Una Doyle of Talent Dynamics lists the 3 common mistakes made by team leaders and explains the solutions that can stop them from happening
“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency.” Arnold H. Glasow
There’s no doubt that managers and business owners around the globe have all experienced fire fighting at one time or another. Some companies even have it built into the culture. Yet everybody seems to agree that fire fighting on a long-term basis is not a good thing…
So why does it happen?
Looking at the Talent Dynamics square it’s more likely that people with high Dynamo and Blaze energies will engage in fire fighting. For them it may initially seem to be exciting and fun. Dynamo’s for instance get to use their problem solving strengths and be a hero.
Blaze people will love the high-paced interactions with others and flying around here, there and everywhere getting everyone on board. For both Dynamo and Blaze it could even have been their lack of attention to detail that caused the fire in the first place!
However, that’s not to say that people with high Tempo and Steel energies may not fire fight too in the right, or should I say wrong, circumstances. It is likely to be incredibly stressful for them though to do so.
Tempo people may end up fire fighting because they can find it very hard to say no and consequently can easily take on too much. While this may appear to serve them – and their colleagues – in the short term, over time it is likely to cause burn-out and possibly even ill-health while they get bogged down in the detail.
Those with strong Steel energies will get very frustrated with constantly having to solve problems that they know could probably be systemised so that they don’t even occur in the first place. Under pressure, without time to think things through or adequate data to base decisions on, they could feel extremely uncomfortable and you may well get to experience just how cold Winter can be!
The key thing for everybody is to firstly realise that fire fighting is happening. The second is to get into the habit of identifying what kind of problem it is… Then they can get the person and/or team with the right perspective and strengths to solve it.
Dynamo’s will intuitively want to innovate their way out of problems, while Blaze will naturally think about who is the best person to connect with to get the desired result. Tempo will look at how to improve relationships and/or operations and Steel will consider the systems in place and what needs to be created or improved.
This means that people will need to let go of the idea that they, and only they, can rescue the day… The fact is that in business – as in life – things happen. There will always be problems to solve. At the same time the time and resources that can be saved by putting out the fire of fire fighting is immense.
Imagine if you and your team were able to spend time in your areas of strengths, instead of being pulled in all directions every time something happened? Though initially it would require investing some time, afterwards there would be the time and space to do what you do best. This allows you to add more value and leverage it effectively within your team and organisation for results on the bottom line and beyond.
Whether or not you are a romantic, this is a great opportunity to remind yourself to ‘spread the love’ in your business. Valentine’s Day is all about making new and/or deeper connections. How could you do this in your workplace? Look to build trust and demonstrate value and appreciation.
You might want to start with romancing yourself. When was the last time that you sat down and wrote down your accomplishments in the last year or few years? Large or small, get them all down and congratulate yourself for what you have achieved. Treat yourself with a special meal, a trip away or even a nice soak in the bath with a good book. It will be hard to make others feel special, if you don’t feel special yourself.
Make sure you are really clear about the value you offer to your team and customers. What Talent Dynamics profile are you? What profile is your typical customer? How do you help them get into flow? Think about ways you could increase the amount of time you get to spend working in your strengths to increase your value to the business – and have more fun.
If you are working in a team then make sure to thank each and every team member for their contribution. Write them a note of what you value most in them and their work. Not only will it give them a warm fuzzy feeling, they’ll likely do more of whatever you wrote and improve their performance. Just use a plain card or one with a picture on it, rather than an actual Valentine’s card – you don’t want your staff to think you have romantic attachments!
If you are in a smaller organisation, do the same with your suppliers as they are your team too. What do they do that enables you to focus on your strengths and have a stronger and more sustainable business?
When it comes to customers, what could you do to make them feel special? Make sure it’s not just a discounted offer but something free that’s genuinely of value. It doesn’t have to be a product or something that costs you. It could simply be a list of useful resources or an e-guide on a hot topic.
Highlight your top customers and send them a Valentine’s card explaining what you appreciate about them as a customer – perhaps how they are great to deal with, or even what they do for their customers that you think is wonderful. This applies just the same to internal customers.
With everybody, make sure to consider their Talent Dynamics profile or energy (Dynamo, Blaze, Tempo or Steel) and how they may prefer to receive this appreciation. Some would love for you to talk with them face-to-face or on the phone, others would prefer to see what you say in writing and could be embarrassed if in person.
In order to thank others, you’ll first need to truly consider their strengths and weaknesses and how these show up in performance. Are they in flow? What difference is each individual really making to business performance? How do they make your life, your team’s or your customers’ lives that bit easier?
This clarity on who delivers what kind of value and communication around it can deepen your connection with those that you work with because it builds trust.
This trust is vital In order to stand out in your marketplace. A sustainable career and business depends upon effective collaboration over the long term, whether a solopreneur or part of a multinational corporate.
The special bonus is that you get to feel good by making others feel good. Go on – make their day!
I answered at the time with these three main reasons why people may procrastinate:
1. An inner knowing that it isn’t the right time to do that.
2. Self-sabotage due to emotional baggage of some sort around things like ‘not deserving’ and/or ’fear of success/failure’ (all way more common than you think by the way!). Be aware that this can fool people into thinking that it’s not the right time.
3. The activity is something that’s not your natural strength and so you don’t enjoy it and it takes you out of your flow.
While I believe these three points apply to many, afterwards I started thinking about the third point and how procrastination might differ around the Talent Dynamics Square.
With the highly creative Dynamo energy profiles (Creator, Mechanic and Star), their problem is usually not starting things but finishing them! In fact, because they tend to underestimate how long things take to do, they have a tendency to over-commit and just not have enough time to get something done.
Of course those with high Dynamo energy also can get easily distracted by doing the ‘new and fun’ stuff, so that they move from activity to activity without really getting much done. Even though they hate having their freedom constrained, working to a plan – even if a loose one – and learning to delegate will help them spend more time in their flow in the end. When Dynamos get focused on their priorities they can achieve great things.
Those with high Blaze energy (Supporter, Star and Deal Maker) love variety and hate paperwork – they’d much rather be having an interesting conversation with one of their many friends!
A great idea for them to overcome procrastination is to set aside time early in the week and/or early in the day to get this done while their energy is strong. Leaving it until the end of the week is not a good idea as they’re much more likely to want to go to a party or networking event instead.
The more grounded Tempo energy folks (Trader, Deal Maker and Accumulator) are actually very good with planning their activities and anticipating how long things will take, in fact they are likely to overestimate how long things will take. Where they may procrastinate is at the beginning of a new project.
For a start it is new and it’s not always so easy for them to get something off the ground as those with primary Creator and Star profiles. What really helps here is firstly to ensure that they understand the context within which the project or activity is taking place. That helps those with high Tempo energy to feel more comfortable and this comfort is important for them to work well.
Secondly, breaking up a big idea or project down into the specific tasks and deadlines before they start helps them to see in enough detail what needs to be done and they can satisfy themselves that it is achievable. Just be careful they don’t get too bogged down in the detail to even begin.
Finally what about those with high Steel (Lord, Accumulator and Mechanic profiles) energy? Well they really shine when they have something already existing to work with so starting something new can be even more challenging than for Tempo profiles!
Here though, what will probably help the most in overcoming procrastination is to focus on what they can get finished first and get those activities out of the way and out of sight – they love a clear workspace! Because getting things finished feels so good to those with strong Steel energy this motivates them to keep going. Breaking down larger projects into very small chunks that can be ticked off a list helps to avoid overwhelm too.Of course, everyone can step into the Spirit energy to remind them of the purpose of what they are doing. What is the big ‘Why?’ that makes doing something worthwhile in the first place?
This really helps for those times that you might just need to suck it up and get something done.
Remember though, where possible, let others do the things that take you out of flow. After all, it’s only by helping someone else get into their flow can you really get in yours…
Some people think that acceptance is a weakness. To get where you want to go, to be successful means that you must fight for what is yours, pull out all the stops and be all gung ho! Doesn’t it? Maybe. Some of the time. However:
“When you fight with what is, you only loose 100% of the time…”
I know when I first came across this saying it took me a few times to really get it.
For instance, because of changes in technology such as digital photography, bigger bandwidth and the increasing use of mobile devices, the patterns of media consumption have and continue to change dramatically. Anyone in the creative industries that is ignoring this does so at their peril.
Think about H.M. Warner who said in 1927, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” Seems a pretty dumb thing to say now, eh?
Yet changes like this could be happening in your industry or profession and the pace of change is much faster now than in 1927…
So being in denial is not going to get you anywhere. Hoping things will be different may feel good as you dream about how things could be “if, but, maybe” things changed. However,
“Hope is not a course of action.”
Acceptance is not self-defeat
I’m not talking about giving up on what you want either. The next time you hear yourself or somebody else moaning, listen intently to what they are really saying. Is it “I don’t like XYZ fact”, or “there’s nothing I can do about XYZ fact”?
There’s nothing wrong with not liking something, as long as it doesn’t stop you from exploring what the true implications are and what to do as a result.
Get a team together who have different skills, experiences and perspectives from you, to help you overcome a challenge and watch magic happen.
One of the things that I love about Talent Dynamics is that it really helps to increase acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves as well as others.
That is incredible because so much heartache and pain happens in the workplace and in life all around the world because of a lack of acceptance. Remember,
“Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”
George Bernard Shaw
Who do you know that is trying to be something that they’re not and will always find it a challenge to be?
For instance, someone with a Creator profile is going to struggle to be a great project manager if the main focus of that work is detailed planning and scheduling. This is what Accumulators and Traders find simple. However if the role’s key accountability is coming up with great strategies for the project then that’s a different story.
Delivering value builds trust and it’s pretty hard to deliver excellent value when you’re not working in your area of natural strengths. If you want people to give you interesting work then they need to trust you can deliver. If you want to have great clients then they need to trust that you can deliver.
You want a team around you that you trust to deliver. Begin by accepting who people truly are and helping them to work on tasks that are within their natural strengths.
As you may well be aware, the more somebody accepts themselves for who they are the more likely they are to be open to their weak spots. This means they don’t always have to be perfect allowing them to be vulnerable at times so they can open up and listen to others ideas and – imagine this – even ask others for help!
If you want true collaboration and team effectiveness you won’t get it with a bunch of know-it-alls that’s for sure.
Do remember though, that any strength overdone becomes a weakness… As we often say within the Talent Dynamics community “your profile is not an excuse for inexcusable behaviour”.
Make sure that you don’t mirror the “Oh, that’s just me!” blind refusal to grow, you may sometimes come across… Let’s face it, personal growth and emotional intelligence are not related to any particular Talent Dynamics profiles – we all have the opportunity to grow… or not as we choose.
Accepting the facts of a situation helps you deal with them in the most effective way possible. Accepting yourself allows you to develop and grow those parts of you that you do have the power to change. Accepting others, well in addition to building trust it will increase the levels of peace in the world. A timely thought for the holiday season…
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