The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

A sense of possibility

The team wasn’t reacting to the leader’s invitations to contribute. There were hardly any reactions and the leader seemed to feel more and more obliged to change the atmosphere by sharing how great things were, how important the work was, and how well people were doing.

The leader was reacting to the way the team engaged in what he perceived to be the task. He assumed that the team had a pessimistic approach and that by being optimistic and positive he could change the situation.

What he wasn’t considering was that the team might have been quite optimistic about the task and the project. And that they could be pessimistic when it came to the support and cooperation of the team.

He hadn’t realized how much of the work he had already started to do himself in reaction to his team’s behavior. And he also hadn’t realized how he had started to protect himself from his team’s reactions by trying to be more and more positive. He was denying his own reality as much as his team’s reality. His focus had shifted from finding ways to align with his team and verifying how they were following his lead to wanting to make sure the project would become a success.

By becoming overly positive, he had made it hard for himself and the team to keep a sense of possibility. What remained visible was the need to succeed and embedded in that need a fear of failure. The team didn’t feel supported anymore.

He had become attached to the result and in that move had let go of the team’s support.

Keeping a sense of possibility means knowing that failure might happen. But it also means that success is accessible. To liberate the team’s energy a sense of possibility is essential. It opens the path towards the possible where too much positivity only shows a cul-de-sac.


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