Category Archives: Team Building

Four Reasons Leaders Need To Avoid Labels

Labels were part of my upbringing. I say that because in my family each child was given a label to describe their abilities or personality. One of us was the baker and dramatic. One of us was pushy and a guitar player. One of us was an ice skater and not an academic. And crazy as it may seem, we lived up to those descriptions. They became us and we became them. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, that if we are told that we should behave or act in a certain way or that we are talented or not so capable, we tend to gravitate towards those depictions. We even create a narrative about who we are and what we can accomplish based on those labels.

Similarly in our companies and on our teams, we place labels on the people we work with. We decide early on who they are and what they are able to contribute. We continue to believe that the characteristics we attach to our co-workers and bosses are there for the long haul, never to be adjusted. This is how it is and we evaluate each of our strengths using those labels.

Leaders need to recognize that when they label the people they work with they are not empowering them to be their best or live up to their potential. Rather, the label becomes a self-limiting belief.

 Four reasons leaders need to avoid labels:

 1. LABELS ARE IMPRECISE WAYS OF DESCRIBING OTHERS

If we believe that stereotyping is never a helpful way to assess other people’s abilities, then labeling others falls into the same category. When we attach a particular attitude or ability to someone, we are using a “judgy” word to describe their capabilities rather than being specific about the value they may bring to a project or solution. Adjectives are often a waste of time and only add confusion to working with others.

2. LABELS BECOME SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESIES

We know that when children are “tracked” in how they will academically perform, they tend to stay exactly in that zone. If they are told they are only capable of achieving average grades they begin to believe it and just turn in average work. On the other hand, if they believe they have the potential to rise to outstanding work, they often will get there one way or another. The same is true with the people we work with. If they think we believe they can contribute in an outstanding way they often will.

  • Encourage each team member to try new things and take risks
  • Give credit generously
  • Stop yourself from using labels like “lazy”, “not capable” or “overwhelmed”

3. LABELS CREATE STIGMAS

When leaders use labels other colleagues and departments may start to believe the labels too. So if we say that a team member is not committed (another nutty adjective) others may start to believe that too. This is how we stigmatize people. STOP! Everyone is entitled to have a good and bad day or a more or less successful project. Work on developing the strengths in others and help team members overcome their blindspots.

4. LABELS BRING A TEAM AND ORGANIZATION DOWN

When teams get in the habit of labeling members they will tend to rely on the same people to always do the same work. The result will be less creative outcomes and less participation. Team members will not grow because they will not be encouraged to try projects outside of their “label”. An organization will never develop new leaders with new perspectives or capabilities unless we dump the practice of labeling.

How have labels impacted your leadership or team?

Five Leadership Approaches To Wake-Up A Team

How does your team look these days? Are team members dragging their feet, awaiting a vacation or a day off? Has the routine and workload gotten the better of everyone? Maybe the direction the team is following doesn’t seem to make a lot a sense or support the overall organizational goals. Whatever is happening, it may be time for a shake-up or wake-up. But who will lead the charge to disrupt or challenge the team?

Working with teams for many years, I often hear someone complain about how dysfunctional their team is. Finger pointing is often the way a team communicates when deadlines are missed and team members are frustrated. It’s always someone… Continue reading | 6 Comments

Seven Choices To Compassionate Leadership

It’s easy to give up on team members or colleagues when they don’t meet our expectations. When co-workers don’t pull through in the way we thought they would or should, we often become angry or feel let down. We even may become defensive and be ready to go on the attack.

Have you faced any of these frustrating situations in your workplaces or collaborations?

  • Missing information for a project
  • Deadlines that are ignored or miscalculated
  • Being omitted from an important email
  • Not being part of a team decision
  • Overlooked to be part of a Happy Hour after work

Many of these actions may not be a… Continue reading | 8 Comments

Why Leading With Kindheartedness Makes Sense

I have seen all shapes and types of leaders in my workshops. There is never a program I present that I don’t learn something new from a participant. But of all the qualities that contribute to strong and impactful leadership, the one that stands out and makes the greatest impression for me is kindheartedness.

What is kindheartedness?

A few definitions are:

  • Having or showing a sympathetic nature
  • Friendly or generous by nature
  • Arising from a kind heart
  • Sharing the feelings of others

All these descriptions point to a leader who brings caring and concern for others while helping them to grow their leadership knowledge and skills. I… Continue reading | 6 Comments

Five Critical Leadership Skills To Grow

pic-for-critical-leadership-skills

We begin our careers loading up on every technical skill we can. We want to master every part of our job and be comfortable carrying out each task with agility. That’s our goal as we strive to be the best leader we can and add value to our teams. Yet at some point we notice that although we may be capable of successfully completing any project, we are facing some different kind of challenges in persuading others.

This realization for some leaders that something has changed is expressed so often in many of my leadership workshops. An energizing discussion often emerges.

“Why won’t my team members listen to what I have to say?”… Continue reading | 8 Comments