I don’t like crowds. Which I realize is slightly ironic considering my career path is laden with large-scale events where hundreds and thousands and sometimes millions attend.
This also means I don’t really like Christmas shopping or shopping on high traffic days, I don’t like lineups, I don’t like waiting, I don’t like being in the middle of a bunch of people. I have never liked to be held back from going where I want to go or where I can see I can go.
My mother experienced this firsthand throughout my younger years when I would disappear during outings only to show up at Customer Service stating that “I lost my Mom,” which resulted in a store-wide announcement seeking Tanya’s mom. But all I wanted was to go freely where I wanted, when I wanted, and the way I wanted. Perhaps it’s an issue of control?
Control is an interesting thing, really, because it is based on perception. If you think you have control, then you feel a certain way; if you think someone has taken control away from you, then you feel another way. Or if you feel like you are “being controlled,” you feel a different way.
Often people construe an issue with control to mean an issue with authority. That’s not the case with me. I can submit to authority easily when I respect the person I am required to submit to and when I think they have my best interest in mind. If they don’t, then they will likely see some pushback, a bunch of questions and some other disengagements or rogue activities. I do not think I am an anomaly.
Not following my mother was not about disrespect, it was about following my curiosity when I was too young to know the impact of being that kind of selfish. But as we grow, part of our job of being human is to understand our impact and our selfishness. It’s our job to understand our insubordination and it’s our job to evolve.
To evolve is to develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form. And isn’t that what rearing children or leading people is all about? To guide their evolution of becoming more and more human? To provide safety nets in the exploration of their human experience? To encourage, cheer and correct along the journey?
If you are leading a team and experiencing a loss of control or a perceived loss of control, then I urge you to look deeper and see if your real issue is respect, safety and comprehension.
If your team doesn’t know or doesn’t believe your actions are in their best interest, that jeopardizes their safety, which fractures their respect because you are viewed as untrustworthy.
And if you control information to the extent that they have no idea where you or your company are headed, it disables their option to be involved, to contribute or to feel like they add value.
If you are so enamoured with where you want to go that you leave them behind only to seek them out when you are ready to be found or need help, well, that might explain some of the insubordination.
Your opportunity to control the direction of your team is built on your ability to foster respect, create safety and openly communicate. If you can’t trust the people you have surrounded yourself with, then that’s another issue.
I believe the foundation of leadership is to treat your team well — include them, educate them, trust them, respect them, empower them and keep them safe.
The payback is control by way of followers with respect and trust, which translates into an ability to achieve, to implement change and to ultimately be the leader that your team deserves.
Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way.
*Special shout-out to my mother, Bernice LaBuick, who always came looking for me, and always admired my ambition to find my own way.