“We’re Too Busy to…” (Quest story)


Jayne told me the story of a team she once facilitated to help communicate more effectively. The leader of the team told her and his team a laundry list of things this team was too busy to do:

•    We’re too busy to have meetings with agendas
•    We’re too busy to touch base with people how projects are going
•    We’re too busy to think about communication preferences

This leader was also swamped: “I get 200 emails a day from the team telling me status updates.”

What about his team? Here’s what they had to say:

•    He sends emails barking orders that repeatedly say ‘get it done, get it done, get it done’.
•    We’re successful but we hate each other.

This was a team with swagger. All millenials (including the leader), they said to Jayne at the beginning, “You better have extra things for us to do because we’re going to be better and faster than any team you’ve ever worked with.” And they meant it.

The first team building activity they tried they leaped into action…or more specifically the leader leaped into action. “Here’s what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.” And off they went, implementing his plan…at least at the start.

The result? Jayne said it was amazing to see a team get something so wrong, so early in the game and stick with it. The plan pretty quickly got thrown out the window – not consciously, it just kind of happened that way – and they rushed headlong down a dead end, getting more and more frustrated. Then they looked at Jayne as if she had betrayed them somehow by giving them a challenge that they were terrible at.

This story is sad and it’s funny in a schadenfreude kind of way. “Hey, at least we’re not that team!”

And it may hit a little too close to home. Does this sound like a leader you know? Are you this leader? Are you on this team? We all share some of these characteristics when we’re under stress.

Bad teams and bad leaders don’t lack energy or personal investment. What they lack is a way to work smarter, not harder. They get the job done operating in a pretty constant emotional state of “We’re successful but we hate one another.”

You’re busy, too busy really. I know, I am too.

But if you’re reading this – busy as you are – you’re at least open to answering three questions:

1.    What kind of team will you be on today?
2.    How will you lead?
3.    What will you do today…that you’re too busy to do?

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