Once upon a time … there was a manager who was always angry. Everyone was afraid of him! When he came running up and down the department screaming, his employees trembled behind their computer screens and hardly dared to respond to his questions or complaints. There was constant tension in the office and every employee kept an eye on the door, anxiously waiting for it to open again.
Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Unfortunately, this was the bitter reality for the employees of one of the International organisations in Brussels. With the help of Transactional Analysis (TA) I was allowed to give this supervisor two valuable insights through which he could experience the magic of coaching leadership. In this blog I want to share those insights with you.
Unexpected help request
I became involved as a coach in this organization through the manager. You may find that surprising, but I can explain. The manager, Andrew, was not satisfied with his employees. They all worked below par, while they all had a good salary. He was confused. They offered nothing, the creativity was gone and suddenly they had no good ideas. He was so angry that I was shocked! Red-faced, he sat opposite me at the table. The coaching question I got from Andrew was: ‘How can I get them started?’
Insight 1: You maintain a vicious circle
How would you feel if you were an employee in this department? Andrew’s employees felt unsafe when he was around. In an unsafe situation, you retire to your shell and make yourself small. This happened literally, because employees crawled behind their screens, but also figuratively. If you are afraid, you cannot come up with new ideas and your creativity will be locked. Logical, right?
For Andrew, this was an important insight. He didn’t realize the impact of his behaviour and how he maintained a vicious circle. The harder he shouted, the more afraid his employees were and the more angry he became because they didn’t function.
Insight 2: The reason behind the anger
Maybe it was even more important for Andrew to discover and admit where his behaviour was coming from. Why was he always so angry?During our conversation it became clear that he thinks his work is extremely important. He really wanted to deliver a good quality product and it had to be good. He was afraid that this would not be okay. His perfectionism got in his way and he felt helpless because he couldn’t change the situation. His employees didn’t perform and he could see his assignment failing completely. He was afraid of that. The only way he could express this fear was to scream very loudly. It was a relief for him to experience how it could be different.
Coaching leadership with TA
In TA we know the Ego States model. We can use this model to understand Andrew’s story. Very briefly, this model means that you can communicate from 5 ego states: The Free and Adjusted Child, the Critical and Feeding Parent and the Adult. If you want to know more about this, then check this blog: ‘How do you find the Pippi Longstocking in yourself?’ In this blog the theory of the Ego States is explained in more detail.
Back to Andrew and his employees. Andrew communicated clearly from his Critical Parent. Through his behaviour he invited his staff to respond as their Adjusted Child.
Now that Andrew is aware of his behaviour and the impact it has on his employees, he can learn to communicate in a different way. He can explain from his Adult why this product is so important to him and that he is sacred it may fail. From that position it is no longer difficult for Andrew to ask his employees for their cooperation, rather than screaming for it.
By communicating with his employees in a respectful way, he brings out the best in them and they can let their creativity and good ideas flow again. The situation is completely solved. It looks like magic!
Do you also want to experience the ‘magic’ of TA?
Soon there will be another two-day TA introduction. During this course
- you learn how to criticise and receive compliments
- you discover how your own patterns work
- you learn to understand the impact your behaviour has on others
- you learn about options and opportunities to communicate differently with your team and in daily life.
By learning to communicate differently, you can also experience the ‘magic’ of coaching leadership with TA. That really isn’t a fairy tale.