Saturday, June 4, 2016

Star Trek

More information about Sally, Executive VP in a team of four in "Developing a Work Team with the Enneagram."

Sally (style Three), one of three executive vice presidents reporting to the CEO, Pete (style Five), had been reacting to emotional discomfort by withdrawing, without explaining herself. Pete was concerned about this: "If it's a business or technical issue, she'll confront, but when she's uncomfortable about something she draws back from it emotionally. During one intense team session she just sat back and worked on some papers."

Sally said, "Too many of our discussions focus on feelings and not enough on outcomes. When this happens I tell myself This is too emotional for me and back away. I grew up in a big, extended family that fights and screams. I've seen my father punish my sister, who would never conform to what he wanted, and I remember thinking I never want to get on his bad side. My Dad was always telling us what we should do, how we should look, but I was never afraid he'd turn on me because I could control that very easily by doing what he asked."

Her results-focus showed up in Sally's self-image as a team member: "Joe (style Nine) and Matt (style Six) will probably say I try to take responsibility for things that aren't my job. But when I think our employees or customers might be let down, I offer assistance. It's hard when I think I can make a situation better but they're either upset with me for 'interfering' or aren't willing to do what I suggest." 

Her team mates described Sally as bright and articulate, but they wished she wouldn't hold such a dichotomy between her personal self and work life. They saw her as somewhat closed to people.  Joe said, "She has a normal comfort zone for someone at her level." Matt agreed: "I'd like to get to know her better, but I feel off-guard with her" (this was in response to her intervening in his areas of responsibility). 

Sally was convinced she could make a difference and aggressively pursued goals she believed in. Consequently, her responsibilities had steadily grown since she joined the company. When asked about her working definition of teamwork, she said, "I think Star Trek: The Next Generation teaches wonderful lessons about honesty and how to treat people; they're a diverse group but when the chips are down they work together. The leader of the crew is very strong, but treats everyone with respect and gets done what needs to be done. I know I can be overbearing in taking the lead, but I do not want to be vulnerable to failure. It's just safer to be on my own."

A major priority for Sally's development was to access her feelings and learn how to consider the feelings of others. Shortly after our team session, she sent a memo to Matt outlining in specific and glowing terms his contribution to a major project. She acknowledged in private her goal to become more comfortable making such comments in person.