10 Negative Results of Believing People are Incapable
Wanting change – while thinking and acting the same – is frustrating futility.
Trying to change people is the greatest futility of all.
Coaching-leaders don’t change people, they have transformative conversations where people change themselves.
Shift toward engagement:
The most powerful shift coaching-leaders make is changing the way they think about people.
Stop focusing on lack. Begin focusing on capability.
Achieve engagement by focusing on what you have not what you don’t.
10 negative results of thinking people are incapable:
- Low expectations.
- Praise for marginal effort.
- Avoid conversations. “I don’t want to be bothered with them.”
- Provide less information. Incapable people don’t need information.
- Act with impatience.
- Interrupt while “incapable people” are talking.
- Supply less help. Why bother?
- Criticize more frequently.
- Give less feedback.
- Less smiling. More frowning.
(Adapted from, Coaching for Engagement.)
Engagement requires capability.
10 questions coaching-leaders ask capable people:
- What would you suggest?
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What have you already done to address this issue?
- How have your efforts worked so far?
- What would you like to try?
- What would you like to do next?
- Who might need to be involved?
- What can you do while you’re waiting?
- When can you take the next step?
- When will you be done?
Coaching-leaders instigate change. Change begins by thinking and then acting differently.
Try approaching teammates as capable.
If they aren’t capable you hired the wrong people.
Stressing and pressuring are unnecessary and counter-productive.
Become a coaching-leader by relaxing with people while holding high expectations. Tension indicates your inner fixer wants out of it’s cage.
What mental shifts facilitate movement toward coaching-leadership?
What changes when leaders approach people as capable contributors?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could energize people in the pursuit of excellence?
Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy the process?
I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore Bob Hancox and me coming to your organization to begin developing a coaching culture in your organization.
This post is inspired by, “Coaching for Engagement.”
Believing you can make a difference as well as others is a step in the right direction! If we don’t believe we are doomed for failure.
Thanks Tim. Exactly! The first belief is believing we can change something.
Dan, great advice as always, and I think this is a really good reminder that most of us, perhaps unintentionally, give up or typecast people far too early.
The question on the other side of this: What to do when the wrong people (or person) have been hired, but you’re not allowed to act to change that? And you’re still responsible for them.
I think this is less common, especially if leaders actually engage those around them, but still occurs.
Thanks James. I totally agree with our tendency to typecast people. This explains why people in our families may not be the ones who believe in our ability to radically change our lives.
Thanks for bringing up the concern of having people on the team you are “stuck” with.
I know it’s a great post when I am thinking, “I think I’ve done that. Have I said that? Wow, I have definitely thought that.” My favorite line is “If they aren’t capable you hired the wrong people. ” Thanks for the wake up call Dan!
Thanks Sarah. Isn’t it funny that leaders complain about the very people they hired? 🙂
What do u do if I am treating the people on my team like this but the person in management over me is not treating us this way? It sometimes feels like my efforts are being neutralised and our energy is zapped. This person is very unapproachable, jumps to conclusions and is difficult to communicate with. Can you suggest some steps?
Thanks Jay. You reminded me of a painful experience in my past. One day when I came home, my wife said, our family/home are more peaceful when you aren’t here. OUCH!! I’m not sure if you can be that direct with a manager.
When your manager brings their negativity, could you ask,
1. what are you trying to accomplish right now?
2. how can we bring the results you are trying to achieve right now?
3. how are you trying to help us right now?
4. how can we give you what you want?
5. how can I make you feel like I’m on your team?
Addressing a negative manager is a real challenge. I wish there was an easy answers. The fact that it might be difficult is one reason it’s valuable to work on it. Best wishes
Notice Dan that your 10 questions are what I call “positive” questions. They move people into the future rather than forcing people to defend themselves. Those types of questions are a great way to create engagement. Great stuff!!!
Thanks John. Love how you point out the way we might invite defensiveness in people through asking ineffective questions. Perhaps a hard question leaders could ask themselves is “how am I inviting people to defend themselves?” Ouch. 🙂
‘your inner fixer wants out of its cage.’ What a great image!! Thanks for that.
Thanks Bigal. I saw the image when I looked in my own heart. 🙂
4: Provide less information. Incapable people don’t need information.
I strive to help people to learn, all the time, with everything. I get beyond frustrated when I am told to not “waste my time” providing information, explanation and learning for my staff.
My first boss told me that one of his purposes was to get me to the point where if he suddenly disappeared, I could take on his role, and that for a while at least, everything could carry on seamlessly. I thought that was good advice. If I’m not there, who does what I have to do, and if I don’t help these people to grow, who will?
Thanks Mitch. Your first boss was pretty darn smart. Lesser leaders fear what he embraced.
Sorry, should have kept this in the previous post. I have a habit of doing those negative result things not with those I lead, but with those who are suppossed to lead me! The manager/leader who is not only not capable, but is almost proud that they are a duffer/amateur/dilletante! Suggestions on being more positive with “leaders” like this?!
Hey Mitch. What alternative do you have?
I’ve tried cheerleading them to become more professional/expert (as what we call an “informed user, not a hands-on expert), explaining the consequences to THEM of their attitudes, explaining the value added of doing so… Might just be me, but feels like talking to the stones in road!
mentals shifts such as asking open questions and connect with people, genuinely. What changed? I believe a lot. Something as giving input, contributing their own share to the work and respect for a leader.
Thanks Dennis. I appreciate you consistently sharing your insights.
Okay… But I love your blog posts a lot and so to the point + helpful!
Dan, I greatly respect the fact you mentioned that “staff members” are persons WE hired.” This means a lot. I do not believe we were wrong. We saw something in them. They demonstrated something in themselves that we wanted or needed that gave dimension to our organization.
They exhibited character qualities, personality attributes, and/or expertise that our leadership intuition and experience assessed and judged as worthy of coming aboard our staff.
What does all this mean now–in the refinement, critique stage of performance? Are they all of the sudden incapable? Or…merely in need of a tune-up…some inspiration…some leadership?
Positive reinforcement is critical in obtaining the maximum potential in people. If you don’t believe in your employees, there is no way they will believe in themselves.
Thanks Steven. I’ll never forget a leader who stood at the head of the table afraid that the team wasn’t good enough to get the job done. It was one of the most pathetic things I ever saw a leader do.
Hi Dan: Great blog. Thank you.
What mental shifts facilitate movement toward coaching-leadership? I think the mental shifts include being open to possibility, being curious, non-judging and asking questions instead of assuming and telling people what to do. When leaders are open and focused on the other person, they can disconnect from their attached outcomes (know the answers) and can be curious to discover the perspectives of others, thereby understanding them. With understanding comes learning and the opportunity to build a more constructive and effective relationship.
What changes when leaders approach people as capable contributors? When leaders are open to the perspectives of others, they are able to really listen to people and seek to understand their perspectives. I think there is a guarantee their perspectives will be different from those of the leader and as the leader messages this understanding they are also messaging they value the person and their contribution. This focuses the conversation on the positives as you have outlined above and helps the person feel they can be capable contributors.
Thanks Kathy. I appreciate your insights into the coaching-leader. The idea that being open to another’s perspective helps us listen is beautiful, simple, and profound.
I would add that when we continually “tell” people what to do rather than “ask” them insightful questions that allow them to think them through, we “dumb down” our workforce and they learn that we’ll provide all the answers. Great leaders build confidence and competence in others so that they can all excel together.
Unfortunately, Dan, that 1-10 list describes my next-level manager to a T when it comes to the perception of me and my own capabilities. I’ve worked for almost 13 years in my organization–a feat in itself considering the turnover rates–and have been quite successful with glowing reviews and earned respect…until this manager who was once my direct supervisor and now is my next-level. It’s crushing when someone treats you as though you’re incapable, restricts your potential for growth, and limits your responsibilities. When you’re on this side of the situation, how would you handle it? I could tell you stories that would make your toes curl and blood boil…