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Why Your Team Will Never Think or Act Like You

Why Your Team Will Never Think or Act Like You

You are the leader, you think and act differently than your team, stop expecting or wanting them to think like you.

Many leaders I have worked with have a common complaint: their team doesn’t look at or even get the big picture. They are not committed, and are not flexible in their role.

The fact is most of your team members want to do a good job at their specific tasks to help the team move forward in reaching the team’s goal. They also want to cover their ass and leave work on time. As a leader, you can be ok with this because they are filling their responsibility to move the team forward.

Shawn Stratton

© Steven Depolo

They are also not stressing about concerns and needs not related to their responsibility or laying around on vacation thinking about new initiatives to implement in the organization or how they are going to make payroll on Friday or how to reinvest last year’s profits.

As a leader, this can be frustrating at times because you just want to shout ‘Don’t you get it? Don’t you care?’ But their job is not to “get or care about everything” going on in the team and department/organization. That is your job. You are the one to connect the dots. You are the leader.

Shawn Stratton

© Maia Valenzuela

As a leader, I often feel I need eyes in the back of my head so I can see absolutely everything that is going on in my team when I am stress about a particular aspect of a project.

I found myself in this predicament when I founded and directed a community triathlon for many years. For the most part, I had a great team working with me but I am pretty sure every year as the race date came near I was the only one the committee experiencing sleepless nights thinking about every logistical detail that needed to be in place, from the toilet paper for the porta potty to the water temperature to the ketchup needed for the BBQ to the angree email from an athlete or sponsor.

At times, it would have been nice to know everyone else was experiencing these sleepless nights as well (misery loves company) but the reality is they probably didn’t because they

  1. Had their specific responsibilities under control, or
  2. Their ‘care’ factor was not as high as mine so they slept well.

“As a leader, no one should ‘care’ more than you.”

Leaders are usually a little taken aback when I help them realize much of the issue is not with the team but with them as a leader. You see wearing the leader’s hat (boss, CEO, chief, etc.) you have more responsibility, hence giving you a much different perspective on your team’s (organization’s, club’s, company’s, etc.) mission and how it needs to be achieved.

As much as you try, there is only one person that can have this perspective and that is YOU, the leader. You are the only one responsible for everything. Everyone else is just responsible for their thing and that is what they are focused on.

Leaders get frustrated when their team members can’t see the big picture or are not flexible in taking the initiative to help in other areas.

You are the boss and they are not. They are concerned about getting their job done and covering their ass. You are concerned about everyone and everything involved with your team.

Stop wanting them to think and act like you and start giving them the leadership they need by providing the environment for them to excel in their role. How do you provide that environment? YOU ASK THEM.

“What do you need from me to be successful on this team?”

You can expect to get many answers and your job as a leader is to accommodate each and every (reasonable) one the best way you can.

Some will say I need flexibility in my role or I need clear and explicit expectations for my role or I like to be aware of the big picture or I need a clearer sense of purpose for what we are doing or I need more feedback on my work, etc.

(Don’t Make the Mistake of Treating your Team Members This Way)

You need to accommodate these needs within your team while focusing on your team goals and mission.

Without having the overarching responsibilities you have as a leader, your team members will never think and act like you. Focus on meeting their needs so they can best use their skills and experience to accomplish extraordinary results to move the team closer to reaching its full potential.

On a team, people don’t just need to know the why. They need a clear reason to care about the why.

Action: In the next week ask each team member “What do you need from me to be successful on this team?”

Until next week… Embrace the Adventure!


Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author, Ironman competitor, and expedition guide.

Click here to learn more about how Shawn can help your organization.