Out of Alignment


Do you remember the first time you led a team that wasn’t? When I thought about it, the first memory that jumped into my head was when my team was at each other’s throats. It was completely unexpected. We had successfully met some major challenges and should have been riding high. Instead, there was discord and finger-pointing about what was wrong with the way the office was running and what other people were doing. It quickly became my first leadership challenge. How to bring alignment absent of a crisis?

I admit it, I went into a “deer in the headlight mode” for a bit. I had no clue what to do. And then, I had an idea. I brought everyone into the conference room and showed an excerpt from Robert Fulghum’s “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some.
And draw and paint and sing and dance.
And play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

As a result, we talked … and we laughed … and we listened … and we talked some more. We listed all of the issues that surfaced; and then, when everyone looked at me to solve them, I shook my head. This was ours to solve. Teams were formed, ideas were generated, solutions were proposed and accepted. Some problems had no solutions but bringing them into the light brought understanding. We were back on track and in alignment.  We were ready for our next challenges — this time as a team.

This Week: All sorts of teams show up in business and life, especially now. This is a time when issues need to be surfaced and discussed. There won’t always be solutions but there can be understanding. Set the ground rule to listen for points of commonality from which solutions can be built. Seek to build alignment and create something better.

In Next Week’s Post: Alignment around a vision.

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