Dear Team: Don\’t Fence Me In!

Yesterday, for some reason, I was humming the cowboy jingle, Don’t Fence Me In.  I love how my mind provides me with seemingly ridiculous songs to further illuminate my thoughts and feelings. Happen to you, too?

Apparently, I was thinking about space. Not the physical kind but rather the relational kind. Like: Let me be me and you be you.

We know that teams, families and organizational systems with greater diversity make better decisions, and take longer to make these decisions, too. Easy to say, yet way more complicated to apply. Because if I don’t understand myself, I surely will not understand you. Nor will I be likely to value our differences.

Call it the Be-Like-Me disease, and then there is the equally debilitating is the Be-Like-Them illness. And we're all highly susceptible.

Getting to Know You

Ironically, in this new landscape of engagement through monitor screens or masks and gowns, we’ve never been so remote – yet intimate – together.

We’re getting to know ourselves and others in all sorts of new ways. Sometimes the experience is hilarious (I watched a dog maneuver food off a counter with his paws while its owner was attentively listening to me as I gave a presentation). And sometimes it's downright embarrassing (this New Yorker article had me weeping with laughter).

So at the risk of grossly oversimplifying, I\'d like to share more on the work of Linda Berens and the Essential Motivator™ theory. For you to be gloriously you, and others to be their unique selves, too.

This theory answers the WHY behind what we and others do – our core psychological needs, values and talents. It helps us understand why we feel fulfilled or unfulfilled, and why we flare up under stress when our needs are not met.

See if you recognize yourself or others, particularly in one of the patterns below.  Or, notice the one you least relate to. If this is a skill required extensively now, it's a good clue as to why you are so exhausted.

The 4 Essential Motivator ™ Patterns

The Catalyst™ Pattern: The Diplomatic Skill Set

Motivated by possibilities for people, these people deeply value harmonious relationships. They thrive in an environment where they can live in alignment with their personal values. They seek to nurture empathetic relationships, authenticity, unity and harmony, and their natural talents are to facilitate, counsel, champion, involve, inspire and engage together in relationships.

They are most stressed by argumentative, competitive, impersonal and indifferent environments where caring relationships are not the priority.  As a result, they can be conflict-avoidant, and emotionally rescue people whether or not they want it.

The Stabilizer™ Pattern: The Logistical Skill Set

Motivated by a place to contribute and belong, these people deeply value structured systems that serve others. They thrive in a secure and orderly environment with well-established and supportive norms. They seek to create the rules, roles and regulations to protect, preserve and provide for others, and their natural talents are to monitor, support, organize and protect groups and systems.

They are most stressed by exclusion, disrespect for authority and disobedience, which threaten the common bond. Under stress, they can adhere to stability to the point of rigidity, following systems when it no longer makes sense.

The Theorist™ Pattern: The Strategic Skill Set

Motivated by competence, knowledge and self-control, these people deeply value concepts, ideas, progress and improvement. They thrive in an environment where they have the freedom to challenge, debate and reach expert solutions. They seek to solve problems and enigmas, and their natural talents are to analyze, invent, research, critique, systematize, invent and design.

They are most stressed by incompetence, theirs and others. Under stress, they will make the simple complex and can become impatient or intolerant when they sense a lack of competence in a system or from others.

The Improviser™ Pattern: The Tactical Skill Set

Motivated by impact-centered contributions, these people deeply value pragmatism and the freedom to act NOW. They thrive in an environment where there is action, spontaneity, stimulation and excitement. They seek to solve problems with grace, dexterity and to accomplish the greatest effect with the least amount of effort. Their natural talents are to negotiate, expedite, troubleshoot, seize opportunities and then move on to the next adventure.

They are most stressed by long-term planning or anything beyond the immediate and practical. Under stress, they have more starts than finishes and can appear to have little concern for procedures and plans.

Multiple Learning Lens for Growth and Understanding

In summary, we humans are quite complex. Any learning lens that helps us recognize our different talents will further leverage our success together.

And right now, we need extra help. In so many ways, we’re lacking space.

In our homes, we're fenced in one person on top of another. And in our minds, we can be a bit foggy and trapped, too, circling endlessly to find our glasses, a pen, that piece of paper – basically, our brain.

So what would it look like if you gave yourself the gift of a bit more freedom – to be more fully who you are and others to be more fully themselves?

To the wide-open spaces of self-awareness and team diversity.

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