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Leadership Lesson

What if you were your team’s biggest problem?

A fascinating coffee shop conversation:

An expressive canvas painting of a conversation between two male colleagues at a coffee shop

What if you were your team’s biggest problem? How will you even know? Let alone fix it.

My friend and I were talking about what it means to lead a team. He runs a hands-on small business, and I do CxO on Tap consulting, usually working with CEOs and Founders on boring stuff like “business transformations”.

My friend talked about his challenges with his team and how he could improve the performance of his employees and his business. His team was talented and hard-working, but they weren’t meeting their company’s goals or delivering the high-quality work he expected.

We talked about all sorts of things he could do differently. He could change their workflow and different tasks, give them new tools, fire some, hire more people with expertise in specific areas, delegate more responsibilities to them and so on…

Then at one point, I heard myself blurting loudly – “Hey, What if YOU are your team’s biggest problem right now? Then how would you fix yourself?”

My friend was shocked at my brutality. I was stunned myself that I said that.

He immediately replied, “nothing”. Then there was radio silence on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Both of us said nothing—dead silence.

Then he got up and shook hands, left the meeting as suddenly as possible. He said, “Thank you so much… that last question …wow! … it was a killer. I don’t know why I didn’t ask myself all along…. I will call you back as soon as I crack this… thanks a bunch”, and he just left.

What would you do? Did it ever happen to you? What if you were your team’s biggest problem? How will you even know?

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