by Linda Feinholz · 0 comments

© 2008 Linda Feinholz.

Here’s an interesting fact…

According to one of today’s leading authorities on Attention Deficit Disorders, Tellman Knudsen, if you have ADD, you have been programmed since birth to actually NOT be able to do something you really need to do to succeed in life…

The thing you have been programmed not to be able to do is to participate effectively with others.

As I read his work, it struck me that the same programming that helps someone with ADD increase their productivity, are the very beliefs that all people need for success in teams. And you may not hold those beliefs.

Don’t believe me?

Tell me, how often have you ever heard,

“We all have to clean up after ourselves?”


“You have to carry your own weight?”

or… The all-time winner:

“If you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself”?

If you heard those sentences, or ones similar to them, repeatedly then you have been programmed.

You’ve been programmed with beliefs so that you won’t let yourself draw on the power of the ‘teams’ around you. Those teams include your peers, your vendors, your clients, your mentors, and so on.

The programming affects your productivity on two fronts. Not only is it diverting you from learning how to delegate things you really don’t need to be doing, but it is also stopping you from having the time you need to do the things you really WANT to be doing!

And a single belief can derail an entire team.

My client, Charles, is the president of an international organization. He wants his team of managers to show up as better teammates to each other, and as better leaders of their company. He needs them to step up and take on management of their business so that he can focus on strategic issues in their marketplace.

He keeps waiting for them to raise important high-risk issues for discussion. And he wants each of the managers to offer input, insights and innovative thinking on each issue. And he watches to see if anyone will fight for what they believe is the right solution to problems the company is facing.

The problem is he’s been programming his senior management team to avoid the very behaviors he wants to see. Charles happens to believe that ‘Challenging is the best way to encourage people to show their capabilities.”

Because of that belief, rather than setting up the team for success he’s been making some key mistakes:

Letting the group ‘figure out’ how to be a team for themselves.

Charles believes starting topics and letting them roll from there helps his people gel as a team. Although his managers work together well outside of his all-hands meeting, when they walk in the door for his monthly meeting they don’t know the purpose of their time together. Is it to have the team think about the topic? To identify breakdowns? To figure out lessons to be learned? To suggest improvements that can be made?

So, they comment and quibble and jockey for position and approval like siblings around the dinner table.

Every ‘miss’ is a mistake

There is no standard for evaluating the impact when a manager’s results when they don’t meet the plan. Charles’s tone of voice is so critical that people shut down. Hoping to please him by copying the behavior they see, and in the hopes he won’t do the same to them that week, everyone else picks joins in the criticism and fault-finding.

As a result, the behavior in his management meeting is often like a college hazing.

Chasing bright shiny objects

Charles gives equal value to any remark made during the discussions. When his managers discuss one topic, their conversation ranges all over the place. Any comment can be inserted into the discussion, even when it’s off-topic. Meetings often last 10 or more hours and the team seldom comes to conclusions or decisions about next steps.

As you can probably guess, Charles keeps waiting for people to take responsibility, offer suggestions and step up… while his managers are often trying to stay ‘unnoticed.’ The managers keep waiting to be lead, to have conversations organized towards a purpose and to be given priorities for the hours they’ll spend together.

We’re going to work at changing Charles’ programming and management style so his folks in turn can get UN-programmed and come prepared, hold business-matter-of-fact discussions and build a high payoff management team.

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