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Leadership and fear

One possible reason why you might still be struggling....

This article got triggered at the back of a coaching conversation I had some time back with a client
My client is a senior global program manager with a tech company in the US
“I have been receiving feedback about my communication” He said “My team members perceive me as being aggressive, very directive and prescriptive in my communication”
“How is this impacting you?” I asked
“I am not perceived as a strong people manager” he continued “This is impacting my career progression”
“I might have lost a few opportunities at work because of this” he added further
We spent next 30 minutes diving deeper into this issue
And you know what we uncovered ?
The issue was NOT about communication style at all
The challenge was his inability to build healthy relationships with his team
There was very little trust between him and his team members
He was a very transactional leader, very focused on outcomes and results
And he admitted that he does not spend time in building relationship with this team
That was the main reason why a lot of his communication came across as aggressive
You know….
Sometimes, what you really see are the symptoms
And most of the time, you try to focus on and resolve the symptoms, without understanding the real problem
You look at a problem only at the surface level, and not digging deep enough to understand the root cause
It is like having a headache, taking a medicine for it, without really understanding why you had the headache in the first place
On other occasions, you assume that you know what the problem is
But the truth is…
What you think is the problem may NOT always be the case
The problem could be something else, something totally different....
For example, in the above case, the client thought the problem was about communication, but the real challenge was about trust and building relationships
And when you are not aware of the real problem, the solutions which you apply will also not work
At best, they may work in the short term, but the problem could continue to persist in the long run
Another good example is “stress”
Simply put, stress is your inability to cope up with mental, physical or emotional pressure. You feel completely overwhelmed

On most occasions, I have seen people trying to "manage" stress through various physical and mental activities such as meditation, yoga etc
Which is totally fine, but if you do not understand what is really causing this stress, then you are at best solving it temporarily 
The stress could be coming from….
..More workload
..More workload in turn, could be coming from your ability to say NO
..Your inability to say NO could be stemming from your need to please others
..More workload could also be coming from not having the right team structure in place, which could be putting more work pressure on you
And so on…..
You see….
The key is to dig deep enough to find the real issue, the root cause
And that may sometimes make you uncomfortable, because it may uncover your own fears and self-doubts  
So here is something for you to go back and reflect upon :
1) Pick up one specific challenge you are facing today ( personal or professional )
2) Note down the symptoms
3) Start digging deeper into the potential root cause. Do not assume that you know the cause beforehand
4) Try to keep the focus inwards ( It is very easy to fall into the trap of making others responsible for your problems )
5) The “5 Why” line of inquiry is a good model to explore
6) Another good question to ask is “Is that really the issue ? If not, what IS the real issue ?”
7) Once you have uncovered the real issue, think of a specific action YOU can take ( again, do not focus on actions which others should take )


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