Flat, dull, strained, tenuous. This is the tone in Cheryl’s voice as she is telling me about the issues she is having with staff – the team turmoils, annoying conflicts and frustrations. “Why can’t people just work together better”, she says with a sigh. Even though Cheryl was feeling deeply agitated by these issues and the negative impact they are having on team performance her emotional cadence and countenance was markedly dreary and tired. For a moment it felt like the oxygen had been sucked out of the room, there was that much fatigue and that little hope. Does this sound familiar? Can you relate? How is your energy when thinking or talking about people problems that exist within your team?
A little later on in our conversation Cheryl shared she is taking a vacation soon – she and her partner are off to Ireland for 10 days. I couldn’t help but notice the considerable difference in her energy around this much more pleasant topic. Her tone shifted from drab and worn out to one of piqued interest, animated expression and happy excitement. It felt like the doom in the previous bit of conversation had lifted and the sun came shining through with jovial anticipation. Night turned to day and once again all was well in the world.
When sharing about the aggravating problems of people not working well together, I have frequently noticed the palatable lack of energy that leaders display in both there voice and face. This is especially true if the problems that exist have been going on for some time with seemingly no end and no relief. While this may be a normal response to chronic team conflict it is also a very harmful one in generating any progress to outstanding issues.