Several weeks ago a friend of mine who works in a not-for-profit organization went through a training program that featured the Four Disciplines of Execution, a Franklin Covey model which teaches the behaviors necessary to achieve Wildly Important Goals (Covey, 2012).

Caitlyn was selected as leader for the team charged with implementing steps that focused on securing additional major gifts to the organization. This opportunity required her to lead multiple team members. As one of the youngest members of the team, she was honored to serve in the role. She welcomed the challenge to lead from the chair she was in, without a formal management title.

The Reality of Difficult Team Members

They faced immediate challenges with their current work process and its lack of alignment with their new team goals. One team member in particular was very skeptical of the new approach. He had been in the development, fund-raising world for 20+ years and believed that the “new approach” was just another flavor of the month. In his mind and experience, there was a successful way to do things and the new approach did not fit that template. His attitude and approach was being felt by all the members of the team and his negative comments had the potential to derail the process before it even had a chance to gain momentum.
As it turned out, it was fortuitous that Caitlyn was making her way through The Catalyst Effect. Specifically a chapter regarding connecting emotionally (The Catalyst Effect, Emerald Publishing, 2018). Caitlyn recounted that as she read through the examples on how to deal with change and negative energy. As a result, she made the decision to talk with her colleague privately and empathetically.

Turning a Corner

She now recounts, “sitting side-by-side in his office, I had the opportunity to talk with him about the accomplishments of the team if we were in fact Wildly Successful. We had no disagreement on what we wanted to accomplish together. In fact we agreed whole-heartedly. I pointed out my concern for his disconnect, his lack of commitment to the new approach. Along with his negative comments and the impact they were having on other team members. I listened to his concerns and encouraged him to give the new approach a chance.
It worked! We each left with a much better understanding of each other and our respective commitments to meeting goals. Our team meetings have improved markedly since that discussion. I know that he is still skeptical, but he has agreed to support the new approach. Along with talking to me regularly about how we can work together to achieve our team’s goals. That’s progress in my book!”
Postscript: Caitlyn did not miraculously achieve a Kumbaya moment with a new team member. However, she was successful in connecting emotionally and appealing to her colleague’s desire to put team goals ahead of individual interests. While it was difficult for her to confront her more experienced colleague, it was a step that she knew she needed to take.  It was a risk built on positive intent and sincerity. Coupled with the willingness to connect emotionally while placing team goals first.
The Four Disciplines of Execution, by Covey, S.R.  FranklinCovey Publishing, 2012

The Catalyst Effect:  12 Behaviors and Skills To Boost Your Impact and Elevate Team Performance, by Toomer, Caldwell, Weitzenkorn, Clark, Emerald Publishing, 2018.

Originally posted October 24, 2018 by Psychology Today