They Know Not What They Do Because They Know Not Who They Are

I’m working with one of my coaching clients  – I’ll call her Sally because I don’t know anyone called Sally – on strategies to manage a couple of her problematic team members.

The guys Sally is dealing with have been bad apples for years. They have toxic personalities that affect everyone. Consistently rude in emails, nasty, demeaning comments to colleagues in meetings, a whole gamut of objectionable, rogue behavior that we’ve been teasing apart so she can address it layer by layer.

It may seem shocking that this behavior is tolerated in a workplace, or maybe you recognize this kinda guys and try to avoid them every day, either way Sally’s problem exists because other folks chose to kick the can down the road.

Former team leaders decided, for whatever reason, that they were not going to confront these guys about their behavior. “Not worth it”, “bigger fish to fry”, “that’s just how they are”, is what I’d probably hear if I asked prior team leaders why they didn’t step up.

When Sally first approached me last year about coaching her she explained that she felt she needed help figuring out what to do about the problem “because it’s the right thing to do for my group.” She felt obligated by her position as team leader to confront the issue.

I pointed out that confront at its essence means “to face”, not “to fight”, in my mind this is turning your face toward the work that needs to be done, and I agreed to coach her.

Yesterday while discussing a thorny obstacle I reminded Sally that my job as her coach isn’t to get these guys to change their behavior. My job is to support her to so she can grow her skills, confront the problem and not feel compromised. Despite how much she (and other clients) want to credit me with “giving advice” my coaching provides a frame, resources and guidance, but the work is all hers.

This morning I watched a video talking about Ferguson and I thought of Sally because she clearly knows herself as the person who is obligated to address a problem. That’s worth more than solving the problem in my book.  Because she knows who she is.

Ferguson has been on my mind and tongue lately as it has with a lot of people. “What should be done?”, “What can be done?”, “Who should do it?”, “Where are the leaders?” – are all questions pinging around in “the national discussion.” The man in the video linked below eloquently reminded me this morning that in all situations we need to know who we are before we can know what to do.

Or recognize the fact that we are the ones who should do it. Watch and tell me what you think.

 What No One Wants to Say About Ferguson

photoVideo courtesy of PRINCE EA – Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince EA, is an American rapper, music video director and rights activist from St Louis, Missouri.