Exploring different options that will enhance leadership capabilities and improve results.
There’s a game I play with some of my executive teams where I ask them to form two parallel lines facing each other with their hands outstretched and then balance a thin wooden rod across all their fingers.
Their challenge is to lower the rod to the ground. Because the rod is balanced on top of their hands and no fingers are allowed above the rod, there is no way to exert downward pressure. They must work as a team to bring it down.
This might sound like a simple exercise, but I’ve never had a team complete the task in less than 10 minutes, even when two or more teams are competing. In fact, what usually happens is the rod keeps drifting higher, not lower.
As in any leadership exercise such as this, people will employ a range of strategies to try and achieve the outcome, from coaxing and coaching their team mates through to using humour, coercion, anger and even threats.
As a trainer, I deliberately create pressure situations to challenge and test my clients. I know that how they behave in the training room speaks volumes about what they do at work, how they treat their staff and even how they behave at home.
My role is to create awareness about the effectiveness or otherwise of their current strategies and help them explore different options that will enhance their leadership capabilities and improve their results.
Under pressure, people typically revert to Passive, Aggressive or Passive Aggressive behaviour, none of which is conducive to healthy communication or successful teamwork.
If you find that stressful situations make you more aggressive and domineering, consider the impact of that style of behaviour on your staff and their ability to perform both individually and as a team.
Or, if stress makes you retreat and stop communicating, then learning new ways to express and manage your upset will allow you to reclaim your power and be a more effective leader.
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