Beware...or Be Aware....This post is a bit more touchy-feely than usual.
I feel like managers and leaders today have this pre-conceived notion that everyone is supposed to act or behave in a certain way at work. Even for ourselves, we expect that as a person with people in our charge we need to always be a certain way.
Being connected with your team is the, dare I say it, ONLY way you will have an empowered and engaged team. There is a lot that goes into being connected with your team, but part of it is Acceptance.
Acceptance for who we are as people, as humans.
There's a great quote by Michael J Fox, "My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations."
We are all human, yet at work showing any kind of human emotion or reaction is an absolute no go.
By the way, not ALL emotions are negative....I witnessed a manager tell his team to quiet down when they were whooping and congratulating a woman whose son just got engaged. What the heck?!?! How dare his team have a happy moment that they are sharing. I mean, we wouldn't want EVERYONE to feel happy even if it's just for a few fleeting moments.
If you really want to connect with your team it's time to start accepting, as Kimberly Davis describes in her book Brave Leadership - we are emotional messy human beings. (that might not be exactly how she put it, but close enough.)
We all have outbursts, bad moments, messy moments, crying moments, exciting moments. It's time to start accepting those moments and quit fighting the fact that they happen. How about focusing on how to turn those moments into opportunities for growth, happiness, and connection instead of trying to shut them down?
How about accepting that YOU TOO are human and will have those moments. If it will make you feel better, I will share my own moment when I cried in front of my team. Yep, cried like a little baby.
We were at our Christmas lunch at the end of the first year with my new team. I wanted to share with them some stats that they had accomplished because we were in the midst of 4 major IT projects that brought us a lot of criticism due to the number of changes that were taking place. Most of the team were assigned to these projects and still managed to do their BAU work under such scrutiny. It was important to me to share their results because they were phenomenal. Where most teams would have given up or just phoned it in because work was too hard, they pushed through and supported each other through it all.
As I delivered the results, I started crying...couldn't help it. I was very proud. I remember looking up and the team was shuffling in their seats uncomfortably. So, I quickly made a joke and moved the conversation on....but after that, they knew how I felt about them and they got to see a bit of a messy me.
No harm, no foul. Just a manager that was stoked to be a part of an awesome team.
Now, I'm not saying you need to break down and cry in front of your team...but if it does happen, it's ok.
Accepting that people have emotions at work, is ok.
Use them for good...quit fighting them.
Be a Connected Leader.