By Jim Coyle

Many leadership teams are simply missing the point. Often, they are too worried about offending others or too concerned about feelings to truly “love on” the other members of their team. Sometimes, showing a little bit of “tough love” by confronting issues and having difficult conversations really is the best solution, and will ultimately deepen the level of trust on your team. I have seen clients in leadership roles suffer from liking their team too much to really love them. Does this seem backwards? Let me tell you a story.

When we first begin implementing EOS® with a company, we join them for a Level 10 Meeting™ Review. We observe their meeting for 60 to 75 minutes, then jump in and give them feedback. In one of these reviews, the issue of “liking” your Leadership Team members too much and not “loving” them enough came up. 

“Jim, what do we do when we are concerned about another person’s Rock that they believe is on track?” the finance director asked.

“If you are in your Level 10 Meeting, simply drop it down to the IDS™ section as an issue,” I replied with a quizzical tone.

“Well, I wouldn’t do that. There’s no reason for me to call them out,” she replied.

I was about to get specific about which Rock she was talking about, but first wanted to make sure the whole team understood that it was the thought process that was broken here. This type of response will only lead to a weaker team.

“Sally, why do you think that there may be a concern?” I continued.

“Well, it could be that they are just not aware of the steps they need to take or that it is a bigger Rock than they think. It could be a few things,” Sally matter-of-factly stated.

“Oh, now I see,” I said, with a tinge of sarcasm. “You wouldn’t want to drop their Rock down to the Issues List and help them. That would be rude,” I said with a smile (and a little heavier on the sarcasm).

“Well …,” she paused. “I don’t want them thinking I don’t trust them.”

I decided to let her off the hook and addressed the whole team.

“My guess is that Sally is not the only person who has worried about this. Team, if someone isn’t getting their to-dos done or you are worried they are missing something with their Rocks, it may be time to get uncomfortable. This is how you can really help each other out. Please care enough about each other to have the conversations needed to help each other be great.”

We went on to talk about the specific Rock she was concerned about and parsed out ways we thought she could help this team member understand more fully how to truly get back on track. Ultimately, by the end of our review session, all members of the team agreed they would be open to having people care enough about them to “call them out” if needed.

This was a big turning point for this team and it made me realize that many times, we think that something must be bad if it will make people, or us, feel uncomfortable. Growth is uncomfortable. There is no way to truly grow without discomfort. Embrace being uncomfortable with your team, and see where it can take you.