Many organizations—ours included—hire outside consultants occasionally to assess their overall health. But observant leaders can analyze small behaviors and get a pretty good idea on their own.
Here are three examples:
How do people park? Are they parking like I do when I go to a sporting event, with an “easy out” mindset? Does that correlate to how hard they work during the day? Are they already thinking about how quickly, and how easily, they can get out of here?
Where do people sit? Recently, I was in one of our meetings and two people from one part of the business sat across the table from two people on another side of our business. I could sense conflict, that they weren’t all on the same page. And guess what--they weren’t.
What language do leaders use? I sometimes hear leaders use personal pronouns in describing what they are up to: “I did this,” with emphasis on the “I,” as if they deserve all the credit for progress. Or, sometimes language passing on decision-making: “YOU need to decide what we are to do,” as if no responsibility falls to the leader saying this. “Extreme ownership," or personal accountability, is all about owning your responsibility, and not blaming others. To be sure, it still matters. But these comments are indicative of problems with their leadership. No one, after all, can do things entirely on their own (this week's #TheoThursday is also about language - the use of profanity - stay tuned!).
Leadership is about awareness that leads to action. The leader needs to connect with, and lead, the person thinking just about “getting out of here.” The leader needs to bridge the gap between the two teams in conflict. And the leader also needs to lead themselves well, especially in modeling appropriate language. They should always share praise, and always accept blame.
As Pastor Andy Stanley says, “pay attention to the tension.” Being aware of the tensions present in the organization is the job of leadership.
Leading the organization toward resolving these tensions will help the organization become healthier.