Gossip is a toxic behavior in the workplace, so focus on building strong trust instead of a quick connection.
Contributed By Allison Graham St. John
You’ve probably heard stereotypes about a “helicopter parent.” This parent is someone who nervously hovers by their child on the playground to protect them from the smallest scratch. Or it’s a parent of a college student who calls the professor to question a low grade.
Did you know that this parent could also show up in your office?
These helicopter parents are given such a name because they are overly involved in their child’s life, removing much of the child’s responsibility to create their own success. The parenting style is perceived as unfavorable, damaging, and downright micro-managing. Yet, the parent is often acting out of a deep love and wants only to keep to their child safe or to help them succeed.
The same unintentional, negatively-perceived, hovering can happen at the office when we’re not in tune with our talents. We can become a helicopter parent to our employees!
If we’re aren’t regularly self-reflecting on our own strengths and behaviors, or we’re in an unhealthy state, say overworked or tired, we can begin to demonstrate signs of our strength themes’ “basements;” the place where we prohibit our strengths from being most effective.
For example, a leader with the Command theme can be inspirational, direct, and easy to follow, which can create strong leadership and a healthy team environment for employees. Yet, when left unchecked, the Command theme can create ‘basement behavior’ that’s domineering, overly critical, or know-it-all focused, which in turn removes shared accountability from employees and the group dynamic can be stifled.
So, how do we keep our inner helicopter parent in check?
Mindfulness of one’s own behavior could help a leader with high Command elevate their basement behavior to balcony by recognizing when a team member’s behavior is worth criticizing for constructive purposes, versus when it’s tempting to criticize just because it is not how they would have done it.
The basement behaviors of every talent have the potential to negatively impact your employees, but here are a few strengths themes to especially consider since their ‘basements’ lean towards micro-managing:
As leaders, we often act out of a deep commitment to help our employees succeed, just like helicopter parents do with their children. However, if we’re unaware of the pitfalls of our talents we struggle to mitigate the less serving behaviors, become overly involved or smothering, causing damage to our high functioning teams.
Remember, you always have a choice of how you use your talents.
You also have the choice to self-reflect and be aware of your actions.
If you ever find yourself in the basement of your talents, know that it’s temporary; you are always climbing to your balcony to master your strengths.
To help check yourself and help you with your climb to balcony, ask yourself one of these questions:
Strengths and Weaknesses are not mutually exclusive. While there is deep power and usefulness from focusing on your Strengths and approaching all challenges with an awareness of the tools you possess, it would be naive to not discuss the importance of your awareness of balcony behaviors that accompany our talents.
Strength themes’ “basements” are the place where we prohibit our strengths from being most effective and where weak spots emerge. We must be aware of our weaknesses to mitigate their impact to create negative outcomes. These basement behaviors sometimes show up if we’re in an unhealthy state, say overworked or exhausted. Sometimes these weaknesses are even entwined in our Strengths if we allow them to operate in raw or undirected versions.
For example, my personal number two talent of top five, Strategic can be a bit of a runaway train when it’s operating in a raw unkempt manner. Night may be spent with the brain on hyper drive when trying to find a solution with little success in turning it off. In the raw it may also trigger impatience when someone else does not see the pattern and path as quickly. These raw versions of Strategic have gotten the best of me from time to time.
It has taken some practice to elevate these Strengths, and focus on using other Strengths to help mitigate the situation. Instead of letting my strategic brain run away from me, or get the better of my patience, engage Empathy to think from the other person’s perspective, and Developer to remind myself to give the other person the space and time to work out the pattern or solution. They may inevitably reach a better path than I have through their own Strengths.
As so many things in our lives, your own Strengths can be a wonderful ally, but a terrible master. Be aware of your basement behaviors, those places that feel dark, dank, and low, so that you are able to continually elevate your Strengths to their balconies, the places the feel uplifting, supported, and successfully applied. Our basements can hold wonderful opportunity for growth by recognizing them, and creating a plan to climb out of them!
We are so excited to have Allison St. John join us as a blog contributor here at The Collaborative! She brings a diverse background, a wealth of knowledge, and a "can do" attitude!
Get to know Allison...
Allison is a teacher of adults, striving to build healthy organizations by helping others realize their power as a leader. She has experience working with a wide variety of organizations ranging from a small, local, non-profit offering people services, to a “glocal,” mid-sized, cultural exchange organization, to a multi-thousand global, corporate, for-profit medical device company.
Allison has a master’s degree in Communication from the University of Denver, with a concentration in Organizational Development, Training, and Learning. She also holds a BA in Communication & Culture and a Psychology minor from Indiana University.
Allison is a certified facilitator with DDI, Development Dimensions International. She is also certified to deliver Abilitie’s Management Challenge program.
One of the most common struggles I hear from both coaching and consulting clients is, “I just have too much on my plate, but I have no idea where to begin taking things off!” So often this overload is cloaked in under the guise of responsibility. Thoughts of I can’t possibly let that go, or give that task up because it needs to be perfect. Wouldn’t it be nice to remove the guise and use our resources to delegate?
For tips on delegating, give the article I wrote for Savor Life Magazine a quick read!
The Collaborative Blog
Blog written and maintained by Christina Rowe except when otherwise stated that there is a guest author.