In a recent conversation with a faculty member, he told me about his experiences trying to increase the collaboration between his direct reports. On a regular basis, he holds a lab meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page and to resolve any outstanding issues. This semester, he started trying to include more team-building exercises into these meetings. He had tried several activities to help the team get to know one another better. However, this approach was not having the team-building impact he was hoping for. One or two team members seemed to enjoy the activities, but several had voiced that they did not feel it was the best use of their time. Yet, he believed that the same approach would work as long as he had some assistance. This approach had become part of his leadership routine.
This exchange reminded me of the leader character dimensions of courage and judgment as described by Sejits, Gandz, Crossan, and Reno in their article Character matters: Character dimensions’ impact on leader performance and outcomes. Each character dimension is comprised of elements. The elements of the character dimensions can create issues when they are lacking or displayed in excess. I had the insight that he lacked situational awareness (an element of judgment) about why these types of activities were not having the expected impact. I also realized that he was determined (an element of courage) to continue trying this method even though he knew it was not working.
Seeing the opportunity for a quick coaching session I asked, “What could you try differently to achieve your goal?” That led to a 15-minute coaching conversation that helped him gain situational awareness and understand how to use his determination more effectively.
Having awareness of the impact you have on others is important. Sometimes it helps to talk to a peer or supervisor about the obstacles you have encountered. That conversation can lead to a moment of self-discovery that can have a positive impact on your team.