It’s natural for us to favor some personalities more than others. When we feel a comfortable energy and alignment, it makes conversations and common experiences flow. No doubt, you have one team member with whom you hit it off more easily than others.
Then, there’s “that other one” on the team with whom things seem a bit more stilted. You feel a small undercurrent of resistance or tension when they bring forth ideas. You don’t enjoy conversations with them, and you find yourself dismissing their contributions.
These relational dynamics can give the impression that you are playing favorites (and maybe you are!). And this damages your team’s ability to work best together. Because if you are noticing your bias, so are they.
What do you do?
1. Get perspective.
Talk to a mentor or colleague outside of the team and check your intolerance. Allowing someone you trust to give you some outside perspective might help you to flush out hidden biases that need reconciling on your part.
2. Shift your focus.
Find things you appreciate about the person. Begin to look for ways you appreciate this team member on a personal and professional basis. Notice unique qualities she contributes. Ferret out ways he lends positively to the team or outcomes. This will help you rebalance your view of the team member.
3. Build bridges.
Begin to call on your “unfavored” team member first when asking for opinions in meetings. Chances are, if they have not been speaking up, you haven’t been encouraging it. Think about instituting individual coffees or breakfasts with your team members, and be sure to start with this particular team member. Seek to identify projects and other discussions which will allow you more face time with them so that you can practice engaging differently with them.
Finally, remember that as leader, you are the role model for the team and, in turn, the rest of the organization. Making the conscious decision to turn a problem into an opportunity can only be a great learning lesson, and a win for all of you.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.