Me, my, I and why this doesn’t work.

I’ll never forget the moment in time I was called out by the CEO of the company I was working for, and when he pulled me aside after I had given a presentation to our sales and marketing team’s. What I didn’t realize was that during the presentation I was giving, I referred to the team I was leading as my team and sprinkled in references to alluding to other words which were not inclusive of the team. I didn’t do this intentionally, but I learned an enormous lesson that day. Thank you, Lou Shipley, for teaching me this lesson. I am grateful you taught me this.

After the presentation was given and we were on a break, Lou asked if he could speak with me. I didn’t know what he wanted to speak to me about, and I was caught off guard by both his timing, and what he had to say. Ultimately, he told me that I referred to the marketing team as my team and leveraged the words I instead of the words our and we. Upon hearing what was intended to be constructive feedback, but was yet hurtful, I was also embarrassed for making this mistake with my chosen words. However, this was a lesson which has served me well, and this is the first time I’m publicly thanking Lou. Of course, I don’t have to do this, but I am also a fan of giving people credit and appreciating and acknowledging when others help me.

Did the team I was leading notice my choice of words? I can’t say for sure whether they did, and if they did, I still maintain they knew me well enough to appreciate that I am not a selfish person. More importantly, that I always had their best interests in mind. Independent of this, the rest of the lesson played out in a way which I have embraced and passed along to many others. Including you now.

From Lou’s perspective, my choice of words came across as being potentially arrogant and devoid of giving credit to the team I was leading. I can now appreciate the optics of his perception, but at the time the “teaching” conversation was occurring, it felt like I was being criticized versus being taught a leadership concept. Sure, Lou could have chosen to say something to me after the event had concluded, but the impact of his timing was critical, even though I wasn’t going to be in a position to make this same gaff later that day.

After some time passed and I was able to appreciate Lou’s leadership advice, and since that conversation, I have been hyper aware of not repeating this same mistake. It’s also been interesting how I am now more sensitive to appreciating how others in leadership positions verbally and in writing give credit to their team’s. Or, whether they chose words which I chose during that moment in time which made others potentially think I was taking credit for everything the team I was leading had or was about to accomplish.

Last week I was watching a live post game conversation with a sports coach, and the journalist kept trying to almost trap the sports coach into taking full credit verbally for the winning results. What happened instead, was this coach gave credit to his assistant coaches, the supporting staff and then the athletes for their accomplishment. He never even alluded to the fact he had contributed to the win, and it was incredibly refreshing to see his approach. It was this interview that triggered me to reflect upon to the opposite experience I had with Lou. Seeing and hearing this coach’s response almost brought me to tears, as his demonstration of being unselfish was so authentic. I will add it was impressive too.

If you are either unaware or know a leader, sports coach or someone who impacts others that isn’t choosing the right verbiage or isn’t giving their team’s the credit they deserve verbally or in writing, here are some suggestions to address this scenario.

  • Leveraging hypothetical scenarios in conversation with someone who isn’t seeing or appreciating what you are trying to help them with is a technique I use which significantly helps get your point across. It might take multiple examples, so keep coming up with new ones until the person grasps the concept.
  • Consider asking the person if they are aware of the fact they do not or are not regularly giving credit to both their support staff and the team they are leading. If a person hasn’t been taught or is used to giving praise and credit to others, they may not be comfortable doing so. It will take them practice getting to the point they can do this well, and more often.
  • Over praising can in fact diminish the authenticity of your praise, but there is a middle ground you will be able to find that will work well. You will need to sort out where this middle ground is, and when you get there, it will feel right when you reach it.
  • There are plenty of examples of leaders, sports coaches, and people you can mimic or modify their style of how they both verbally and in writing express appreciation for their staff and team. You need to be the judge on which style is going to be right for you.
  • If possible, watch a video of how you express to others how your business or sports team is performing. You might be surprised by how you are doing this, and I can assure you, there is always room for improvement in this area.
  • Test drive on one or two people you lead what words you are intentionally selecting to offer them guidance or praise, and how they are reacting to this conversation. Pay attention to the fact you might find some people will shut down and not respond well to your conversation. If this happens, be sure to not hit the “ignore button”, but to instead pick a time to talk to this person, or the group which has shutdown to address what you are seeing occurring. Keep in mind that some people do not like to be praised publically.

At the heart of this topic is the concept of organizational behavior. Contributing to this concept both positively and constructively will have the type of impact you and others are expecting, and when the organization is healthy, the culture health will be too, but this all starts at the top to model the right behavior.

TAGS: #Business #Sports #Leader #Leadership #Sportscoach #Communication #Strategy #Organizationalbehavior #Loushipley #Success #Motivation #Teamdynamics

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