Purpose, Direction, and Motivation are the three things that a leader MUST provide to the team in order to have success. Leave any one of them out, and the results of the team will suffer.
This material should be included in all high school curriculum at some point instead of just in the MJROTC courses, because the fundamentals of leadership are simply a requirement to achieving ones goals.
The leader must provide Purpose, so that the team knows what it is supposed to accomplish. They must understand the goal so that they can act in the absence of the leader. They must have a understanding of the objective, of what is expected of them and by what standard they will be judged in order to set for themselves an idea of what accomplishment means.
The leader must provide Direction, because the team needs also to know HOW the objective is to be reached. In some cases the objective is enough and the direction that is given is to use best judgement, rely on past experience etc, but in this case Direction has still been given, and the team members will perform well because they have been given this trust. It is unwise to do this all the time, or the leader will never shape the team the way he or she wants, and will never have demonstrated the kind of thinking required, resulting in the team feeling insecure when they use their own judgement. So Direction then is first used as a training aid, and ensures that the team delivers the result in the manner expected, and then later as a means of ensuring that the team members will call upon experience and grow in their own leadership skills because they have been given the direction to do so, once that place in the development of the team has been reached.
The leader must lastly provide Motivation to the team. The team can understand what is expected and how the expectation is to be reached, but not having an internal drive to accomplish the task, they will perform only at low levels, and the team morale can suffer. The leader MUST take it upon him or herself to provide motivation in whatever manner the team needs most, and which will result in the highest performance. If the leader thinks that the team should self motivate, or that having a job is enough – it is just LAZY thinking and the results will nearly always demonstrate this.
So while these things to not in and of themselves make a great leader, in order to effectively lead, these basic fundamentals must be provide to the team, and it is the leader… who must provide them.
Purpose, Direction, and Motivation
A little story that describes drama…
Picture the hunter, so proud and tall, stalking the deer with precision and confidence, slowly approaching, stopping near, taking a breath when suddenly there is a bear, who had been nibbling on some berries and was startled by the hunter. Now the hunter backs away, and the bear follows making loud bear noises, leaving the deer safe and secure and then…
Did the bear rescue the deer?
Did the bear persecute the hunter?
Was the bear the victim?
What is so curious to me is that in this little story the victim, is completely determined by who is telling the story (grin)
The bear might tell a story of an evil deer, who craftily lured a hunter in to kill the bear, so that the evil deer could get the berries…
The bear would be convinced of it, sure in his mind that He was the victim here, that there was no other possible answer, that the evil deer was doing this on purpose! That it was to get the berries, and that the deer would stop at nothing to get them. That it was even willing to use a hunter, to cost the poor bear its very LIFE, in order to get what it wanted so evil the deer was. But in the end, the bear was triumphant! (see the bear swelling up with pride) it would not take this from the deer, it would chase down the hunter, and then return…
This is of course only one side of the triangle, the deer would tell a different story, and would be equally convinced of his victim state, and the hunter to be sure would tell a very different story indeed, think about how she feels and how she would tell the story…
oh but then, did you even consider that the hunter might be a woman?
Recently a wonderful opportunity was presented and I was reacquainted with an old friend, a tool that has lead me through countless changes and one that continues to point out the little things that I need to work on . That tool of course is feedback.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to discount feedback from others when it does not feel great? Sure sometimes the feedback feels wonderful, and we take that information and believe it straight away, reinforcing the oh so wonderful view of ourselves that we have, but that exact same person can share something that is constructive, but perhaps a bit harsh, and we immediately begin to rationalize the information, or completely dismiss it as false, or worst case, decide that the person is not even a friend of ours if they would make up such lies…
Yet negative feedback can be the only way to identify parts of ourselves that we might wish to change, the view from the outside looking in after all, is nearly always very different than the view from the inside looking out. (I assure you it is in my case).
One example of this is found in another useful little tool that has been around for a very long time called a Johari Window This little guy is a diagram of both self, and also groups and it shows the four areas of perception which are listed below.
The diagram looks like this;
In this image, the lines dividing each of the areas is equal, however this is nearly never an accurate representation, we as people who are in relationship with others, typically have a great deal of stuff that is not in the open. The following is an example of a new team member for example.
As you can see, the Open/Free area is very small, while the remaining areas are larger. This group dynamic will never function at high levels, unless something is changed, and that work is all about communication. In order to change both ourselves, and the group dynamic, we need to exchange information.
The only way to decrease the Hidden area, is to reveal information to others.
The only way to decrease the Blind area is to accept feedback from others (a bit tricky as we have already established.)
The only way to decrease the Unknown area is through discovery, a process that becomes easier and easier as the other areas are reduced, and the Open/Free area becomes dominant as shown below.
The primary focus of our topic today, is feedback, and the use of feedback as a tool for change. So lets focus on that for a moment, and here is the key. Harsh feedback can be difficult for us to take, and you have to prepare your mind to receive it.
In order to prepare your mind for negative feedback, the kind that might actually reveal parts of yourself that you are blind to… you have to solicit the information. Yep, you have to ask for it. You see if you ask for the feedback, and you prepare yourself to hear some things you dont like, you have a much higher chance of believing it, and then changing that part of yourself through whatever process works best. Sometimes its just repeatedly receiving the feedback, and other times you have to take on new challenges, or work differently in order to change whatever it is, that we want to change.
Say for example that you believe you are funny when you make sarcastic comments, but when you ask a group of peers, you get feedback that suggests you are offensive. Because you asked for the information, you take it to heart and over time, you begin to notice that the sarcasm is not appreciated by others, and that they perceive you as thinking you are better than them. You decide to take the feedback and change this behavior, and you stop making sarcastic comments. Shortly thereafter, you begin to notice that people seem happier to hang out and speak with you, and that you have better relationships.
This example is very basic and short, and often the things about ourselves that we want to change are not so obvious, but it serves to illustrate the example.
The bottom line, is that feedback is an incredibly powerful tool for showing you things about yourself that you may not even be aware of, and to increase its effectiveness you have to ask for the feedback.
Try it, each time I do, I am in the end happy with the changes that I have made, and I feel like I have grown. My hope is that your experience is the same.
Fairness is one of the most interesting thoughts, and it seems to be one of the primary causes of drama I think. I have in other writings or videos talked about how we create lower standards by seeking fairness, and how the chase to make things fair, sometimes leads us astray.
This time I want to just talk about fairness. Most of the time I think, fairness pops up as a lack of fairness rather than a sense of fairness, and when this happens, the most common reaction to the lack is to fall into victim thinking about how its “not fair” and how it should not be that someone else, has what we so obviously should also have, or have instead of…
This is a particularly dangerous road to go down because once a person decides that they are helpless to obtain what it is that they want, they will instead follow one of two or more darker paths. Obviously the healthy and responsible path to follow once a person has determined that one wants a thing, is to just go about getting it. This however seems to be the rarest of paths that we take. Instead, we follow a darker path, and I list two, because they are at the forefront of my mind, but I say two or more, because there almost certainly other paths that have not thought of and do not include here, but we should not overlook them if they become apparent.
The first of the darker paths is to seek fairness by reducing what we bring to the table. Say for example that we are talking about an employee feeling taken advantage of, because the employee is not paid what he or she believes him or herself to be worth.
This is a very common thought pattern and to list this example I will use information discussed in my video “What needs to be done” For the sake of the example, lets assume that the employee believes that they are worth 10 dollars per hour, but have taken a job for 1 dollar an hour. It may be that they took the job believing this, but just as common is that they took the job feeling fine about it, and then later decided that they were worth more, and slowly they reached the conclusion that they were underpaid by a great deal.
In both cases, the fairness factor kicks in, and the employee, seeking fairness, will intentionally reduce their own effectiveness, in an attempt to create a world where fairness is served. So now, the employee who is being paid 1 dollar an hour begins to perform at a level that is below the expectations of the employer and it is here that the real drama begins.
The employer, noticing that the employee is performing at a lower than expected level, will feel taken advantage of because the implicit contract between parties is that the employee will receive 1 dollar per hour, in return for performing at the expected level and they are not. To correct this, the employer may counsel the employee, reduce his or her wages, or terminate the contract and begin anew. Proving to both parties forever, that each was taken advantage of by the other and fairness was not maintained.
If you look carefully, you will see the lies that each party told themselves. The employee, should seek employment for the amount they feel they are worth, and then perform at the expected level, and the employer, might be better served by seeking to understand the motivations of the employee, and either reassigning them to an area of more value, or creating other forms of motivation that will compensate for the perceived disparity in fairness. In this example however we began with the employee, and so the focus will remain there.
If you are an employee who believes that they are not paid enough for the performance given. Then you should seek employment at those wages or at a package that satisfies the fairness factor – you should never reduce your own effectiveness to create fairness, because following that path creates a world where you become less, and less effective as you go, until you are eventually trapped by your own actions, unable to accomplish much of anything, for anyone, including yourself.
The second of the darker paths, is where we as people will seek to remove the motivating factor from the other person. In this path, we see someone who has what we want, decide that it is not fair for them to have it, and so we go about trying to take it from them, or at the very least make sure that they do not have it.
This is particularly insidious because not only are we still in victim because we believe that we cannot have what we want, but we actively try to undermine, or rob the other of what they legitimately created for themselves (the proof that it is legitimately theirs by the way, is that they have it)
As an example let say that two good friends are working for the same company, and they started at the same time, at the same level of pay etc. Equal in every way, and over time one of the two, is promoted to higher and higher position.
The fairness factor is activated, and the second friend, choosing a dark path, decides that this is not fair, and so goes about destroying the friendship, and undermining the first friend at every turn in an attempt to return him or her to equal status and thereby create fairness.
Can you see how Victim Thinking now costs this friend so much? He or she loses the friendship, loses the promotions that may be possible (because leaders rarely see those that destroy as valuable), and may actually succeed in costing another (probably temporarily), something that they created for themselves by following the right path.
We could go further into this potential for drama if the first friend, having lost the position assumes a position of victim – but that is better covered in another post.
For now, let’s just see these two dark paths, as the wrong choice. We need to know that we can have what we want at any time, just by deciding we want it, and going after it. By keeping an open mind about HOW what we want will come to us, and by diligently chasing after whatever it is, we are sure to succeed.
Fair does not exist – Fair is a construct of the Ego, and it creates victim thinking.
If you want something, go out and get it – it is after all, your responsibility.
A favorite quote of mine is “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and while I cannot be sure of its origin, it has occupied my thoughts for many hours over the years, and I have come to believe that the teachers are all around us, all of the time, and that the lessons then, are also around us at all times. It is we as students who are not ready to see, and so, like the early Indian peoples who are said to have not been able to see the ships off the coast, because such a thing was not possible in their minds, the lessons that will inevitably drive us forward into growth remain unseen, until the possibility of such growth is within our grasp.
As we approach a place where we may be able to grow, the resistance to such growth then jumps up to defend our ego, it manifests itself in many ways, but always with the same goal. To prevent us from changing. Change after all, is the enemy of the ego, it challenges what we believe at our core. It challenges how we see ourselves, and how we see the world around us. That very change, is the most threatening thing to the Ego, to have all that it has built up threatened with being wrong is too much for the fragile Ego and so it defends its false beliefs vehemently.
Anger, Grief, Fear, even Joy can be manipulated to distract and withdraw from the truth, to look away from the lesson so that the Ego can remain whole, and in control.
This weekend, like every weekend where real work is being done, I had the opportunity to see many forms of resistance, including one that I had forgotten about – Fatigue. This weekend a participant with great potential, struggled again and again with an overwhelming fatigue, tired and feeling ill, amplifying these feelings and giving them power until even the thought of participating in simple and fun events was distasteful because the ego recognized that by participating, it would come face to face with the obvious truth. The Ego then would have to give way to that higher self and in a moment of clarity, change would come. It was a difficult battle, but I believe that the participant won, in the end there was a different feel, a more powerful and engaged person who had power and could create change. Sure the Ego will jump up again, it may be many battles before the fatigue is finally beat down, and the change becomes the norm, but the glimpse of it was there. The hint that there may be something more.
I am humbled by the lesson. I remain as always a student. Sometimes I study well, and other times the lesson eludes me. Today I am reminded to guard against fatigue, especially when it seems to have no valid source, when I am tired for no reason. Today I remember that such fatigue is surely a sign that I am fighting a lesson which is close at hand. I will try to recognize that and seek the lesson.
Should this entry find its way to the participant who experienced the battle – Thank you, though your work I learned anew.
For the rest of us, lets just remember if we can, that the lessons are all around us – and sometimes it is others who do the fighting for us…