As generally happens whenever I use the Moose-on-the-Table approach (go to http://www.clemmer.net/excerpts/authentic_comm.shtml for an explanation), it generates lots of feedback and questions.
One reader asked, “How would you, or can you, change the leadership style of individuals who have come to believe that this is normal behavior?” Here’s my response:
The first and key part of any change is the wish to change. The individual that you may be trying to change needs to feel the need for change him or herself. Unfortunately, like unhealthy lifestyles that led to a serious health problem, most people only change leadership style to escape pain. So the challenge is to show that the pain or problems that person is experiencing could be improved by using a different approach.
The vicious cycle of denial or avoidance leading to ignoring the moose is what shuts down conversation about the problem. Some people will delude themselves into thinking there can’t be a Moose-on-the-Table because no one is talking about it. Finding a way to open the conversation about the moose and get everyone to acknowledge it’s there is the big challenge. That may involve biding your time and waiting until the pain is great enough, the problem becomes obvious enough, or receptivity seems to be opening up.
Organizational or team surveys can be a good way to see if others are seeing a moose. If so, you can then talk more reflectively or objectively about why those perceptions exist and what can be done to address the issues. That’s one of the reasons I developed a confidential on-line management team assessment tool (details are at www.clemmer.net/books/tldsurvey.shtml).
Regular reflection exercises (such as after meetings) or offsite retreats should include gathering everyone’s input to questions like what should our team keep doing, stop doing, and start doing. Make input open and safe (such as through an anonymous survey or third party run focus groups or personal interviews) to ensure all voices and perspectives are being heard.
Changing the leadership style of anyone is very difficult. I have not found any one formula that applies to everyone. Each situation is so different. Here are a few thoughts:
Another reader asked, “What if you think you are an ‘almost moose?'”
If you think you’re an “almost moose” and want to know whether others see you as a full moose, you need a safe process to allow people on your team to give you honest feedback on your behavior. That’s usually an anonymous process like a survey or interviews and/or focus groups facilitated by an objective third party consultant or expert. Soliciting this kind of unvarnished and open feedback is one of the most difficult and courageous things a leader can do in his or her personal growth.