Finding the Agenda

Agenda 2010 par Pénélope Bagieu By louisvolant on FlickrEveryone has an agenda.

I”m not talking about a meeting agenda…I’m talking about the personal agenda that everyone has built their lives around.

This agenda is the driving force for everything a person does. Its the motivation behind most decisions a person makes throughout their personal and professional life.

This personal agenda can be either good or bad for an organization / team.  If a  personal agenda is at odds with the businesses values / agenda, there will most likely be problems in the long run.

Your job as a leader – find those agendas and figure out how to help people work towards their agenda.

When I went looking for a quick definition of ‘personal agenda’, I found a definition on WikiBooks in a book titled Managing Groups and Teams that I was troubled by.  The definition is:

Personal agendas. A dysfunctional group dynamic that undermines the group objectives. Occur when the natural process of jockeying for a position of status within the group progresses into individual members of the group becoming overly preoccupied with personal concerns and position within the group.

I have to take issue with this definition.  Personal Agendas don’t have to be a bad thing.

Sure…they can get in the way. They can cause real trouble within a team and/or organization…but as a leader, your role is to understand your team members.

And…by ‘understand’, I mean you need to truly know your team.    Don’t just read a resume or a short profile of each team member.  Sit down with them to better understand their motivations, dreams and aspirations.

You need to find each person’s agenda and look for a way to let that person fulfill their own agenda.  In addition, once you understand a person’s agenda and you realize you can’t help them fulfill their needs, perhaps its time to help them find another role in the organization so they can work towards their ultimate goal(s).

Part of being in a leadership role means interacting with your team(s) and the people on those teams. It also means trying to understand what drives the people that work for you.

Are your people driven by money or by challenge?  Are the driven by safety or risk?  What about their need for a life outside of work?

If you don’t understand these basic drivers of your team, how can you motivate them?

If you have a team full of technical folks who want to be challenged by staying on the cutting edge of technology, it may not be that great to force them into playing with legacy systems all day.

If you have a team interested in building their credentials with certifications and training, it might make sense to actually help them with those goals.

To me, finding the agenda of every person on your team is one of the most important – and often overlooked – things a leader can do. That said – you can’t let each person’s agenda drive your decisions.

That’s why being a good leader is so hard…you’ve got to weigh the good of the organization along with what’s good for yourself and your team.  But…finding the agenda of each person on your team will help you make better informed decisions when you need to.

Are you working on finding the agenda of the people on your team?  Do you know what’s really driving the people that work with and/or for you?

Start looking for those agendas…you may be surprised at what you find – different people are motivated by different things.

Image Credit: Agenda 2010 par Pénélope Bagieu By louisvolant on Flickr

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