Three choices we can make to create healthier tribes at work
This month on my social media platforms, I will be talking about the different types of group tribes that we belong to. For this blog post, I want to delve deeper into some of the dynamics in our professional tribes, specifically the work tribe. As I sat down to write, I want to be frank; I was a little frustrated. You see, there were five of them, not one, not two, but five. Five hurt, disappointed, angry leaders and team members who had either walked away, were about to walk away, worn down, churning in the situation, or were on the verge of giving up.
Every day worldwide, millions of people wake up and head to work. People often become part of a work tribe out of necessity. Someone has to pay bills and put food on the table. In contrast, some enjoy the thrill of competition, the rush that comes from hitting targets and achieving results. Perhaps, they love the idea of making a difference in their community or solving some big world problem. For others, they enjoy the dynamic environment, which provides an opportunity to learn or teach. Whatever the reason, millions most of us wake up day in and day out and clock in or log in to deliver results for their organization.
While we rarely have the opportunity to choose the exact people we work with every day, we apply for our jobs and choose the place. The place where we spend the majority of our waking hours. That choice plays a huge role in our overall health and happiness. When we are connected and supported, we thrive. When we are isolated and rejected, we suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically.
So there I was, five leaders & employees, five different stories, and it was a mess. I was not surprised because, as a former HR Executive and now coach, I know that where there are people, there are going to be complications, and we are naive if we expect anything else. However, in each scenario, a similar theme ran through. A person or political power base within the group or organization was wreaking havoc on emotions, productivity, and results.
In each case, I asked, "Are you prepared to speak up? Are you ready to push back on the status quo" In all cases other than one, the answer was no. As I mentally calculated the downstream effect of their silence, my heart ached for the thousands of people impacted because their voice was muted out of exhaustion, fear, or preservation.
So that's the context & background, and now for the challenge. Whether you have the responsibility for managing people or not, I believe that we can all be leaders. If you have chosen or find yourself in a seat (i.e., place of work), why not make a difference while you sit in the seat? Here are three choices we can make to create to enjoy healthier work tribes.
Perhaps, you are a talented technician in your field. Your exceptional results fast-tracked you to a more senior role or leadership position, and you said yes, or maybe you are still junior and navigating your way. You are confronted with a complex people issue, and you have never been provided with the training that you need to achieve a positive outcome. Day after day, you struggle to show up as the people or individual leader you feel called to be.
Your choice - stop waiting for someone to give you a handout. Push for training or find it by any means necessary. Perhaps there is a course online or you can get advice from a trusted mentor or coach. With better people skills, you will not only feel more confident and reduce your stress but also create a better work experience for yourself and those around you.
Perhaps you are a good leader. Your results are positive, and you get along with your team, but you hate conflict. So day after day, you put off conversations with your boss, team, or colleagues because it's complicated, and you don't want to make it worse.
Your Choice - Do whatever it takes to get the support to help you navigate the situation. Call HR, find a coach, read a book, take a course, and find a support network. When you stay silent, you banish yourself and those you work with to reduced productivity and mental and emotional exhaustion again and again with no relief.
Last but not least, maybe you are the power broker creating the conflict. I am not sure why you cause the conflict. Perhaps you believe in excellence, and the work you see all around you is substandard. Maybe you want significance, or perhaps you are insecure. Or possibly, you have been charged to raise the bar.
Your choice - I challenge you to think bigger than your standards and figure out how you can be more inclusive and inspiring to those around you. You will never be able to do it all on your own. What questions can you ask yourself and others to change the trajectory of the situation? What support do you need to shift from creating calamitous conflict to purposeful productivity?
I don't sit on a bed of roses in a pretty castle. I know work situations are difficult, and relationships are complicated. However, one fact holds true every single day. Every day we get to make a choice. Every day is an opportunity to move forward or stand still. The work tribes we choose impact our lives, health, happiness, and families. We can't change the past, but we can change the future. Today, choose wisely, choose differently. Today is a new day to start again.
If you want some ideas and tips on how to get started investing in your leadership, download my free resource on 20 different ways to invest in your leadership here. The choice you make today may change your life and the lives of others for years to come.
Leah JM Dean is a leadership strategist, tribe formation expert, certified strengths coach, best-selling author, facilitator, speaker, and founder of the women’s leadership program, the Tribe Advantage. She is on a mission to help women and organizations all across the globe transform their tribes in life and leadership. To learn more about Leah's work, her best-selling book Assemble the Tribe, or join The Tribe Advantage Leadership Program, visit www.leahjmdean.com. Leah lives in Bermuda with her husband and two children.