The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Shifting roles

Jane shared how frustrated she was, that the other team wasn’t taking up the work as she expected. She had just taken a call from a client that felt urgent to her and our conversation was uncovering that she didn’t trust that it would be handled well by the other team.

In the past, Jane had had the responsibility to react to such calls but now she had stepped into a leadership role that had not existed in the past. She was trying to develop her role and was at the same time nervous about the way the new structure was disrupting existing customer relationships.

From the perspective of the other team, the situation had a different outlook. They felt undervalued and controlled.

Looking closer at the situation a valid hypothesis is, that Jane is struggling with taking up the authority of her new role. To compensate for the resulting anxieties she has been going back to her habit of micro-management to feel in control of the situation. It worked in her past role and served her and the organization well then. Her new role, however, demanded new skills from her as well as comfort with sharing responsibility.

Helping Jane thus meant learning more about how she relates to authority and can take it up. We’ve all grown up with our authority figures and have learned what worked well in the relationship with them and what not. This learning stays with people and shapes patterns in their behavior, to an extent that they become unaware of them. Shifting into a new role is a moment in time allowing to see these patterns reemerge as internal or external conflicts.

Asking someone to change their behavior will often leave these patterns as is. Helping people to see these patterns and how they feel about them, creates more space for sustainable change. It’s the result of being able to give a new meaning to the feeling. It may still be uncomfortable, but for a known reason.



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