“It’s been weeks since Diane, and I’ve connected,” Joe said to me during our 1on1 coaching session.
Joe plays a crucial role in the business. Diane is his manager.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“That’s the point, I’m not sure. I feel out of touch, disconnected. While I want to be confident and believe I’m doing a good job, I feel anxious, unsure of myself…you know. I’d like to know how I’m doing. I’ve been in this role for several years. I think I’m doing great, but the distance between Diane and me is taking a toll on my confidence.” As Joe leaned forward, he asked, “Am I crazy?”
“No, Joe, you’re not crazy,” I responded. “So, what do you want?”
“I don’t need a lot. Consistent time with Diane…more clarity and feedback. I’d just like to know that she sees what I’m doing…I guess that she appreciates my team and me. What does she think about the how we’re doing? Are we on the same page?”
“How would that help?”
“When we do connect, and I’m confident we’re in agreement, I’m bold. It’s easier to move forward when I have clarity, accountability, and encouragement.”
The wrong kind of space
When people are disconnected, a gap is created. There’s distance between you and someone. “The Gap” rarely remains neutral. Fear is quick to publish a “worse case scenario.” Doubt usually fills in “The Gap” with a negative narrative which attacks your confidence. The fight or flight response often kicks-in.
“The Gap” is a break in continuity. Clarity to move forward is hindered. The stability a healthy connection brings is lost. Relationships are undermined, and performance is disrupted.
In my new book, Leaders Create Space, I describe the three creations of leaders. It’s how you close “The Gap.” Part of a Next Level Leader’s work is to:
- Create Space to Think — the disciplined use of time, place, and resources to reflect on truth in the Story; (truth is feedback, experience, success, and failure)
- Create Clarity to Act — the deliberate alignment of purpose and structure to achieve success
- Create Opportunity to Get Better — the cultivation of culture and environment to inspire people to do inspired work
Each of these creations requires intentionality. In fact, they have to be created.
What are you creating?
The story we tell ourselves and one another matters. And when there’s distance between us we make stuff up to fill “The Gap.” Not only are relationships damaged, but performance takes a hit when “reality” is based on assumptions, not truth in the Story.
As Tom Robbins says. “We are, as human beings, caught up in a web of narration; this great narrative web, and we have always defined ourselves…through narration, through stories.”
In his recent Monday Morning Memo, Roy H. Williams reminded us of the creative power of story. “You and I speak a world into existence every day. And the kind of world we create depends only on the kinds of stories we tell.” What world are you creating at work and home?
“The Gap” occurs when we’re disconnected. The vacated space cannot remain empty, it will be filled. The only question is how will you fill-in “The Gap?” Will you pursue the truth or take the bait of fear-based thinking, misguided beliefs, false assumptions or inaccurate information? One thing is for sure, without creating space to think, the narrative will lean towards the negative.
As Steve Jobs correctly observed, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda for an entire generation that is to come.” While this is true on a grand scale, it is equally true of you and the story you tell yourself. The narrative is compelling because “The Gap” demands it and emotion is involved.
The 3 C’s of Next Level Leaders
To improve your relationships and performance consider the Next Level Leadership functions: Connect. Create. Coach.
- Connect — Discover the Story by asking: What got us here?
- Create — Explore the possibilities by asking: What does “there” look like? How can we get better?
- Coach — Care for the person by asking: How will we get there? How can I help?
As you can see, to function at this level requires a lot of intentionality and structure. Most leaders are too busy with the job to do this type of work.
Create Space to Think
“How are you going to move forward with Diane on this?” I asked Joe. “What’s your responsibility?”
“Sounds like I’m responsible for addressing the disconnect I feel in our relationship and what I need from her.”
“Let’s prepare for that conversation.”
To get work done — with and through others — requires relationships. The pace of life is opposed to solid connections. However, you can close “The Gap” through effective communication. Please note, I did not say you can close “The Gap” through command-n-control, micro-management or showing up as a control freak.
Connect. Create. Coach.
Here are a few questions to help you reflect on the disconnects in your world.
- What creates “The Gap” in your world?
- What are the vital relationships in your life?
- Where is “The Gap” creating conflict, stress, or underperformance?
- What’s your responsibility in the relationship?
- Who do you need to connect, create, and coach?
Here’s to you Next Level Leadership,
Transform disruption into clarity for life and work.
Order your copy of my new book Leaders Create Space today.
Click on the image below to check it out on Amazon.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash