Three Leadership Tips for Navigating Interpersonal and Team Dynamics

During the past few weeks I have had numerous discussions about team dynamics, interpersonal issues among colleagues and team leadership. Part of these conversations stem from my upcoming 12-week maternity leave and planning client coverage. Another driver of the conversations has been a presentation on crisis and issues management that I have been asked to give this upcoming weekend for a Young Living essential oil convention, organized by the Lemon Dropper team (my sister-in-law is one of the primary event organizers). When I was asked to speak about navigating issues and “crisis” situations among teams at the essential oil business conference, I’ll admit that I was nervous. I felt unqualified and wondered what I could offer these small team/business owners – most of whom work from home for their oil business. Yet as I dug through old crisis plans for GFM clients large and small, I realized just how similar team dynamics, and issues management among team members, can be to companies of a much larger scale. As I prepare to speak to more than 100 savvy marketers, many self-taught, next weekend I thought I’d share the advice I plan to offer to these team leaders. Whether you oversee a department of hundreds or manage a small handful of colleagues virtually from home, I believe professional, interpersonal dynamics can only thrive when certain expectations are set and respected by everyone.
  1. Unplug for the tough stuff: We are all tethered, to a fault, to electronic forms of communication. Emails and texts become a crutch and when issues arise, it is incredibly easy to hide behind electronics rather than deal with uncomfortable conversations head-on. Furthermore, tone and intention of email and text can be wildly misunderstood, leading to anger, hurt feelings or resentment. Challenge yourself, and believe me, it is a challenge, to pick up the phone or walk across the office (or set up a coffee meeting) to have those difficult conversations live.
  2. Set boundaries: Some people do better than others with boundary-setting. What boundaries am I talking about? It can vary but in the spirit of team dynamics and interpersonal issues, I’m primarily talking about things like friendships outside of the office, expectations on how to reach one another after hours or on weekends and the formality of communications.
  3. Adapt your communications style: Full disclosure. I naturally lean toward being what Emergenetics defines as inflexible. Change, especially at the 11th hour, throws me for a loop and I can sometimes have a hard time changing course without experiencing a lot of stress. My strongest leaders and mentors know this about me and adapt how they ask me to pivot and try their best to offer the support I need in order to quickly process change and then make it happen. Adapting to my needs may be frustrating for them at times, but it’s the mark of an empathetic leader and in the long-run, I’m a better employee because of it. I now do the same for the team members I lead and urge others to do the same. If someone isn’t meeting your expectations, do not necessarily jump to conclusions about their work style or work ethic. First, ask yourself if you are meeting them halfway—a place where they can hear, process and thrive under your leadership. If you are unsure of their learning and communication style…talk to them (see #1 above)!
I am honored and excited to present to the Lemon Dropper entrepreneurs this weekend and know I will learn even more from them that can be brought back to GFM and our day-to-day internal and client-facing dynamics. Leadership, as a skill, should evolve every single day.