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Broken Expectations:


Turning Cracks in Team Communication into Spaces that Embrace Community


By Dr. Sandi Coyne-Gilbert, MBA, DM


uring the past few years, the number of safe, serene spaces where we can pause to draw our “emotional breath” seems to have grown progressively smaller. Public health crises, ongoing police brutality, and the oppressive political climate have greatly diminished the places we can take cover from the chaos. Without sound support and dependable guidance, it’s no wonder so many people are in doubt, discontent, depressed, and in need of direction.


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In our attempts to navigate these global seismic shifts, we are all facing scenarios of “broken expectations,” situ- ations in which we lack the emotional vigor to visualize what the world will look like beyond 2020. Leaders and follow- ers alike are not sure what to do for their teams and previously reliable forecasters of the future struggle just like the rest of us. Gone are the wide range of options we traditionally depended on, leaving in its place only fearful, cautionary alternatives. Nothing seems planned or guaranteed, and we long for the limitless opportunities we once believed were ours.


Envisioning beyond broken expecta- tions requires pivoting, weaving, and push- ing onward. To help your team in these turbulent and tentative times, below are six ideas leaders can implement to mend and strengthen mutual connections.


1. Conduct regular meetings: Consistency can be healing, so even if you don’t have all the answers, schedule a time to talk with your team. Leaders who hold regular meetings keep catastrophe at bay and are less likely to find the people around them depending on alternative, and often false, assumptions.


2. Create celebrations: Though we cannot move comfortably around our world right now, it’s essential to find reasons to point out the positives. Even virtually singing an off-key happy birth- day to coworkers can foster the feeling that we all matter, especially when the world outside can make us feel like just a number.


3. Mobilize safe places for your team members: By highlighting individual team members’ strengths, we inspire them to continue their success and as- sure them that they are not alone. When we build community, we tell our team they are a part of something bigger, and with this, leaders construct safe, essen- tial places for employees to exist.


4. Remember names and use them regularly: Enhance relationships with your employees by keeping them engaged. When you remember and use individuals’ names, they feel visible and valued. For leaders, recognizing names and using them in conversation enrich connections. When you speak my name, you have me alert, involved, and actively working to meet the organization’s needs.


5. Set the standard: Leaders construct the culture and model the behavior to help others move past limitations. Despite the social landscape of the lingering pandemic, make sure you commend those around you as they complete their tasks. Encouraging others through acts of kindness goes a long way.


6. Take the time to include humanity in your huddle: The pursuit of perfection is not a cure for broken expectations. None of us are perfect and we all make


www.NaturalNutmeg.com 39


mistakes. Leaders who remind us of this truth help us find our innate, honest responses and be authentically candid with others around us.


In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway


writes, “The world breaks everyone, and some grow stronger at the broken places.” Broken expectations can empower lead- ers and followers to find common ground. While we currently can’t avoid broken ex- pectations, we can, within our vulnerabili- ties, use them to bring us closer together.


Sandi Coyne-Gilbert is an accomplished leader with experience in both the educa- tion and nonprofit sectors. Coyne-Gilbert specializes in working with adult learners


and is enthusiastic about instilling a passion for lifelong learning in her students. Her work with at-risk and marginalized groups provided her with unique insights into the power of education for people in transi- tion. Beyond the educational field, Coyne- Gilbert also has experience in marketing and nonprofit leadership. Most notably, she was one of the driving forces behind the development of the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield, MA. Coyne-Gilbert brings her experiences to the classroom as program director for the master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Goodwin University. Are you ready to make a lasting impact? She’d love to hear from you. Call us today: 800.889.3282 or learn more at www.goodwin.edu/leadership. See ad on page 28.


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