How to Create a Drama-Free Team

Today's post is a guest post written by Dennis McIntee, a trainer and consultant who works with leaders to uncover constraints and build roadmaps for growth to increase their bottom-line performance. Dennis' new book, The 8 Qualities of Drama Free Teams, is FREE on Kindle this weekend only! Click here to grab it now.

As a leader, one of your chief responsibilities is creating culture within your organization; and it’s the culture you create that will determine the results you enjoy. 

Oranges grow in Florida and apples in Michigan.  Why?  Each environment grows specific fruit.  It works the same with your team.  The fruit your organization grows depends upon the culture you create.

You Teach What You Know But Produce Who You Are

People see you before they hear you.  I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, “Actions speak louder than words.”  While some may teach great principles and develop fantastic systems, if people do not see you act in line with those ideals, those policies are worthless.  Your team is similar to a family.  I teach my children what I know, but at the end of the day, they tell you a lot about me.  I produce who I am.

One of God’s natural laws states that you reproduce after your own kind.  Orange trees do not produce apples.  That’s foolish.  But how often do we as leaders expect different behavior from our team than we do from ourselves.  When you ask your team to do what you’re unwilling to do yourself, it’s like asking for apples in an orange grove.  It’s simply ridiculous. The game your organization is playing is “Follow The Leader” not “Simon Says”.  

Never Complain About What You Permit

Whatever is in your team, first ask yourself, “Is it in me?”  Your team can become a mirror into your own heart.  Just as my children are an image of my wife and I, your team is a reflection of you. One of my favorite statements I share with leaders is, “You are ridiculously in charge.”  Not only of your organization or team, but even more important, you are in charge of your behavior.  It’s your behavior that determines your results, not outside circumstances.  If I don’t like what I see, I have to change me.   

If you chose to play the role of a victim or blamer, more than likely, drama will permeate your organization.  To create a drama-free team, you first have to become drama-free yourself.  Own your behavior and own your results.  As a team member, if I notice you making excuses, it gives me the freedom to do the same.  Maybe you’re not a victim, but you fall into the other ditch: you’re the rescuer.

“Dennis, you don’t understand, I’m the problem solver.  If my people have a problem, they bring it to me and I solve it.  As the leader of this company that’s my responsibility.”  Steve was adamant that as CEO, he was the chief problem solver.  This had been his framework for over twenty years.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t see that this mindset was hindering the growth of his organization.

Here’s the constraint that occurs when you take the position of chief problem solver: if all you ever do is solve my problems, the only thing I will bring to you are problems.  As a problem solver you end up rescuing me.  You solve my issue and save the day.  The consequence of this behavior is that you actually create a team full of victims. 

By solving my problem, you’re unknowingly saying, “Oh poor Dennis, he can’t solve his own problem.  I’m going to rescue him and tell him what to do.”  This is the key reason why I see so many co-dependent relationships within teams.  You teach them to come to you and you will fix their issue.  Taken to the extreme, your organization revolves around you.  This type of leadership actually hinders the growth of your team.  Instead of just announcing solutions to your team, train them to solve their own problems.  To create problem solvers, here’s the question I teach leaders to use:

“What are you going to do about that problem you have?”

It’s a big question.  Especially for people that are used to having you solve all their problems.  This question becomes a game changer for your company, if you can utilize it.  Here are two reasons why I love this question:

1.  It assumes you believe your team members are powerful enough to solve their own problems.

If I step in to save the day, I actually see you as a victim.  If I believe you are a victim, I’m going to try to fix your situation.  When we view people as victims, they will act like victims.  But if I see you as a powerful person, I’ll give you the power to create a solution.  People tend to rise to our expectations of them.

2.  It directs people out of the drama of victim mentality.

It puts the responsibility for solutions with the team member not the leader.  If you’re not careful, different team members will try to make their problems, your problems.  Many times I have to remind leaders, “This is not your circus, it’s not your monkey.”  Don’t let this happen to you.  As a leader your job is to grow and train your team to solve their own problems.

Creating a drama-free team first begins with you.  Own your behavior and teach your team to do the same.

You can do it.

What can you do today to begin reducing drama within your team?