I do find it interesting that various aspects of individuals personal behaviour ‘leak out’ of them at unusual times.
We were working with a group of engineers who were 2 halves of the same team. One half of the team worked ‘over here’ and the other half worked ‘over there’. They rarely met up, although their bosses did meet frequently. The team leader of the ‘over here’ group had been identified as someone who needed some help with his interpersonal style. Indeed, on reflection, it was felt that the entire team would benefit from a little work.
We ran a short programme and number of issues were identified that the team needed to work on. They agreed, at the end of the programme, as to who was going to drive which piece of the jigsaw back at work, whom they might enlist to assist, when they would have it done by and the like.
We then met up with these guys about 6 weeks after the event to run a follow up workshop and stay overnight. At the dinner that evening i was talking with a chap who had clearly been reflecting upon what he had learnt during the programme we ran, but also what he had observed in others. He was speaking about the team leader who had recently announced that he was moving on from the business. He was saying that a lot of what he had spotted the team leader doing during the programme we had ran, was actually the same as the way in which he had seen him play sport.
During the programme we ran this guy had been aware that the team leader tended to keep information to himself. He did not try to include others in his decison making, he chose who he would involve and who he would leave out. He was not good at making use of others, who might just have a better view of the issue to him, or who might actually be in a better ;position to do something.
The chap I was talking with was able to relate all of this to the way he had seen the team leader play a game of hockey! Not all that long before we had ran the programme, the works social club had arranged a hockey tour. The team leader had signed up for it, having played in his days at University. All the ‘unhelpful’ behaviours the team leader had shown during the programme with us, were exactly the same as he had shown on the hockey tour. When he had the ball, he wanted to hang onto it, he wanted to have a profile and presence with the ball. As a player, he failed to look around him to see if others were in a better position to receive the ball and make better use of it. He was unaware that others in the team were in a much better position to, say, strike for goal, or were better able to make a constructive pass to a player who could strike for goal
So frustrated did the players in the hockey team become, that, on their return from tour, they said they would never invite then team leader ever again. Or, if he insisted on going, then they would not! This was clearly an unhappy team, but then, so too, were the team we had been working with.
A couple of things struck me about all of this. One was the fact that talking sport with the team leader might well have given one of his team an ‘easy in’ to a more challenging conversation about the leaders personal behaviour and the consequences both for the leader and for others. The other issue quite simply,was why did no one say anything to this chap about simple things like ‘pass the ball’!