The leader stood before her most senior team members. Shoulders rolled back, holding a tall and strong standing posture, her chin set and slightly elevated, her steady gaze looking downward with the tilt of her head, one eyebrow raised...
There had been plenty of data offered during the session. She had done an excellent job of relating the state of the business. Everything was clearly laid out and now was the time to rally everyone together. “We’re in this together.”, she thought, “And I’ve left plenty of time for discussion and questions.” She had received feedback about the lack of opportunity to engage in such meetings. So she intentionally left space for this time.
She gazed intensely at everyone in the room – excited and nervous…
She moved from one leg to the other. The leader actively resisted crossing her arms – instead, she quickly rolled back her shoulders to stand firmly and strong again. She looked intently at people in the room – trying to make eye contact.
“Come on now. Surely there are questions? Or comments? We’ve just spent 2 hours reviewing the state of our business…” she tried to smile but decided not to...
Silence. People stared at their notebooks, were looking outside, or fiddled with their phones.
“Well then. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable speaking in this group.” Surely someone would speak up now… was that phrased as a question?
Pause. More silence.
“If that’s the case then you can come to my office later.“
Even deeper silence from the room. Frustrated and disappointed, the leader ended the meeting to the relief of all.
This scene* is one that I have seen played out many times before… speaking to leaders in this scenario who would seek to change how this interaction plays out, I would offer the following reflections…
Your team is a reflection of you.
While your team may hear your words, they also feel into your presence.
When there gap between “what you say” and “how your show up” as a person in power, others will intuitively adjust to ensure their own safety around you.
Aligning “what you say” with “how you show up” is hard work that requires awareness and a commitment to take actions that support genuine personal integrity.
You are worth it. Your team is worth it. It’s time to get to it.
Change starts with you…
*a work of fiction drawn on different life experiences – both as a participant in the room and as the leader – yes, I’ve been here before…