In my work with leaders across organisations, I often discover disappointment around the area of relational expectation. This shows itself in various ways but is always painful.
What is interesting is that this relational disappointment is rarely mutual.
For example, a person may come on the LeaderSHIP team of a company. Deep down they have a desire to now be in FriendSHIP with the boss. She is expecting dinner invitations like some of the other leaders have had but months later; still no dinner invitation. She is frustrated – but her boss hasn’t even considered it an issue because he brought her into the company onboard the LeaderSHIP and not the FriendSHIP. This boss’s friendship is full and they see no need to expand it, regardless of a person’s position in their company.
What has happened here? This new leader boarded FriendSHIP without invitation and has felt the pain of being an unseen stowaway in the expectation section of the FriendSHIP. To their surprise, the friendly boss doesn’t actually want to be friends.
Why is this too common? Why do we find ourselves boarding and jumping ships, leaving us with frustration and wounding? Why do some leaders avoid necessary organisational decisions difficult (especially if staff are onboard intimate ships?)
I believe this stems from how we were influenced by three main cultures.
Family (home culture)
Society (country culture)
Religious (faith culture)
What we must be mindful of and honour in ourselves is our deep human desire for connection. The desire to be seen, known and desired is hardwired in us from the beginning. As Curt Thompson says ‘We are born into this world looking for someone looking for us, and we never stop searching.’
There is no shame with wanting to be on board any kind of ship. In fact, we are created for connection and each ship offers a different aspect of connection and it’s good for us to keep a sober view of this.
Unpacking this would warrant a book or a workshop but suffice to say that if there is the fruit of frustration in you or another then there will be some kind of cultural root and perhaps some unhealthy & unrealistic expectations that are causing pain.
Perhaps a good place to start is to consider the ships in your fleet and answer some of the questions I’ve written alongside the 15 types of ships.
I hope this is of some help and look forward to your thoughts and comments. Feel free to use the list of ships and some of the questions in any small group for leadership discussions.[Shout out to David W who shared the simple idea of ‘ships’ with me many years ago!]