others are out to get you, or they have an agenda, be aware of your thinking. When you house your voice of judgment in what you construe to be true, you help make it true. This is because when you have reasons to think the other isn’t trustworthy, the blind spot is that 1) the thought originated from you, not them, and 2) you with-hold resources and hold back because of it.
Let’s Look at an Example
Recently, a manager was stumped by people leaving his organization. The pattern was perpetuating a vicious cycle. The blind spot was that at first the manager didn’t see his own perception. And yet, originally the manager had a negative assumption at play that went live. Taking an assumption live has four parts: The governing assumption, the strategy or emotion, the behavior or action, and the consequence or end result. What the manager was looking at was the behavior. He felt violated when the employee was interviewing with another company, so he cut the employee off clean, and fired him on the spot for being a “flirt.”
When I mentioned to him that about 30% of his team were probably tipi-toers, he was even more nervous. According to his principles, people who leave are enemies. Like an affair, lack of loyalty was in violation to his principles. Of course people leaving and jumping isn’t on the wishlist of most leaders, but people do quietly consider if something is better, not because they’re bad people, but because it’s human nature to be curious. Early on in his career, the leader erected a pre-emptive strike on the threat. He made a contract with his fear that he wouldn’t ever be duped, cheated against, ever again. So he made every attempt to be less vulnerable, and held back resources, training, spending, development to avoid the ending because it fell in on him. He held a view of definite all-or-nothing thinking and continued to prevent the situation.
What he couldn’t see at first was that the problem started with him, not the other. His fear had led him to hold back employees from resources such that they didn’t feel important, recognized or developed. This made them susceptible to leaders who believed in their goodness and looked to level up their potential. The leader in my coaching was actually helping the problem happen by trying to avoid it from happening in the first place. The fix became a backfire instead of dealing with the fundamental problem. People at the most basic fundamental level do great work when they are understood, feel important and valued, and therefore feel safe to be themselves. You have these three, you win. If they are capable, and have the skills, these other aspects compose the will and ability needed for great work.
The Power of Perception
Perception is a generative process. If you see others as lifelong allies, your perception will shape an outcome. If you see their basic goodness, they will respond to how you see. If you see others as enemies, your behavior will shape an outcome. Mindfulness is being aware of your habituated thinking, such that you see the larger system in which your perception is enacting certain consequences that you probably don’t want, no anybody else.
We must remember as leaders that having a past behind us presents us with a history of accumulated knowledge that becomes out-dated when we forget we see through models of the world and edit from our database. Yet we can learn through reflection skills and humble inquiry how to see, and see accurately by suspending our certainties and see with fresh eyes again. When we shift how we see, what we see changes. Seeing the miraculous isn’t about seeing new things, it’s seeing new things in the ordinary that our biases missed before now.