A – Are you accessible to me? Can I reach you if I need you?
If we look at board and team dynamics, there are two tipping points that determine whether you move toward alienation or into a more secure connection:
1. When you realize the team is no longer effective. It’s not safe to share opinions, concerns, or come up with new ideas.
2. When you realize you long for that connection. You want be productive and effective.
How you place your feet at these moments determines how your dynamics unfold.
When experiencing a loss of connection, your brain enters fear of rejection and abandonment. You then experience tunnel vision, and a negative pattern starts to spin out from that.
The most popular negative pattern is “demand-withdraw” where one person says, “You don’t respond to me. How can we work together if you don’t respond to me? I keep sending you email after email and get no response. It feels like you don’t hear me. There is no point for me to keep on trying. I feel like I am wasting my time. I can just leave, you know.”
And the other responds, “Is that right? Well, who can talk to someone who is angry all the time? Have you noticed that you are angry all the time? So if you want to leave, that’s fine.”
What do successful people do?
Successful team members start to sense that they are really scaring each other and are able to slow down and tune into what’s happening. They begin to help each other step out of these negative patterns and soothe one another.
Jeff might say, “I think we are getting caught in one of those negative cycles that we talked about. Perhaps, I started the wrong way. Maybe you felt like I was blaming you, but I didn’t mean it to sound like that. Do you think we can try over again? I am hoping we can talk about it so that we both feel safe.”
This type of a response allows for emotional safety. It restores emotional balance. In our work with boards and teams, this type of conversation predicts success. It improves productivity and growth years later. It also predicts how well people deal with threats.
What does a bonding conversation look like?
Jeff says, “It’s really hard for me to talk about this. Some part of me says that you might think I am weak. But the fact of the matter is that in moments like this, I ask myself if I really am a good-enough leader.”
The chairman responds, “Jeff, you are a great leader, and you are doing one hell of a job.”
Nothing grows people like emotional connection. When you have a secure connection with people you depend on, you are healthier in almost every facet of life. We are not just social animals. We are social animals who bond.
Through board and team dynamics, we can honor our nature and improve the most important elements of our corporate culture.
Part 2: Dismantling a Lock-In in the Boardroom: An Emotionally Focused Approach to Board Effectiveness