I started a new role in August (moving from a practitioner interventionist role to a strategic interventionist role) and since then its felt like I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of learning and reflection.
I’ve learned to enjoy and love learning although i now know it never gets easier it just gets deeper and more powerful.
I could share so many things I’ve learnt but the last few weeks have provided the richness and yet some of the hardest and deepest lessons so far.
To provide some context earlier this year I learnt that some key factors influencing my psychological safety are; (1) feeling like I have autonomy over my work and the sense I have a choice and (2) a feeling that I can trust others and feel as if I am trusted.
These factors are important in helping me make sense of some of the lessons I’ve been fortunate to learn from.
In my previous role I held a couple of flawed assumptions that drove my behaviours (consciously and unconsciously);
(1) that the position I held in the team meant that I had an equal right to directly shape the direction of the team and;
(2) that our goal as a team was to become self managed and therefore needed no leader.
I hadn’t appreciated or acknowledged that these assumptions were having such an influence over my behaviour until experiencing and understanding what it felt like to be on the receiving end. Being able to take a different perspective and look back on my own behaviours through the lens of my line manager and the strategic role. In my previous role my assumptions created behaviours where I saw the relationship with my manager as transactional and in some ways optional and only reported in when I needed help.
In my new role all of this was flipped on its head as I started to see the relationship as purposeful, necessary and collaborative and centred around how I help her help the team (which I am part of)
And this was where the important lessons started to play out for me.
The more I connected to the reality of my managers world I could see how team behaviours that I had unintentionally contributed to were undermining my manager, working against our teams purpose and reduced, in fact removed the autonomy and trust I was seeking to feel safe and productive. All this because of the flawed assumptions I held, I could see I was actively working against what I needed.
This was initially hard to learn as I have a huge amount of respect and trust for my manager and learning through a new perspective that what I was doing was the opposite and unintentionally showed a lack of respect. This hit me quite hard. I could see that my behaviours and actions eroded the trust we had and removed the autonomy I was seeking. Again I was learning that I was actively working against what I was seeking.
My initial and immediate reactions were fuelled in shame – negative self talk, embarrassment and not feeling good enough.
I’m grateful for my practice of shame resilience as this helped me reframe the story I was making up and I shifted it into a space of guilt – focus on behaviour, personal responsibility and generosity.
The reframing took a while to conclude as I needed to speak it and share it openly with those I trusted and that happened in front of my manager and the majority of the team this week. The moment this happened I felt myself grow from it. I had confronted the barrier to achieving what I was seeking.
This allowed me to avoid a spiral of self doubt and shame and instead provided me with a rich lesson to learn from.
But this was only possible due to the realisation that I was actively working against what I actually needed and was seeking to feel safe. Shifting roles may have been a driver but the key to unlocking my learning was exploring my behaviour from a different perspective and seeing it through the eyes of those I work with and for. A space of empathy and compassion
What I can now see is that by supporting, helping and working with my manager and seeking clarity of role, clarity of expectation and clarity of direction and focus it creates and cultivates the trust and autonomy I’ve been seeking all this time.
I’m now feeling safe again and am enjoying the feeling of autonomy.
Are you doing anything that works directly against what you need?
How will you know?
Are you prepared to do what it takes to find out?