Growth and development are essential, but we know that experiencing this is often difficult. Sometimes painful, especially when you toss in the additional factor of dealing with adversity too. Is there an optimal approach to getting this right?
I’m not sure about you, but there are days I feel like during some conversations I’m living in the movie Ground Hog Day. If you are not familiar with this movie, it stars Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The context of the movie is that each day is on repeat from one single day in time…Ground Hog Day. The reason I’m drawing this comparison, is because so many people appear to need support with better appreciating how they will absolutely need to put in more effort into their growth and development. Hint. Sometimes it’s not much fun to do this, but it is almost always worth it.
To set expectations, it will be necessary to go beyond the limits of where someone feels comfortable in order to experience growth. This applies to both a workforce team, as well as a sports team’s growth. If either of these team’s do not have a growth mindset, their performance outcomes are not going to deliver the results they are hoping for. In my experience, I have seen people have more growth during adversarial times. This isn’t to say it is impossible to have growth occur which is strategically planned out, and this is a preferable option. However, the reality is most development professionally and personally occurs during times of adversity.
As I was reflecting on this topic, I thought of a comment another leader I was speaking to recently made. They told me that their job is to be in charge of the “background music and atmosphere”. In other words, they were the person who was responsible for contributing to setting the vibe and base culture of their organization. They were also the leader of the organization. I loved hearing this analogy, as it made instant sense to me. I also started thinking about whether there perhaps is a song that is representative of setting this mood, but of course in reality there isn’t just one. It’s more of a feeling you get when you think of the organization. Of course, a good one.
This past week was a tough one for both me, as well as one of the team’s I am working with. They are going through a difficult transition period in the middle of their season. This would be equivalent to a mid-quarter transition if this was a workforce team. Most of us have experienced either an unplanned or anticipated transition, but independent of this, it doesn’t always make it easy to go through it.
If the transition is unplanned, there are both pros and cons to this scenario. Some of the cons are that you don’t know what to expect the potential outcome will be, and this can be from a lack of experience to know what the options could be. Another con is that the impact on the transition may not be in your favor, but then again, it might be. A pro to this scenario is that you will be learning from it. Perhaps not right away, as you will likely need time and perspective to be in your favor to do so. The other pro from an unplanned transition is that you will ultimately learn something either about yourself, your leader or your teammates. Perhaps all three categories. When you learn something about yourself, this is when growth occurs, and ideally, it enables you to take your experience with the scenario to the next level.
Upon speaking with individuals on the team about the transition they were going through, the emotion level was in some cases on red alert. Half the team was on the defense as we talked about how they are either negatively or positively contributing to the transition which the team was experiencing. There were some people during these conversations who were quite surprised by what we were talking about, and some of them were visibly not happy about segments of it. Perhaps they felt they were being verbally attacked, but this wasn’t the intent. The intent was to do what I often refer to “holding a mirror” in front of someone. However, this is done so you can verbally show and share with them how they are being viewed based on their body language actions and verbal contributions. Or, lack of them when they were being observed.
During one of the conversations, I shared with the person my own experience with having the first of a number of these conversations when I was on the receiving end early during my career. To say I elegantly processed the first of these conversations wouldn’t be accurate, as I didn’t know quite how to respond to what I was being told was constructive feedback. Actually, only some of it was, but it was the delivery method that left a lot to be desired. The result of having numerous of these experiences over the last several decades, has shaped how I would one day be in the reverse scenario. In a leadership role. I would also learn to deliver and handle very similar conversations dramatically differently. Yes, I learned and grew from this experience, and this was the goal for me. Was it difficult and hard to do? It truthfully was, but I know it helped me to become a better future leader at that time.
If you are looking for suggestions on what you, or others you lead can do to increase your opportunities for growth and development, especially during adversity, I have included them for you below:
- Always trust your instinct. However, if you feel compelled to get a second opinion, I encourage you to do so.
- Work on containing your emotions during critical conversations or scenarios. I’m not suggesting you act like someone else, but I am recommending you think about how you could come across more neutrally. This applies to both delivering and receiving information during a conversation or brief verbal interaction.
- We don’t always have the right perspective, particularly in emotionally charged situations. When possible, take time to decompress before engaging with another person or the team you lead before you act and speak more based on emotion than logic. Sometimes a mix of both can work, but it’s an advanced communication and leadership skill that will take serious practice.
- It’s possible you will have to come to terms with the fact that there are people you interact with, or lead, that are perfectly happy and even comfortable with their lack of growth. This may be hard to imagine, and depending on what role they serve, this may or may not be acceptable. If your team is growth minded, you will need to determine if it is possible for the individual in question to change. Or, not.
- Excuses are easy to come up with to avoid doing something. What if you stripped away all of the excuses you could think of, and committed to the unknown, and ventured into being open to growing and developing as a person or professionally. This would be independent of the outcome and whether or not you are currently in a leadership role.
- If you seriously want to develop and grow, you will need to understand that you are going to have to move potentially way outside of your comfort zone to do so.
There may never be a perfect time to experience growth, but if this is something you seriously want to accomplish, you know the saying… “there is no time like the present to do so.” Go make this happen. Especially during times of adversity.
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