Issue #123, July 30 2023
Welcome to Insights and Implications!
Have you ever worked with a motivated, ambitious and productive employee who could use some help with their leadership style? Or have you gotten this feedback yourself? This month’s newsletter explores how insight paves the way. We hope you enjoy it.
All the best,
Executing Execution Part 1: Impatience
One of my clients – we’ll call her Kate – is an incredibly driven and productive manager in a well-respected non-profit in my town. In some respects, Kate is the type of employee that every organization wants. She pursues and captures oodles of grant money. She’s a fantastic fundraiser. Creative and full of ideas, she’s a strategic thinker who sees opportunities and develops relevant programs to better serve the community.
Kate is an outstanding executor. With one big catch: a tendency toward impatience.
In the heat of the moment, especially when facing an unanticipated problem, Kate was known to lose her cool and talk down to whoever was in the room. In her quest to grow the organization and achieve, she consistently left a trail of tearful employees in her wake.
In a pickle and contemplating terminating their most productive leader for cause, the organization’s Board of Directors asked me to work with Kate. When we met, I found an extremely warm, personable, and passionate leader. She obviously cared deeply about her role and her people. Her employees, however, were torn: while they loved Kate’s ambition and were inspired by her growth mindset, they were also intimidated and fearful. Something needed to shift.
Because all behavior originates in thinking, I knew sharing insight principles with Kate would help. We met 1-on-1 over a series of weeks, and it didn’t take long for Kate to have the insight that she needed: her impatience was just a form of insecure thinking rooted in perfectionism. When problems arose, she’d lose her connection to her well-being in the moment and act out of frustration. This, in turn, would fill the heads of her employees with worry and upset.
Kate saw deeply that when human minds are full of insecure thought, our creativity suffers and we’re less able to solve problems efficiently and effectively. Her insight was doubly powerful because she saw this truth playing out in herself and her employees. She realized that perfectionism was not only impossible, but blocking the flow of insight, which was making it harder for herself and her employees to find solutions. So she came up with a plan: she’d apologize to her people for her behavior, share what she learned about thought, and ask for their help in keeping her accountable for her commitment to improvement.
Nine months later, in the midst of the organization’s busiest season ever, Kate has completely turned her style around. Her employees and the Executive Director report that she is leading with humor and humility and her team is less afraid to raise issues or ask for help.
In next month’s newsletter, we’ll share more about how this change happened in Kate – how she is allowing her feeling state to guide her in a new way. In the meantime, the Board of Directors is thrilled: instead of being on a performance improvement plan (or fired), their star executor is creating a safe environment for people to tap into the current of creativity that flows through all of us, and the organization is reaping the rewards.
All it took was a little insight.