Leadership in Action: Shifting from reactivity to creativity with co-workers
Updated: Dec 11, 2018
Issue: My organization provides therapeutic and educational care for abused, neglected and traumatized children. I noticed a direct care counselor having negative interactions with clients. He tended to raise his voice and (in my mind) create unnecessary conflict with kids who already struggle to handle their emotions due to their significant trauma history. I felt frustrated watching the interactions, and I villanized him for these behaviors. At the same time, he was being considered for a semi-promotion and I did not feel that he was ready.
Shift Move: Shifting from reactivity to creativity. I brought my concerns to the attention of our leadership team. They challenged the storyline I was building by offering different perspectives on the situation. Rather than making my colleague wrong, our group made it a macro discussion about burnout, which is common in our profession. We also focused on and appreciated his positive professional qualities. The next time I noticed a negative interaction from my co-worker, I took the time to gently and directly point out how these interactions impact the kids, without blaming and with greater perspective.
Impact: My colleague has since improved his interactions with kids. Most importantly, I'm appreciating our leadership teams's support of all staff. Their lack of blame and judgment, and ability to stay out of reactivity, makes me feel safe to speak my mind and encourages me to show up positively for all members of our organization.
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