“This is a team problem, not your problem to solve. Understand, you are accountable for the output of this team, but only the team can solve this problem. Your role is to name the problem, put it on the table, in front of everyone, and outlast the panic,” I repeated.
“I don’t know if I have the courage,” Miriam replied. “Besides, I always heard that you should praise in public and scold in private.”
“Weasel wisdom,” I nodded.
“I heard you say, there are weasel words, but now you say there is weasel wisdom?”
I continued to nod. “Yes, weasel wisdom. If it is an individual’s issue, you speak directly to the individual, and if it is a team issue, you speak to the team, in front of the team. Yes, you are right, it takes courage.”
“And if I don’t have the courage?” Miriam questioned her own confidence.
“What does that say about your belief? Remember, what we believe drives behavior. What is your belief?”
Miriam struggled. “If I don’t confront the whole team with the team problem, it says we don’t believe the team can solve the problem. It says the team cannot talk about the problem. It says the team can only deal with the problem behind closed doors.”
“And every time you, as the manager, take the team problem behind closed doors, you participate in a grand collusion that cripples the team from solving ANY problem.” -Tom