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After being a certified coach for 6 years while I performed a management role in a large corporation, I moved in a full-time leadership coaching and organizational effectiveness position within a large factory site that creates state of the art micro- processors. In this new position, I started forming coaching partnerships with various senior and mid-level managers. I asked one of the senior managers that I was coaching if I could observe him in action in a meeting. During the meeting, I was struck by the overwhelming mood of low energy and lack of smiles and laughter. There was no celebration of the small wins the team had achieved or appreciative statements during the meeting. (In my 25 years at the company I had not experienced this level of resignation) The team had been solving many difficult problems, and had much success but not enough recognition of the amazing things they accomplished. There were still many more problems to solve so the emotional state, the internal narrative. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just our fate to work and work at never-ending problems. This was like watching the myth of Sisyphus in action.
The factory site had a culture that did not reflect its own desired state and the collective leadership behaviors did not reflect external research on best practices. A lack of trust and openness caused employees to be reluctant to ask their manager for help and to cling to behavior of self-preservation (“I’m going to watch out for myself and my own area”). In addition, a number of leaders radiated their own stress throughout the organization, generating a downward mood and state of feeling overwhelmed. My observation data revealed that often 70% of the leaders multitasked in critical forums, reducing engagement and positive leadership energy. Lead our People behaviors were insufficient with the dominant focus on task only and little focus on relationship. The common form of motivation was negative attention that research shows is three times the weight of positive, causing employees to use energy to avoid pain versus igniting possibilities. There was a general lack of encouragement, engaging the fire within that helps create a high performing team and individual productivity. The lack of desired behaviors were invisible to those immersed in the culture.Download Article 500 Club