After nearly 25 years of working in the field of human development and organizational learning, I’ve come to realize this: At the end of the day, professionally, folks are just trying to figure things out and are looking for clues to be more effective.
How will I manage all my direct reports across remote locations? How will I massage some of the egos on the board of directors? How do I fit into this new, alien culture? How will I manage a battle of wills with a co-worker? I see these questions in bubbles above people’s heads as they scarf down their breakfast and race out the door to work.
I truly believe individuals, teams and enterprises can learn how to be better at what they do. It’s often a messy, emotional process that may involve confronting the powerful forces of denial and delusion. A client once told me, “This process is like putting my finger in a meat grinder!” Sometimes it’s like that. But if we’re serious and honest with ourselves about wanting to be better at what we do, we usually start with asking other people, “How am I doing?”
My work reminds me of the tagline from that ancient TV show, “There are a million stories in the Naked City…..”
The just-promoted Gen-X department-head swimming upstream in his efforts to win over his new team of grizzled engineers who’d seen it all. The vice president who was dismayed to discover that his long-time assistant was poisoning the office environment with her power-tripping. The leadership team that had derailed with cries around the conference table, “We’re going down in flames!”
I love my work because it gives me a ringside seat into the full range of human behavior. Despite the potential for stumbling upon duplicity, complicity and the Seven Deadly Sins – I know that people are capable of amazing things. So stay tuned as we kick off this conversation about people, teams and enterprises – giving it their best shot, learning from experience and, always, looking for clues.