Leader A is new to the organisation. They are intent on building relationships, and being seen as being approachable and committed to the people.
They implement an “Open Door” policy – My door is open to you and I am available most of the time; feel free to come in and see me when I’m not with anyone.
Soon into their tenure, they start to experience people coming to see them to “share” some information about their colleagues or stakeholders, or things that have happened.
Being the open, responsive, relational leader, they listen, uttering the occasional “Oh gosh”, “That’s interesting”.
Soon, they have become the dumping ground. People go to them to tell-tales, blame, or moan about others, then finish the conversation with “Oh, but please don’t say anything”.
People go to them to have what Cy Wakeman would call a BMW (Bitch, Moan or Whinge) about someone else. This open-door policy, where drama is just dumped, actually fuels more drama. Most of the day is spent listening to, or dealing with other people’s dramas; strategy and vision development come second.
The thing is,
We teach people how to treat us.
One of your roles as a leader is to
Teach good mental processes.
If we ‘allow’ people to dump their drama on us, then that is what they will continue to do.
So if you find that, with the best of intent, you have created this for yourself, then here are a few tips to help you gently re-set some boundaries, and support them to reframe their thinking.
- Ask people to have done some thinking before they come to you. One key question you might ask them to consider to support them to rise to their higher-self is:
What do you know for sure?
Eg: “My team leader is a micro-manager. They want so much information, that it’s overwhelming”.
When we unpack the facts and reframe them from a mind-space of compassion, then it may sound something like:
“So your team leader likes to have more information than you are usually comfortable in giving”.
You see, some people are great at creating drama, living into it, then pulling others into their whirlpool.
We can spend so much time suffering from our stories, not the reality.
A leader’s role is to support people to reframe their thinking when needed.
2. When you hear negative comments, help them clean-up their language by reframing it. Eg: “They don’t pull their weight”, reframed to “So you’re concerned about your workload”. Or, “We got this dumped on us” reframed as “So you have some new information that you weren’t initially aware of.”
3. Finally, once you have listened, support them to move further towards compassion; “I appreciate you coming to me with your concern for your colleagues, I have one question to ask you “What did/can you do to help?”