For this blog, I offer one item that a leader must watch out for in themselves as they lead the team and in the team members that you lead. It is a simple symptom but can indicate much.
Let me simply begin by offering a quote that was stated by a close friend of mine named Clark Crawford and it is highly illustrative. I will offer the quote and then highlight the importance:
“A person without plans for their future will always return to their past!”
This can be a symptom of a negative factor in your team that is holding you back. If you sense that your thinking is always going back to the past or if you hear a team member always talking about their past, it can be very bad. Let me offer some of the bad things for which this could be a symptom.
1. First, it could be a degree of narcissism where their entire focus is on themselves. I can think of times where I have heard individuals say things like “Well, I have been here for XXX number of years”. If their focus is not on the real problem at hand but rather on bragging about themselves, it could be that their real focus is not even on the organization or team.
2. Second, it could be that they are going back to comfortable and possibly academic situations they were in previously. Often their focus is on previous situations where the factors were known and already had a positive outcome. However, they are often making subconscious assumptions and in doing that, they subconsciously dismiss factors that are involved in the current situation. The solution from the past may not be applicable for the current situation and factors involved.
3. Third, if you or a member of your team is looking back, they are not “Feeding Forward” which is critical in today’s environment.
Either of these issues can be indicated if either you or a member of your team is often talking about themselves and going back to where it was comfortable. The old statement of “Hindsight is 20/20” is good to remember because looking back is 20/20 but to say that is this situation involves some degree of Assumptions which will not give a positive outcome in the current challenge.
If a leader senses that thinking in themselves or if you witness evidence of this in team members, what must the leader do. The leader should not point fingers and threaten or direct but the real solution is a coaching approach of asking yourself or the team member the right questions. Questions that clarify assumptions that are made or factors that are present but not clearly seen. Doing that with a degree of professionalism and respect is where the real solution.
What if you have a team member that is so arrogant and self-interested in themselves that they don’t respond? Well, some other questions to be asked might include “What does the team need to be successful?” and it might be that the team needs to avoid that level of arrogance and eventually it could possibly involve separating from the individual if it is ethical and legal.
In short, beware of those aspects that are always talking about their past because that can be a symptom the individual or your team - ”…has no clarity of plans for the future!”
- Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC