Let Them Fight (WT540)

Let Them Fight (WT540)


Let Them Fight WT540

I find it really interesting that themes seem to emerge from time to time.

The past few weeks I have had discussions with my legends about the challenging times they are experiencing with their management teams.

“We are not aligned Shirl.” “We’re not on the same page.” “All we seem to do is fight.”

My reaction is to get excited.

“Let them fight.” “Get excited when your teams are fighting.”


“Because, number one, it means they are engaged and number two, you can’t get to be a high performing team unless you go through what we call The Team Development Wheel.”

The Team Development Wheel is based on a model that was originally put forward by Psychologist Bruce Tuckman, in 1965, as the 4 Stages of Team Formation. You might know the stages as “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing”. Later he added a 5th stage called “Adjourning or Mourning”.

We use a sailing analogy with 4 quadrants in a circle. The first quadrant is “Becalmed”. In this stage, the team is just forming or you have new members joining. At this stage people are polite and minding their manners. They are watching and waiting. They are working out who’s in charge and where are we going.

The second stage is “Squalling”. To get the boat sailing you need to have wind and harness it. This is the “fighting” stage, where team members start to fight over roles, different personalities and different ways of doing things. They can also fight because they are feeling overwhelmed or they may be engaged in power plays for the leadership position. The most important thing you can do here is to “let them fight”.  Rather than stopping your team members from asserting themselves, encourage them, however give them the tools to fight clean. Teach them how to construct a Confronting I Message and Conflict Resolution skills as well as Active Listening. It’s so important to help the team move through this stage because you can’t get to the third and fourth stages without going through this stage.

Stage three is “Sailing”. In this stage, team members are working together and working on refining and improving systems and processes. They are getting to know each other better and finding ways to resolve their differences.

The fourth stage is the “Spinnaker Run”. In this stage team members become what we call “interdependent”. This means they can rely on you to do your job and do it well; they trust you. They also trust you that if they fall overboard, you will bring the boat around to save them. In other words, you have each other’s backs. There is mutual support and respect and productivity is high.

The fifth stage, “Adjourning or Mourning” is when the team disbands. This could be because a project has completed or the team is no longer needed or team members leave. There is usually a period of adjustment at this time.

The important thing to take away from this week’s thought is to not get upset when team members are fighting (not physically fighting, of course). Rather, give them the skills to fight fair and to fight clean. One of my beliefs is that “there is nothing that can’t be cleared up in conversation”. If you won’t have the conversation, you’ve got no hope of resolving the conflict.

If you’re up for it, this week I encourage you to share the model of Team Development and ask your team members where they would place your team on The Team Development Wheel. Draw a circle. Divide it into 4 sections and, like a clock face, ask them to write their initials on the outside of the wheel for where they think the team sits and then discuss the differences in scores.

You might be surprised at what you all learn about each other.

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Understand the “No” (WT539)

Understand the “No” (WT539)


If you’re like me, I’m guessing you don’t like to hear the word “No” when you make a request.

In fact, I don’t know too many people who do, unless of course, they have read “Go For No” by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, but that’s a whole other Weekly Thought.

Today, I want to focus on understanding what’s behind the “No”.

Salespeople are taught to keep questioning until they understand the reason for the “No” and then, if they can, help the prospective customer overcome their objection, to make the sale.

I’m intrigued that we don’t do this with our employees.

For most of us, we simply get frustrated and do our best to either convince our employees or worse, order them to do what we want.

This week I had the opportunity to observe an employee’s reaction to a request to hire more people.


“Why not?”

“If we do, they won’t stay.”

“Why won’t they stay?”

“They want a permanent position.”

The penny dropped for me when I heard this. The employer was offering to hire a “casual” employee. I knew that the employer wasn’t attached to having a “casual” employee, rather they were looking to find the best solution to ensure that clients were being looked after without overworking or overwhelming the current employees.

“What if we offered permanent part-time, instead of casual?”

Now we got an entirely different response.

Name, I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen, really listen to understand what people are telling you.

The misunderstanding here, like most misunderstandings, occurred because we hold a different perception.

Your job this week is to understand the “No”.

What’s really behind the “No”?

I encourage you to put your “Patient Hat” on (patient as in giving someone time, not seeing a doctor – just so we’re clear) and take the time to really listen and understand the “No”.

You might be surprised at how quickly you get to a “Yes”.

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Permission to Speak Freely (WT535)

Permission to Speak Freely (WT535)


WT535 Permission to Speak Freely

This week Ross and I hired a room at the local library to create some training videos for a 9 Day Business Freedom Challenge I’m about to launch (for just $9 if you’re interested).

Following my Blueprint for Business Freedom, the very first step is to Know Yourself.

As part of the challenge, participants are encouraged to raise their self awareness by asking team members and family and friends to give them some feedback about how they show up in the world.

I referenced the military term “Permission to Speak Freely”.

All too often I find that people at work will not speak freely. This distresses me because I have the belief that there isn’t anything that can’t be cleared up in conversation. (Yes you can reword that to be in the positive, however I like it expressed that way.)

Time after time I attend meetings for clients and team members speak freely to me and yet when they have the opportunity to address their colleagues or managers, they fall silent.

As leaders it is our responsibility to create a safe space.

If we don’t encourage our people to speak up, we lose the opportunity to understand what’s really going on and to be able to resolve any issues.

It’s too late after people have left. I remember when Ross resigned from one of his positions, his immediate supervisor actively avoided conducting an exit interview, even though Ross requested one. The supervisor was not open to hearing the feedback. Of course Ross has completed our Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience so he was able to assert himself without being inflammatory, however he wasn’t afforded the opportunity.

What’s happening in your organisation?

Are you actively encouraging people to speak freely or are you unconsciously telling them that you don’t want to hear the feedback.

My best clients are those who are open to the feedback. They don’t always like it however they listen and then take action. I’m the same. I don’t necessarily enjoy receiving negative feedback, however I do appreciate it because it gives me the opportunity to improve and to fix things.

So you have permission to speak freely to me.

Are you up for the challenge? Will you give your team the same permission?

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I Wish I Hadn’t Said Anything  (WT533)

I Wish I Hadn’t Said Anything (WT533)


WT533 I Wished I Hadn't Said Anything

How many times have you said that to yourself?

“I wish I hadn’t said anything.”

The other night Ross was watching some teenage boys who kept looking around to see if anyone was watching.

You know the look people get on their face when they know they are doing something wrong and they don’t want anyone to see.

I watched for a few minutes too. They were doing their best to break a pipe on the side of a community building opposite from where we were staying.

Knowing the story of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in 1961 in New York and not one person even rang the Police to get help, even though there were hundreds of people who heard her screams. And knowing the psychology breakthroughs that the investigation inspired which led to what is known as “The Bystander Effect”, where you are better off if you find yourself in trouble to only have one other person around. They will most likely help you, whereas if there a number of people around, they will most likely stand back, thinking that someone else will help (and of course, nobody does).

And knowing the story of Victor Frankl whose family and himself were captured and put into Nazi prison camps and his words “Evil prospers when good men stand by and say nothing”, of course I poked my head out of the van and asked them, “What are you doing?”

They ignored me.

I was about to get on a call so I couldn’t follow it up but Ross did. He walked over to them, asked them what they were doing and was threatened by the older one “What are you coming over here for and getting in my face, do you want a punch in the “bcfing” head?”

They argued for a while. The teenager told Ross “it was public property and therefore he could do anything he liked to it”. The teenager continued working on extracting the pipe. Ross threatened to call the Police at which stage they ran off.

Then the doubt set in. “I wished I hadn’t said anything. What if they come back and slash the tyres? What if they bring their big brothers back? What if…. What if …..?”

For the rest of the night, I was uneasy. I wished I hadn’t said anything. I wished I had handled it differently and yet on a deeper level I knew better than to see something and ignore it.

What would you have done?

The question for all of us is, “Do you do the right thing or do you stand by and do nothing and let evil prosper?”

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I’m Fine (WT530)

I’m Fine (WT530)


I'm fine

I was talking with a colleague this week and as we often do, we got into a deep and meaningful conversation about leadership.

We discussed the saying, “If you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question” and the ramifications of not asking, or worse, asking and then accepting the answer, even if you don’t believe the answer.

As an example, (we’ll call him Ted), explained how his kids will sense that his energy is off or his demeanour is rather gruff and they’ll ask him, “Are you angry daddy?”. His response is usually “No, I’m not angry”, hoping they will leave it at that.

Of course, kids being kids, they don’t leave it at that and they persist, “Are you sure?”. They keep going until he either admits what he is feeling or he changes his demeanour to match what he is saying.

How often do you simply accept the answer someone gives you, even though you have an innate sense that what they are saying is not true, just because it is easier to accept than to question?

Good leaders know their people and they know when what they are saying and what they are doing or how they are showing up is out of alignment.

Good leaders are present; not distracted. They are aware. They see, they listen and they enquire.

Good leaders have taken the journey from being totally unaware to becoming aware of themselves and their team.

They give themselves permission to ask and to follow up. They don’t take the easy road to simply accept an answer at face value.

Are you a good leader or do you aspire to be? If so, you won’t accept “I’m fine” for an answer when your senses tell you, they are not fine.

Remember, it takes courage to not leave it alone. It takes courage to ask and it takes courage to confront.

What will you do next time you ask and the answer you get is “I’m fine”?

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I’m Leaving (WT528)

I’m Leaving (WT528)


WT 528 I'm Leaving

When you’ve got good people, the last thing you want to hear is “I’m leaving”. 

Talking with one of my rockstars this week, we discussed the importance of knowing your people so you don’t get blindsided when they give their notice.

“The more I know about the people I lead, the easier it is for me”, she said.

Knowing your people is the second milestone on our Blueprint for Business Freedom. 

When you know your people, you know what motivates them. You know what they want and don’t want. You understand what’s going on for them out of work. You know what’s important to them.

Think about your team. What do you know about them? 

Are they in a relationship?  

Do they have kids? 

What do they do for fun? 

What are their goals; at work and out of work? 

What is their Love Language; how do they like to be appreciated? 

How do they like to learn? 

How do they like to be managed? 

What do they like about the work they do? 

What don’t they like? 

What are they good at? 

What are they not good at? 

Are they ambitious? 

The more you know about your people, the more you’ll understand them and the more you understand them, the easier it will be to look for a win win situation to help them get what they want, so you can get what you want. 

One of my former bosses, Kip McGrath, was a master at knowing his people. I started working with him in August 2000. By December 2000, he gave me a $5000 pay increase. He also knew I was ambitious and I loved to learn and grow and develop.

A few months later, he came to me with a proposal. “I’ll give you 3 years of management training if you give me 5 years of service.”

There was no written agreement. It was a handshake. We agreed on a number of 6 monthly milestones and each time I met them, my pay and responsibility increased.

Within 3 years, I was a senior member of the executive team and had tripled my income.

Kip was such an amazing boss and mentor. He knew his people and he always found ways to create a win win situation for his employees and the business.

Back to you. How well do you know your people?

Would you see it coming before they announce “I’m leaving”?

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