Have you had a team member that was reluctant to move forward with a new program or plan? And it wasn’t the normal naysayer or the daily dissenter – it was your loyal, dedicated team member. Maybe it was even the one person on your staff who is always on board and supportive.
In the excitement of new initiatives, we can assume that the problem is with those who don’t share our enthusiasm. We can easily think, “What is wrong with him? Why isn’t she running with this? Why don’t they see the benefits?” We’re tempted to explain again all of the reasons why ours is such a phenomenal plan.
Even when we’ve done our due diligence, sometimes we still get ahead of ourselves or miss an important detail. A loyal supporter who is slow to embrace the change may have insight we need to hear. Yet many employees don’t feel comfortable disagreeing with their leaders. They may question their own hesitation, fear being wrong, and say nothing. But they just can’t seem to get on board.
Perhaps like some of you, I’ve occasionally focused more on convincing than listening. In one particular situation, one of my team members who was typically very supportive and positive, was hesitant about a contractor we had hired. I thought we needed the outside perspective and additional resources the contractor provided. Eventually my employee took over the project with much better results than we experienced with the contractor. I would have been wise to fully explore his hesitation much sooner.
If we are met with reluctance, what are some options for us as the leader of the team or organization?
We can remain confident that we are on track and move forward without complete buy in. An employee with less experience may not be able to conceptualize the end result. For some people, the pieces begin to fit together when the puzzle is partially completed. For others, change is difficult. Even positive changes require time for them to adjust. Pacing the implementation of the new initiative may be the solution.
Or we can probe a little deeper into the resistance. We can ask more questions with a genuine desire to understand, and a willingness to hear sincere objections. We will need to make it a safe conversation for the employee who doesn’t like disagreeing or fears disappointing us. We can assure the employee that we welcome input, and we will listen and carefully consider his or her opinions and objections.
One aspect of crisis prevention is to keep asking at every step along the way, “What could possibly go wrong? What are we missing? What could backfire?” Dreamers and visionaries often see only what could go right. That’s the wonderful balance of a diverse team! We need the idealist, the realist, the “jump in and get it done” people as well as the “let’s wait and evaluate” team members.
It can be a very wise investment to keep humbly asking the right questions to get to the source of reluctance. What we learn could be a gift that allows us to sidestep a land mine, readjust our timeline, or tweak the plan so we are on the very best path for success!
Executive Search Manager
Do you need to have all the boxes checked in order to promote?
The answer is easy, no, you do not.
Last month, I wrapped up my Master of Public Administration degree and in my studies I approached the topic of diversity in local government, and more specifically, how to inspire women to take on leadership positions in government. What I found out was interesting…
You may already be aware that women comprise over half of the United States population, but what you may not know is that, according to ICMA, “by 2006, women earned 59 percent of MPA degrees while the proportion of men had declined to just more than 40 percent.” So if women make up more than half of the population and are earning more MPA degrees than men, why isn’t local, or federal government for that matter, representative of this part of the population in leadership positions?
After researching this topic to death, and spending multiple all-nighters chugging coffee, I finally found a reason that made sense. It’s not that women don’t want to take on leadership positions in government, it’s that they believe that before they can promote they must have all the boxes checked. This differs with men, who tend to apply for a position when they have a little over half of the boxes checked. I know, it may sound silly, but I can definitely relate to this. I have stopped myself from applying for many jobs because, after reading the job description, I thought that I didn’t meet all of the standards that the position was asking for. But the thing is, you don’t have to meet all of the standards, you just have to be willing to learn.
I have read this over and over, and believe wholeheartedly, that government leadership should be representative of the people with whom they serve. It is because of this that I think that government’s should be taking the necessary steps to achieve diversity and to encourage the growth and development of ALL staff members. Now, whether you achieve this through the establishment of a mentor program (inside or outside your organization), coaching, or by encouraging your employees to pursue further education or training, is up to you, but sometimes it helps to give your employees a little push and remind them that you are an advocate for their career development. Who knows, that little push could lead your employees on the path to the next presidency.
What are your thoughts?
Allow us to introduce to you The 16 Percent’s newest blogger—SGR’s own Marlie Eyre. Marlie joined SGR in February 2015, as a Member Collaboration Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, Indonesian Language, and Politics as well as a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and Trade. Her focus of study has been on government and governance both at a local and an international level. Marlie has traveled to more than twenty countries both as part of her studies, to pursue various work opportunities, and to broaden her understanding of local governments, policies, and cultural understanding. Prior to joining SGR, Marlie worked with various government and non-government organizations including an internship with U.K. Trade and Investment based in Melbourne Australia, Scalabrini Refugee Center in Cape Town, South Africa, and for the previous four years. has been working with a consulting company based in Montreal, Canada. Marlie is also fluent in Indonesian.
The demographic changes that America is experiencing currently is and will continue to be one of the most pressing topics in leadership circles. The demographics are shifting, this cannot be denied. But what does this mean for public service? What does this mean for those in leadership positions in public service? In today’s blog, we will explore why it is so important to be informed about demographic shifts and how this will make us more successful in our jobs and the services we provide.
The San Antonio Spurs team is one of the most culturally diverse professional sports teams in the USA, not to mention one of the most successful NBA teams in recent times. Last year an action taken by head coach Gregg Popovich demonstrated one of the most profound examples of leadership and how important it is to recognize diversity I have ever seen. The San Antonio Spurs have players in their line-up from all across the world. One of these players is Patty Mills, a young indigenous man from Australia. Mills’ father is an Indigenous Torres Strait Islander and his mother is an Indigenous South Australian. He is the first Aboriginal Australian to play in the NBA and carries the pride of the entire Australian nation on his shoulders.
On June 3rd, right before the Spurs were about to begin their preparations to come head to head with the Miami Heat for the championship, Gregg Popovich walked into the locker room and asked his players “do you know what today is?” Popovich then proceeded to flash an image of an older indigenous Australian gentleman up on the projector screen. Mills and fellow Aussie and team mate, Aron Baynes knew right away what he was referring to. The photo was of a gentleman named Eddie Mabo. Gregg Popovich proceeded to explain to his team the importance of June 3rd, Eddie Mabo Day, in Australia. Indeed this day, “Mabo Day”, is an important date on the calendar for all Indigenous Australians and Torres Straight Islanders, as it marks the day the Australian Government recognized Indigenous land rights. Mills was overwhelmed and filled with emotion by this action. Mills mother and father were in town at the time to watch their son play in the finals against Miami Heat and heard about what happened in the locker room. They were said to be just as taken aback by this extraordinary act of recognition and leadership.
The fact that Gregg Popovich felt it important enough to take time out from NBA finals preparation to recognize and educate his players on this topic demonstrates the enormous amount of respect he has for his players and their diversity. On a team that has more international players than domestic ones, he felt it was vital to recognize diversity to build his team and strengthen the relationships and respect between his players. This was not a stand-alone act by Popovich. He has done this on more than one occasion for others on the Spurs team. Popovich is a leader. He is a coach. What he did for Patrick Mills, as a leader, is truly inspiring.
So what can we learn from this extraordinary demonstration of celebrating cultural diversity from a leadership perspective? Diversity is special. It is a thing to be celebrated. It breaks down barriers in the most incredible ways. It reduces frustration and improves communication. It builds relationships that, as leaders and service providers, we cannot have success without. In our communities, knowing who we serve and not just recognizing diversity but embracing it, will lead to greater success and understanding.