What can leadership teams learn from real-families?

What can leadership teams learn from real-families?

There is no real-family without some healthy argument taking place at some point. I grew-up in a family where being vocal was considered a virtue.

Few days ago I had to review all the team coaching engagements I completed in the last fiveyears. I had to describe them briefly for the ICF team coaching accreditation. One insight emerged: most senior leadership teams I  worked with struggled with fostering constructive conflict. The team dialogue was too polite  and nice and without discussed disagreements  the innovation suffered.

According to Patrick Lencioni, the lack of conflict is one of the five dysfunctions of the team and most of the time is linked to trust and pshycological safety. Which teams score high on trust and pshycological safety: real-families.Perhaps families like mine or yours.

What can leadership teams learn from real-families? 

Executive leadership teams play a crucial role in the success of any organization. As a leader, you have the power to shape the culture, values, and behavior of your organization, and to create a work environment that promotes growth, collaboration, and innovation. Most importantly you can have a real impact on people’s lives. Incorporating real-family values into the way you develop your executive leadership team can have a profound impact not only on  their effectiveness and performance but also on their well-being and their family well-being.

Real-family values  promote the well-being and happiness of the family through values such as trust, respect, empathy, communication, fun, personal-growth and collaboration.

These values are not only essential for building strong and healthy families, but they are also critical for developing high-performing and sustainable executive leadership teams.

Here is why I believe so:

Real-family values promote trust and psychological safety

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, whether it’s within a family or an executive team. When team members feel safe and trusted, they are more likely to be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other. This, in turn, creates a culture of psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from each other.

Real-family values foster empathy and understanding

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and it’s a critical skill for effective leadership. When leaders and team members can empathize with each other, they can better understand each other’s perspectives, needs, and motivations. This can lead to better communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution.

Real-family values encourage communication and feedback

Communication is the lifeblood of any successful team, and it’s essential for building trust, resolving conflicts, and achieving shared goals. When team members communicate openly and honestly with each other, they can provide feedback, share ideas, and make decisions collaboratively. This can lead to better alignment, accountability, and performance.

When I say ‘real-families’ I don’t mean perfect families. Families are made of humans and not  compliant employees or polite direct-reports. In good days you might love your family and, in bad days you might complain about communication, listening and empathy. Still, you keep trusting them.

You know a value is real when you see people giving each-other feedback on it, just as it happens in real-families,  not when you see it framed on the company corridors.

There are  three things  you could do to increase the level of trust and psychological safety in your leadership team.

  1. Build trust early  – Share where were you born? How many siblings you had? Which one was you? How was a usual day in your family?)
  2. Share personal fears, aspirations and values – The most senior leader could start
  3. Normalise giving feedback –  You get feedback often from parents or siblings for the smallest things. Start small, do it often and it will become a team norm

‘Leadership is about making other better as a result of your presence, and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ (S. Sandberg)

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence(PQ and EQ). If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow us mothersasleaders.com