An article this week in the Wall Street Journal (15 May 2012) called us “a nation of whiners.”
The national insult aside, what was more important was that the author lamented that whining doesn’t help, but problem-solving does!
According to the article, whiners can be treated therapeutically by:
1) Mirroring–letting people see/hear themselves in this state of learned helplessness.
2) Challenging–confronting whiners and asking them what they are going to do about their situation.
3) Encouraging–providing positive reinforcement when people make positive steps to taking control of their lives.
Similarly, there are those who get stuck in a sort of professional rut, complaining about the status quo, but they have trouble working incrementally to try and change things.
A strong leader can help their people move on from the status quo, applying the therapeutic techniques above, but also by doing the following:
1) Inquire–talk with your people and find out what they think is working, isn’t, and how things can be improved.
2) Envision–together, set a vision for a better future that addresses people’s genuine concerns in the aggregate.
3) Empower–delegate specific actions so everyone can be a part of the solution; give them the authority along with the responsibility to make change possible.
4) Observe–monitor progress and review whether the changes being made are having a positive impact and where adjustments in strategy need to be made.
These are really fundamental leadership skills, but applied to people who are feel helpless, hopeless, or are just plain resistant to change, the key is how we exemplify forward momentum and help others feel they too can make a genuine difference.
Bad situations are generally not life sentences, if we can but imagine positive change, break it down into incremental steps, and then put one foot in front of the other, and we are on our way.
(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Rifqi Dahlgren)