What’s Your Next Move? Your Team Plays Anticipatory Chess

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What do you think these 10 statements and questions represent?


1) Formal discipline and public acknowledgements: how often you give either and as a regular of what types of triggers?

2) Who is rewarded and how they are rewarded: can they clearly see the behaviors you want more of or do they perceive inconsistent rewards, which will bring up concerns about favoritism?  

3) Your body language and tone of voice: is there consistency between what you say, how you sound, and what you do (this is bellwether for  trustworthiness)? 

4) The behaviors you are silent about or ignore: does your silence mean that you don’t care,  that certain things are low on your priority list at certain times, or that you’re passive-aggressive?

5) Who your friends are (they study (and google) your friends): what do you all have in common that might give your team clues about what you are likely to think, say, or do? 

6) How you manage amid conflict and disagreement: does it make you visibly uncomfortable? If so, how does that discomfort look on you? Do you gain agreement by being heavy-handed? Do you let others speak freely (albeit respectfully)?

7) Transparency: are you willing to explain why you want them to do something? Do you help your team connect the dots? Do they have to rely on backdoor channels to have an idea about what’s going on?

8) Communication: do you help them see how their work contributes to the overall vision of the organization? Do you speak to the team’s SWOT concerns?

9) Vision: does the clarity and substance of your vision and goals tell them how much you care about the mission of the organization and them? By the same token, when your only plan is implementing what your boss tells you to implement, you are viewed as passive and detached. 

10) Accountability: does our team achieve the goals it sets? Do we do our parts collectively and individually? Do we discuss what went well and what didn’t? Do we celebrate our successes?  


Aside from competency, these are the top 10 characteristics that direct reports and colleagues use to assess your reputation. Your people regularly study you so they can decide what they are going to do. This includes all of the people with whom you work, whether you are their supervisor or not. While we could call what you do on a regular basis your leadership style, let’s call it your personal leadership culture instead. Culture is simply what a group of people does on a regular basis and how they share meaning and value based on their relationships to one another. While both managers and leaders impact culture, the team adjusts its behavior based on its perceptions of the leader. 


How do you think your team perceives you? Most employees judge the effectiveness of the boss and team based on the the regular behaviors, contradictions, and accountability practices they observe. People need predictability so that they have the mental capacity for engagement. First, predictability relaxes the constant environmental scanning that gives rise to fight or flight. People continuously look for signs of lost safety as well as signs that they remain in good standing. Human beings are hard-wired for self-preservation; thus, as long as there are questions in a person’s mind about their status or safety, their ability to focus on anything else is compromised. 


Take a look at the image: it represents what is called the Johari window, which is a self-awareness tool. The objective is to help people think about how they perceive themselves, how others perceive them, and how necessary it is to build strong relationships so that they  you can learn how they come across to others despite their intent and get the opportunity to know what’s in their blindspot. 


The right column focuses on pointing out that all of us have blind spaces. The upper right quadrant represents your blind spaces that you are unaware of that others see clearly. The lower right quadrant represents those parts of who we are that influence our behavior without our active knowledge. Typically, we don’t explore these blind spaces until we encounter our own unexplainable behaviors. For example, have you ever behaved in a manner that surprised you and could not identify a specific or apparent trigger for your behavior? Alternatively, have you ever realized that you have been treating one person (a teammate or even one of your children or siblings) differently, and you don’t know why? 


On the other hand, the lower left quadrant is the part of yourself that you hide from others (or try to minimize). Essentially, it’s the part of you that you don’t feel comfortable with others knowing. Another term for this is “covering”. Covering is the idea that people “cover up” the parts of themselves that they believe are likely to be rejected by a specific group culture. Finally, the upper left quadrant are the elements about you that you have owned and are not surprised that other people know (your public face). 


As you think about the various facets of self-awareness and your personal leadership culture, have you considered how the blindspots impact your ability to get reliable feedback and information, which ultimately impacts the overall performance goals for which you are responsible?

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