There are problems, then there are solutions. I know that’s really “deep,” but bear with me. Problems, crises, and challenges are inevitable in business, in life, and most notably in team dynamics. There are many consultants and experts out there talking about team building, motivation, performance, and communications. There is a really good reason for that. People and organizations are still challenged with it. The “problem” is that it keeps many a business owner, manager, executive, and parent up at night trying to figure out the solutions. The first thing that should be determined is to avoid being part of the problem!
I’ve been involved in politics (school board), non-profits (Rotary), business (both as employee and consultant), and sports (coaching). My wife thinks I’m some sort of a demented crisis seeker, and she might be right. I’ve seen problems coming a mile away and I’ve also seen them sneak up on you. People deal with conflict differently. Some are wired for it, and some just aren’t capable of managing it well. What we are all able to do is be a part of the solution to overcoming issues, rather than being the gasoline that’s poured on the fire. Here are my 7 Signs That You’re Part of the Problem for you to do a little self-assessment. If you don’t resemble any of the signs, keep up the good work and be on guard for those that do. If you see yourself in some of these, then make changes. To be candid, we all can slip into these areas at times. The key is to recognize, be in the moment, be humble, and be nimble enough to slide right back out.
(Note ~ These apply to everyone ~ leaders, managers, employees, coaches, parents, young adults, and community citizens. We are all capable of being a problem child.)
1. You are a perfectionist. Perfectionists tend to micro-manage, over think, and dwell on the negative. Life is about success, not perfection. The people who claim that “practice makes perfect” are misinformed. If you’re “practicing” the wrong thing, it just makes you worse faster. Stop trying to be perfect and focus on improvement.
2. You have an agenda. If you have a dog in the hunt, then you often are too biased and can tend to focus on your outcomes, rather than the good for all. You may have to recuse yourself, or find a way to become more objective. The problem is you, not everyone else.
3. You seek power. Maybe the ultimate problem creator of all time. We see this run rampant in politics and organizations. Climbing the corporate ladder, seeking out leadership roles in associations and unions, and moving up the government chain of command are just a few examples. Whether you’re goal is CEO or Governor, you’d better be doing it to serve others or the power bug will grab you and not let go.
4. You talk to be heard, not to influence. This is the proverbial “squeaky wheel.” I’ve run into many people that feel being negative, being annoying, and being loud equals influence. Actually, it’s really more of a power play. Being contrarian is fine; being obnoxious isn’t. If people are rolling their eyes when you get up to speak, then you might get the signal that you aren’t being successful in solution finding.
5. The Chicken Little Syndrome. Negativity is a burden to everyone. I’m convinced there are people out there who thrive in creating a countenance of gloom, regardless of the situation. This is the classic victim mentality. It’s always someone else’s fault; someone else’s responsibility. People are influenced more by those that are positive, upbeat, happy, and seeking solutions. If you’re in any type of leadership position, the latter position is where you need to live.
6. It’s not me, it’s you. If you find yourself offering unsolicited advice on trying to “improve” someone, that’s a sign. If you resort to passive-aggressive behavior and language, imply incompetence, use bad language, call people names, or exhibit a “holier than thou” image with peers, then that’s a sign. When working with a team for a common goal, there is no room for bullies.
7. You publicly embarrass people. When I coached basketball, I could get pretty upset in practice and call players out when they weren’t working hard or hurting the team with their actions. I would never publicly embarrass them during a game, though. Calling out someone in public is never appropriate. If you find yourself doing that, take a good hard look at your motives. People who resort to labeling and name-calling in public usually have an ulterior motive. And, it generally says more about them, rather than the person they are calling out.
Make no mistake, I am all for being contrarian, holding people accountable, and asking hard questions. These can all be done professionally and with the greater good in mind. When it’s not done in that way, then you are the problem. When it’s done in a manner to improve the condition of someone else (organization, business, clients, employees, members, etc), then you’re part of the solution.
Bottom line ~ You are either going to use your talent and skill for good (solution) or bad (problem). The common denominators for the problem side are negativity, power, control, and selfishness. The common denominators for the solution side are positive attitude, collaboration, responsibility, and accountability. Which side do you fall on?
Important Note ~ Do you own self-assessment as you wish. You also need to assess the people you employ, work with (including clients), collaborate with, and hang around. If they are the problems that can’t be rehabilitated or trained, dump the baggage. That light at the end of the tunnel may just be a truck coming your way. You have a responsibility to surround yourself with people that will make you better, not become a burden. Life is too short.
© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved