Gilbert Brenson-Lazan

Founding Partner


Disengagement from the organization can come from personal stress or from organizational stress…often both. On the personal side, we all face challenges that can interfere with personal and team performance, and your reports are no exception:

·      problems at home with the spouse, kids or family of origin

·      personal health and wellness challenges

·      financial stress

·      lack of a specific skill or ability to comply with an expectation of the assumed role, etc.

The organization itself also suffers normal and natural stress situations:

·      more work with less people and resources

·      non-tranformative change (change an element and not the relation between elements)

·      uncertainty and anxiety in the company

·      market crisis

·      persistently overlooked or unresolved problems

·      lack of clarity or alignment

·      technically successful leaders without people skills

·      leaders that poison others with their own disengagement.

Dick Daniels of the Leadership Development Group pointed out in a recent blog that there is a clear sequence in disengagement. It starts with:

CONFUSION: Team members are trying to make sense of what is happening amongst themselves and around them.  When insight and answers are not obvious and the confusion persists, it leads to…

FRUSTRATION:  When a team member is aware of his or her own emotional reaction to personal issues or organizational unrest, then he or she con manage those emotions effectively.  But not all have that self-awareness or emotional intelligence, which results in personal frustration with self, with supervisor, with teammates and with the organization, which quickly leads to…

CRITICISM:  Since we prefer to protect ourselves, the criticism is usually directed at others or at the organization.  We can always justify our criticism to ourselves and to some others, generating a constant negative attitude which becomes…

CYNICISM: “a jaded negativity including a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.”  Cynicism leads even the most high-potential, high-performing team members from active engagement into chronic disengagement.

The daily challenge to top leadership is to create spaces and processes (conversations) that facilitate more trust in the team and more willingness to help each other get through a difficult time.  Leadership is not just another function…it is everything you are and do to positively influence team members toward collaborative, effective action and results.  Senior leaders need to take responsibility for closing the gap between declared values and perceived values, between vision and current climate.

Simply put:  When the problem is organizational…facilitate its solution.   When the problem is a team member’s personal issue…then find a way to help the person.



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