How are you doing? Fine!
It's ok to not be ok! Even if that's the message you give your teams, how do you create that safe space to enable you to dig deeper and get past the answer of just fine? Life is busy and challenging and if you are in leadership then your core tasks are a priority and working past the answer fine is hard work and takes you off task sometimes, but it's necessary.
Without question after the past couple of years the biggest thing affecting organisations and teams at the moment is mental health. Many can’t or don’t know how to cope with change or indeed not knowing what the future might hold. During the past couple of years I have come to know this only to well with people around me suffering breakdowns, burnout and suicide. At the start of the pandemic and as we all went into lockdown in the UK a very close friend chose to no longer carry on with this life. She disappeared for a few days and while myself and my husband had daily contact with the police who were trying to find her I always remember her reply when you asked her how she was, fine, would be the stock reply. In reality fine was not the truth, she had become programed to answer, Fine! Days later she was found and pulled out of the river Clyde in Glasgow, getting that call is something that remains emblazoned in my memory and something that will have me forever on high alert when someone answers, fine! On looking back on the days before her suicide you realise watching her eyes her light appeared to have been turned out, the eyes no longer matched the answer given.
Are you ok? How are you doing? As a leader are you focused on productivity or do you take time to ask yourself as well as your teams these questions? It’s ok to not be ok! …and yes this might be a phrase you tell your teams but indeed do you also say this to yourself as you lead? ..or do you carry on as though life is normal because that’s how you think is best to cope and well…you don’t want to come across vulnerable to your team because you’re not supposed to when you lead? Who taught us that? How does that work for you?
Before Covid19 darkened our doors the world of work and already been changing, there once was a time where work life and personal life were very much separate. Slowly this has changed and if it hadn’t changed for you before Covid19 then I’m sure this reality has now been enforced. Zoom calls where a 4-year-old interrupts to give his opinion on the monthly sales figures and many other examples of the 2 worlds colliding are now out there to provide humour to all on reels and YouTube. The working life is now focused on work life balance as to succeed in any one area in life then all other aspects must be aligned to be truly successful. Along with this change there has been a recognition that organisations who work collaboratively together in teams go further and are more likely to succeed. A move away from hierarchical structures are happening and where they do still exist then burnout tends to happen within senior management.
There is a tool I use that you will see above called the peace index when asking the question, how are you doing? For me, how are you doing is such an open question that represents an open field with no fences meaning the horses could bolt at any moment. This then doesn't represent a safe space for the person answering meaning they will inevitably say, fine! Because of my life's experiences of late leading me to becoming passionate about pushing past the stock answer of fine then I use the peace index to chunk that question. When you create a culture where it is safe to talk about things that might be challenging then asking how's your peace index makes more sense as you are coming at it from a genuine stand point of wanting to know and not just making polite conversation. Within the peace index the question is broken down into 5 areas of your life:
Purpose - are you in a place where you are fulfilling your purpose, do you clear on what it is?
Place - does the location you work in or live leave you feeling inspired and not drained?
Provision - Are you happy your earnings and potential earnings?
Physical Health - how is your health, could it be better?
People - do the people around you serve you or drain you?
Asking about the peace index helps you to be able to chunk the overall question enabling you to get to an open and fuller answer than just, fine! This will also better enable you as the leader to provide solutions if needed. As a leader though how do you create a safe space where every time you ask these questions you get deeper answers, is vulnerability the answer? Is it a good thing to be vulnerable when you are the leader? As leaders sometimes we think we are superhuman or indeed are expected to be. Within that expectation lies the danger, we are not! We are all human, we have our faults, struggles and our tendencies and these tend to come to the forefront when in stressful situations. Being vulnerable with our teams and sharing in a structured way what our tendencies are and show that you are working on these builds trust (and a bond) within the team. You might want to share your own peace index with your team and what you are working on, within the boundaries of discretion and discipline to lead the way on talking openly about the fact we all have challenges. Vulnerability-based trust is the key to high-performance teams as they know where it’s safe to take risks and face conflict on the team rather than fear it. It makes the team more agile and innovative.
All throughout my working life and running my own businesses my focus has been on problem solving and helping others reach their potential. How do we be our best versions of ourselves? How do we ultimately become successful in everything we do, no matter what adversity we face? How do we look out for the higher good of those around us and in our teams?
I work with many leaders and teams and use many visual tools that disrupt normal communication to enable you to get to the heart of your challenges and your teams challenges quickly. There are many tools like this on the free GiANT platform that resembles netflix for leadership. Head to https://www.giant.tv/diamond to sign up for 30 days free. The content along with personal profiling assessments and team assessments and many other tools I use are grounded in science and is developed to help you succeed in this fast paced ever changing world.
If you or your team’s lights have been dimed or switched off during this time of change lets work together to get those lights turned back on and be the brightest, they have ever been before. We can’t do this thing called life on our own……so give me (Rachel) a call on 07748718757 for a free chat and we can talk about individual coaching or providing your team with the tools to succeed.