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Professional Services Tech Leadership

Happiness is hard work

“You cannot buy or win happiness. You must choose it.” -John Maxwell

Humans, as I understand them, are hard wired to look for negativity. Just a few hundred generations ago, your grandparents spent their days scanning the horizon looking for threats while gathering berries. You know, like a saber-toothed tiger or something.

If fact, we actually got a dopamine hit when we spotted the threat we were expecting, which is interesting, isn’t it? Think about it: you’re out there in the field, and you catch a whiff of something that smells like a tiger. All of a sudden you get anxiety so you start looking around carefully, and there it is. You found the threat, and your body rewarded you for it. The anxiety turns into a real fear, and now it’s time to run to safety.

Survival has always been more important that happiness, so seeking happiness is not how we’re natively wired. Hunter gatherers were not concerned about aligning their chakras.

Even though it’s not in my nature or yours, if you have a team, especially in consulting, and you lead it, then it is incumbent upon you to make the team a happy, safe space where they can run from the saber toothed tigers in those corporate hallways. I don’t mean a party atmosphere. I mean optimistic, hopeful, positive, safe.

When your team is together, they should feel safe for the next time it’s time to go back and face the world “out there.” And then when they’re in the field, give them hope. Remind them that they make a difference and they can fight tiger if they need to.

When your team is working on code or doing hard analytical work, there’s something to be said for being just as negative as they are. It stimulates intellectual thinking. But when they’re back “home,” during the downtime, keep it happy and safe. It’s hard because you have to override your own natural circuitry even when you don’t feel like it. But your team needs it. You do too.

You’re human, so you’re not always going to be happy either. But remember, a single Slack positive message can make a huge difference in someone’s day, including yours.

Choose happiness leaders!

Categories
Management Tech Leadership

Are you micromanaging? How do you know?

Check your intentions – know who you’re talking to

The other day, I was telling someone that I really love to be a “hands on” kind of manager or leader.

The next question was, “well, that’s great but how do you know if you’re crossing the line from ‘hands on’ to micromanaging?”

That’s an insightful question. And I’m working up an email post for my subscribers on the topic this weekend, but here are some broad strokes.

First, check your intention before having a conversation that might cross that fine line from being really “hands on” to being really annoying. If you’re walking into a conversation from a mental place where you need something from someone or have an insecure need to control what a person is doing, this should be a red flag for you. The person receiving the communication will almost surely pick up on your subconscious feelings.

Second, you need to have done the hard work of really hearing and seeing the people on your team. That way you’ll know the subtle cues and the way that people like to be engaged. For example, understandably, a lot of software engineers don’t like being engaged when they’re deep in the code. Others are able to context switch more easily. So knowing them means you’ll know the right time to engage.

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