Life, I like to say, is simply a series of human moments. Some are awe inspiring, some are mundane, some are, shall we say, less than stellar. But on the continuum of high points to low points, all human lives are made up of the full range of moments.
As leaders it’s easy to focus on the extremes. We watch for the high points, looking for top talent and opportunities to leverage performance. And all too often we fall into the problem-focused habit of being hyper vigilant and critical of every low point, trying to prevent potential issues by course correcting at the first hint of deviation.
Here’s what usually happens when leadership only acknowledges those extremes; the team culture becomes highly competitive with everyone striving to be seen for creating the high points and it also becomes a culture of blame and shame because no one can afford to be seen as being responsible for a low point.
I know a lot of leaders and managers who say that “human moments” are the hardest part of their job. Regardless of what industry sector you’re in, what title is on your business card, or what level of interaction you have with your team – business leadership is people leadership. No matter how automated or systematized work becomes, inspiration, innovation, and the highest level of problem-solving requires the highest level of human thinking. And unlike technology, humans are never plug and play. Every individual is just that – an individual.
Fortunately, all individuals have shared basic, even primal, requirements for being their personal best while being part of a team. In The Human Team, I call these “The 6 Facets of Human Needs.” If you’re familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which provided a model for individual self-actualization, think of this as a similar model for the actualization of a team.
The 6 Facets of Human Needs™, which I often refer to as “The 6 Cs” because, coincidentally, they all begin with the letter C, are; Clarity, Connection, Contribution, Challenge, Consideration, and Confidence. If leadership fails to provide for one of more of these universal needs team health and performance will inevitably suffer.
Being aware of and prepared for the full range of human moments is one way to meet a lot of those human needs. Because some of the most important human moments won’t necessarily look like high points. They’ll show up as the seasoned sales rep taking time to educate and encourage the newest addition to the team. Or, as a team I recently worked with discovered, when they were connected to a single common objective they collaborated and challenged each other more leading to new levels of confidence in the organization. They are now looking at how to maintain that human energy by leveraging new challenges and celebrating the outcomes (considering the people on the team!).
Acknowledging and encouraging these moments creates a sense of connection, invites contribution, demonstrates true consideration, and builds confidence. And as for those low points? A lot of what we label “low points” are just natural human moments. Every human has missed appointments, forgotten a name, lost an opportunity, or failed the team or client in some way due to misaligned expectations By seeing these incidents simply as “human moments” you encourage transparency, which allows you to become aware when there is a lack of clarity that needs to be addressed, you make it safer for people to contribute, and you make it more likely that people will enjoy being challenged and will use the challenge to grow and excel rather than feeling inadequate or threatened.
All success is created one human moment at a time. And not all of those moments look like the success they can become. Sometimes they start out as iron, even when they’re destined to become gold. It really is like being an alchemist, being the kind of leader who can see that potential and create that transformation. I believe the world needs that kind of leader, it’s actually why I wrote The Human Team, to give leaders a structure and actionable strategies for becoming the “business alchemist” they want to be. Because when we learn how to work this kind of magic work, becomes a place where we turn human moments into absolutely priceless opportunities and outcomes.