Build Relationships, Not Fear

— September 16, 2019

So, I was really concerned. I have a client who sits on a team, and she’s a pretty fearless leader. She does not mince words, she does not back down easily, and she’s not afraid to attack issues. She got a new teammate a couple months ago, and in her words, he’s cracking skulls. Everyone is really afraid of him. Even people that I know very well that are not timid people are apparently rocked back on their heels. Here’s why I find that problematic.

Fear Diminishes Performance

We know clinically that when people are afraid, they don’t think critically, they don’t think creatively, they withhold the ideas that they have, they withhold concerns that they have. So, four of the major skills required for solid leadership, solid team development, and solid team decisioning are diminished when someone makes it so scary to contribute in those ways. And I don’t know what drives it right? Is it ego? Is it their own fear that makes them be so aggressive when they come on to new teams?

Leaders Need to Build Relationships Instead

I’m here to tell you that coming in as a leader, or even a participant on a team, and scaring the bejesus out of everybody, thinking you’re going to get more power or get a better result, none of that actually happens. So, when you’re new to a team, spending time building relationships is important. I think asking a million questions is important. I think leaning into your new direct reports to figure out all the things that you don’t know about that function is extremely important. But coming in and rattling your saber to make a point actually diminishes the function of everyone on that team. It may feel good, but it’s not good for business outcomes.

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Author: Emily Bermes

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