How to Rise Above Fault Finding and Energize Your Team
You don’t think of yourself as a fault-finder, but what if you track your thoughts and language for an hour?
What’s your attitude about others right now? Yourself?
Fault-finders build insecure teams.
You’re a fault-finder if:
- You make emotional decisions and look for confirming evidence.
- You’re afraid to speak your mind.
- You can’t let mistakes go.
- You haven’t changed your mind in recent memory. Fault-finders carry the burden of being right.
- People adapt to you. You don’t adapt to others.
- Others apologize to you but you can’t remember the last time you apologized.
- Worry and fear drive your behaviors. Worriers complain. The fearful find fault.
- You don’t seek feedback but you love giving feedback.
- You have position and rank. Power is permission to find fault.
- You have a loud inner critic.
Two ways to rise above fault-finding and energize your team:
Fault-finders tear down. Skillful leaders build up.
#1. Develop a secret team of encouragers.
- Choose two team members to join you on a secret mission to encourage people.
- Target one teammate a day to encourage.
- Discuss your target’s strengths.
- Craft language that strengthens and energizes your target.
- Execute today and evaluate tomorrow.
- Choose your next target for hit-and-run encouragement.
- Develop a secret society of encouragers in large organizations.
Tip: Make this informal. It’s a secret mission. Don’t all show up together.
#2. Choose flexibility.
Rigid leaders are fault-finders.
- Be rigid when it comes to ethics, excellence, and relationship building.
- Be flexible when it comes to methods. “How would you like to proceed?”
- Focus on the big picture. Where are you going? Make room for others to figure out how to get there.
Questions flexible leaders ask:
- How might I make this project go more smoothly for you?
- How am I making things more difficult?
- How might I adapt to your style?
If everything has to be your way, you’re a fault-finder.
How might leaders find-fault less and energize more?
What’s your ratio? Track the number of positive/encouraging comments you make in a day versus the number of negative complaining comments you make.
My informal, unscientific study says that to be an effective leader your ratio needs to be at least 7-1.
Thanks Paul. Powerful and challenging. Some leaders may say they like challenges, but your challenge is one of the toughest for leaders.
This resonates very strongly. We had a conversation this morning, and we decided on a similar “secret mission”.
The one you describe here, to energize and encourage, is probably a stretch goal at the moment. We are looking to support and protect to prevent anybody going off the rails due to unremitting pressure and criticism. Once we have stabilised the situation, we now have a clear next step, that can help us build a team that can resist better in the long-term. I’ll be printing this one off for future use.
What a powerful illustration. The way you’re applying this is so practical.
Look for people on the team who are facing new challenges. How might a team of encouragers fuel their progress?
The application to a specific situations is so useful.
Over the years I’ve learned to be flexible, makes life simpler, rigidity happens as mentioned on ethics and values.
Clients like to be heard with flexibility in solutions, on the other side there are clients who want rigidity by choice.
Thanks Tim. I couldn’t help but think of the rigidity of technical solutions. You can’t be flexible on some principles and expect to get the job done.
So glad you stopped in.
An interesting & thought-provoking post!
The best way to remain fault less and energize the team is to believe in them and build the members as part of a winning team.
I believe that an effective leader encourages the team members to express themselves by way of a story telling while reviewing their periodic performance. It would highlight the positive aspects of their fruitful efforts in fetching the desired results and the specific areas of concern to be taken by them in future. The story talks can end with what better things they expect from their leader.
Thanks Dr. Asher. Brilliant approach. Believe in the people around you. If you can’t, get a new team or move on.
Thought provoking for sure! The fault finder leader does not allow for their employees to feel seen or heard. When there is an absence of feeling seen or heard, that person’s existence within the organization is immediately put into question – insert insecurity!
To rise above takes being extremely intentional with behaviors and language and a willingness to self reflect. I see the ultimate outcome being a culture that cares for one another – cares that everyone is seen and heard on great days and on rough days.
Wow! Thanks Jeannie. I respect your clarity and approach. It’s pretty hard to build a culture where people feel seen and heard and be a fault-finder at the same time.
I manage a team of about 30 and I’m really enjoying your emails; however, I’m having a hard time digesting all of them and implementing all of the excellent content you are sending me. It’s too much good information!!! What is your recommendation for implementing all of the tools and content with our teams so that it sticks and actually works? I send weekly leadership emails to all of my team members but there is too much for us to work on and I’m overwhelmed! What a great thing to be overwhelmed by 🙂
Your help would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Geoff. Thanks so much for your comment and question.
I would suggest you pick one or two things and forget the rest. I like to offer lots of practical suggestions, but I don’t think anyone or any team could implement them all.
I write frequently just to keep leadership on the front burner in our minds.
Thanks again and best for the journey.
Feedback seems to focus on the past on things we cannot change that we did wrong, so it comes across negative. Marshall Goldsmith in his book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” introduces FeedForward. If feedback is past, feedforward comes in the form of ideas you can put into practice in the future about how to make something better. Feedforward feels more positive.
Thanks Duane. Yes, Feedforward is a great paradigm shift. Be forward-facing!
I can see where this helps us rise above being a fault-finder so we can be leadership-builders.
Could you elaborate more on the “You’re a fault finder if – you’re afraid to speak your mind.” Is it that someone is silently finding fault and setting expectations for others based on that? Thanks.
Thanks for your question Jerrel. The thought behind that is if we’re afraid to speak up we will likely complain or criticize behind people’s backs.
Of course some people who speak up ARE fault-finders. But, I’ve noticed that those who don’t speak up sometimes end up complaining to others.
Does that make sense?
Fault finding is an undeveloped emotional intelligence. It’s still the child within relating to others in a parent child relationship. Learning to see others as responsible professional adult and not children might help.