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Entries from March 2016

Meet the Gremlins

10th March 2016
As a leader you have to set the tone and the standards in your environment.
When things are going well this seems easy and you make real progress. However, every once in a while we hit a bump in the road or a roadblock, and people, more often than not, create these.
It’s at times like these that you are tested. Can you keep your calm, credible persona and continue to maintain the tone and standards of behaviour you have established?
Easier said than done right? Particularly if you are under pressure to deliver something to a deadline or at a crucial part of the project when key decisions are to be made.
Dealing with these bumps and blockages (real or imagined) is about being able to step back and see the patterns rather than be sucked in to the whirlpool of emotions.
If you can see that all relationships have a pattern then you can begin to spot what is going on when relationships become a little ‘testing’.
  • What role do you each take on?
  • How are you stereotyping each other?
    Personal Impact, Influence

The Gremlins

Let me introduce you to 4 possible gremlins you may meet in these situations. These descriptions come from the work of Virginia Satir who identified 4 universal patterns of fear driven communication.
The Blamer
Gremlin number one tends to put fault on the other person and point a finger, making judgements about what is happening. This kills listening and understanding and can trigger defensive or aggressive behaviour in the receiver.
The Placator
This gremlin is likely to appease the other person to avoid anger, fear, being rejected, disliked and disagreed with. They can be seen as ‘yes men’, wanting to be everyone’s friend and won’t tell you that they disagree with you. The danger here is they could walk away and then share with others the degree to which they disagree and potentially sabotage your plans.
The Computer
The behaviour to look for here is someone hiding behind words and ignoring any threats, hoping they’ll go away. They can come across as super reasonable as they have all the data and may hide behind this insisting on being correct. After all accuracy is king!
The Distracter
These tend to hide by changing the subject and change their minds even faster, so may seem unfocused. They dramatise and can be exhausting to deal with and it may feel like you’ve been hit by a whirlwind. Keeping people confused covers up their uncertainty.
So now that you have some indicators to be able to spot these gremlins how can you begin to stop them from disrupting your path?

Leading the way

Gremlins are triggered by fear, fear of being left out, fear of being out of control, feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, not recognised…
If you can keep your head and begin to recognise these behaviours you build your flexibility and ability to influence. So, here are my suggested steps to get these relationships back on track.
Self-management. The moment you feel your own gremlin(s)starting to surface – STOP! Press the pause button, take a step back and focus on what is actually happening externally. It’s rarely personal so look at the situation objectively.
Get curious. See things for what they are and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you were them, what might you be thinking? What might you be fearful or uncertain about? What might be driving the behaviour you are seeing?
Self-reflection. Are you being clear about what you are communicating? Have you provided enough information to engage people? Have you congruently asked for what you want? What assumptions are you making?
Start a dialogue. Be prepared to explore the situation to understand what is happening and seeking agreement on how best too move forward. Seek feedback and create an environment that makes it easy for people to do this.
Leadership is always work in progress and we can always learn from each other, so feel free to share your own experience of managing your own gremlins below.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we
see is a perspective, not the truth.”

Marcus Aurelius


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