When a team appears to be stumbling in darkness, there may, yes, be too little leadership illumination. Or there may be too much.... It is also possible for a team to be blinded by the light of its leader.
As we approach the second full moon of March -- and the second "blue moon" of 2018 -- let us consider the moon's "light" as a metaphor for leadership boundaries.
If you saw the moon as your long-ago ancestors did, you would "know" that it shone with its own light. Way before we humans knew that the moon only reflects the sun's light, we were certain that she had a light of her own. So, remember what your 10-times-10-times-great-grandfather knew about the moon...or just pretend for a minute that it's true.
A "New Moon Manager" shares none of his light. In fact, his light is all but extinguished by the darkness that surrounds it. He's just a dark grey disk against a darker grey sky. The division between him and not-him is virtually erased and there is no there, there. New Moon Managers agree with everyone and say yes to everything. New Moon Managers can't provide clear direction because everything is approved, allowed, considered with equal value, swirling in a cauldron of ideas and plans that can't gel in the darkness. These managers may, in the end, get something done, but it will largely be by their own efforts. The New Moon Manager's team will be wandering in the dark, trying to see where he is going and just keep up.
Ah, but the "Full Moon Manager" can be just as unproductive. She shares so much of her light -- her thoughts, ideas, critiques, and concerns -- that she over-shines the night sky around her. Her light extends beyond the edges of her self, replacing or hiding what is not-her. Full Moon Managers speak first and often, talk the most, and rarely yield the floor. Opportunities for team input are brief and highly-structured, which minimizes and controls content. Full Moon Managers are full of explanations for why good ideas can't be used, affirmed without question by her knowledge and experience. These managers' teams tend to get less done, too, but team members are standing around, arms akimbo, watching the Full Moon Manager shine on.
The second of the 7 Facets of Team Success is Independence, best represented by the three-quarter Moon. Individual Independence -- what psychologists call our boundares, or the edges of who we are -- is gained (or not) at about age two. Individual Independence, a couple of decades later, enables professional boundaries, too.
The three-quarter, or Gibbous Moon is the perfect image of just enough light -- just enough me -- allowing a mix of just enough not-me darkness. Gibbous Moon Managers, with their healthy interpersonal boundaries, bring enough light to lead their teams, without overshining them. They listen and hear input, critique, and questions. They engage in dialog that is authentic, and they are open to learning. These managers and their teams are highly productive, especially when Independence is intentionally cultivated as a team asset.
We must pay attention to the edges of leadership's light. How strong is the light of the Manager's "me?" How well does she engage with the space beyond herself? How does he interact with the night sky of others thoughts, ideas, and interests, outside himself?
Video of my TEDx talk, "Never Lost Forever," about the lost art of dreaming the big dreams in life, will be availalbe for viewing within the next week or two!