The host of our meeting was a kind person, she was trying to do everything as well as she could. Leading the meeting she found herself torn between her care for the participants and her desire to create a useful outcome for everyone.
It showed in the way she created the space to answer everyone’s questions and was trying to serve everyone according to the needs they were expressing. Thanking everyone for their input, valuing the ideas shared, as well as explaining things with patience was her way to care and lead.
However, when participants started to ask questions which could have been slightly out of scope her reaction was shifting. She searched for ways to control the input and limit it. She stepped in describing what she had done as well as how these ideas would be addressed by others. In this, she was seeking to protect participants from stepping into unchartered territory. That is one where they might find themselves disappointed whenever things wouldn’t work out. She was feeling responsible for them and the experience they would have. Her fear that she would not be able to attend to their needs in these cases reinforced her desire to protect them.
It impacted my experience as a participant. As someone who likes to contribute ideas, I felt stuck in a space that was too small for me. With the options, I was seeing the way I could contribute had been reduced to one of following simple instructions.
Independently from how well-intentioned she was to share information and have everyone contributing, her leadership was preventing participants from developing their agency and helping her achieve the goal she had set out to achieve.
Her fear to lose control of the situation and not being able to care for the participants was backfiring on her. She had lost the balance between care and protection she needed herself.
Most of the questions appearing led to her effort to explain how she had already attended to this task. Answering like this was how she verified for herself that she not missed anything. Which meant that she wasn’t sure she had prepared everything well enough. With this insecurity, her explanation served her own protection. It had become a defense mechanism.
Growing busy with her need to make sure that she had done everything right, she was losing energy as well as her ability to lead and make decisions.
At the same time, she was anxious about pushing back too much. She sought to make sure that everyone was happy with her and cared for the participants by trying to adapt to all of their needs. Based on her reduced energy, taking in all the ideas and input she was hearing contributed to her confusion. She was experiencing information overload. It made it impossible for her to think about the task at hand. Thus she couldn’t share a perspective with us telling us how we could contribute beyond the simple tasks she had described.
By focusing on trying to do the right thing, she wasn’t paying attention to herself.
By becoming more self-aware she would have been able to see some of the cues and chose a different path. One that would have been more adapted to the team she was leading.