In the last few weeks, many of you have had a unique opportunity to interact with your co-workers…the office Christmas party. Here, we get to celebrate the year, have fun together, enjoy the company with whom we spend most of our waking hours…our coworkers, and often meet their significant others.
Since I have the blessing to often be the “fly on the wall” in offices, I have taken to paying attention to the talk before and after office Christmas parties. My position as a contractor, brought in from outside the team to do this or that, gives me a unique vantage point. There’s always the usual talk about the venue, menu, attendance, and the fun of meeting spouses. There’s also the discussion of teammates that I call the “Jekyll & Hyde” conversations. They sound like…
“Can you believe how so and so let his hair down?”
“I never knew she could actually smile!”
“Wow, he’s like a really nice guy outside of here.”
“Oh man, I got stuck sitting next to the her, but we ended up having the really neat conversation…did you know that she…?”
These conversations are of special interest to me when I know that they are referring to the team leader. So,…
How do you show up at the office Christmas party? Are you a LEADER, or a BOSS?
A Leader is recognized as the same person at the Christmas party as any other day.
A Leader is characterized as someone whom the team can trust. Why? Because they understand you. They see you being reasonable and valuing them and their contribution to the team. This person doesn’t have to put on a mask (or take one off) to have fun and enjoy a party. The party can be about having fun as a team celebrating the year, vice looking around bug-eyed going, “whoa, what’s going on?!?!”
On the contrary, a Boss is completely different at the Christmas party. For example, the normally
- Stuffy, now a bit too relaxed boss.
- All-business, that all the sudden cares about my family?!?!
- Reliant on the mantle of authority or control, now wants to be friends.
- or any of these the other way round.
These all come across as disingenuous. The team knows better than to believe the line. The inconsistency in how the Team Leader comes across to the team is a trust killer for the project.
What’s the big deal?
As you can see, a Team Leader’s reputation is built not at the party, but tested at the party based on all those other days before and after.
Your team needs to know who you are and trust you for you to lead them. That means having a consistent character that guides your life, no masks. When the team understands you and what they can expect from you, it builds trust. Trust is the foundation upon which a team can grow. Without it, a team flounders.
Are you putting on a mask to show up differently for the “sake of the season” of goodwill?
This is killing the team trust and research says that psychological safety on a team is the biggest indicator of team success (not ability, planning, or budget!). But how? It requires a change of heart. A change of character.
Take off the mask as a Team Leader. Even if it shows that you are stuffy, all-business, and relying on your position for power. Being honest and open is the first step. Then you can work on enabling joy in work, the mission of a servant leader. When we are serving leaders, we truly put our energy into enabling joy all year long, then we don’t need to take off any mask and we can be the same person at the party as we are everyday, in the office and at home.
We at eNthusaProve want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Team Leaders! You have an important role to guide your teams to create new things, and we hope to further equip you to enable joy in your work.
We pray that this season is “the most wonderful time of the year” as you help your team build and repair those necessary connections you’ll need to enter the new year ready to create and contribute value…not just to the bottom line, but to the lives of each member of your team.