• Gianni Sawyer

Most things people learn from you aren’t things you’ve said.

Humans are built to pick up on the signals that we display, even if we don’t realise we’re doing it.

Some examples of this can be in the conscious — where we want to be seen to be doing the right thing and setting the right example. Like making sure you’re the first one to update a ‘whereabouts’ board that helps the team understand where we might be working from on any given day. This positive conscious action sets the benchmark for everyone to follow.

Other examples can fall into the unconscious — an easy one here will be your body language in any given situation. How you react to something can have a dramatic effect on what your team might think is acceptable going forward.

Sorry, what was that?

So when you’re trying to convey ideas and thoughts to your team, the chances are that some of them won’t listen. Not necessarily in a rebellious way, but they’re simply distracted.

Emails. Phones. People. Home. Partners. Kids. Health. Stress. Cars. Trains…the list goes on.

I don’t quite get it?

Of the remaining bunch that do listen, you need to expect that a portion of them just don’t understand what you’re saying.

This is OK when the team tells you, but be aware that experience suggests that they probably won’t, and this won’t be visible immediately.

Got it — what was it again?

There will be people in your team that absolutely do listen to what you’re saying, taking in every last detail and doing all that they can to make sure that they understand you, and that’s great!

Generally, I would say that on the whole, people like to do a good job, and they’ll try to get into this group.

Set the Tone

One thing that connects all of these; they’ll probably forget about what you’ve said too.

That’s because it’s easy to. It’s not their fault.

One way that you can get your messages and ideas to stick is for the team to be able to SEE you living these messages.

This is what I’m calling ‘Set the Tone’.

They will see you act in a positive way when you’re under pressure, or when you’ve been dealt a huge curveball and if we’re getting all Agile…when presented with change.

Your general behaviour around the team will be picked up, and you’ll need to be sure that you’re backing up your ideas with positive actions.

How do you interact with other people? That difficult stakeholder, Project Manager, Product Owner…your team will see that there is a way to deal with these challenges and be given the courage to do so.

Set the Tone in how you behave and how you conduct yourself — it’s one of the most powerful tools you have in your toolbox. And guess what, you get the chance to do this all-day, every day!


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