TIGER.

Dear Christian Radio,

Defeat and depression usually fill the vacuum left by a lack of leadership. This was the case during World War II. Hitler and his Nazi army were marching toward Britain. It seemed as though nothing would stop their eventual conquering of the Queen’s island. 

England’s Prime Minister had adopted a view of appeasement. Neville Chamberlain wanted to strike a peace accord with Adolf Hitler. That needs to sink in. Britain’s elected leader was promoting a policy that peace could be struck with the Nazi leader. Chamberlain was eventually relieved of his duties as Prime Minister and Winston Churchill took on the role.

In the WWII movie “Darkest Hour,” Hollywood exercised its creative license with history; even so, the film’s pivotal scene proved to be powerful. Churchill is in a room filled with Chamberlain’s aides and advisors. One of them tells Churchill that “Europe is lost” and the best they can hope for is an accord with Hitler.

In this fictional scene, Churchill slams the desk and loudly proclaims, “When will the lesson be learned? When will the lesson be learned? How many more dictators must be wooed, appeased…before we learn that you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth?”

Under Churchill’s leadership, Hitler was, in fact, defeated. Instead of seeing Hitler as a tiger to be tamed, Churchill saw Hitler as a tiger that was to be defeated.

Tigers. We all have them. Even our prized teams have them. These tigers are a combination of both workplace habits and cultural responses that we all naturally do. However, they have the real potential to eventually kill an organization’s culture or even worse, destroy the organization in full.

We’ve all reasoned with the tiger. We’ve even snuggled up next it, trying to make it our friend. We try to lessen our anxiety by justifying it, pretending that it really isn’t a big deal.

At a recent PAR team meeting, I told this same story. Then, I challenged the entire team to confess their own tigers. My one rule: no one could use this exercise to “out” someone else’s tigers..only their own personal flaws. PAR is a safe place for candor; therefore, there would be no repercussions. One by one, they began to confess.

Team members spoke openly about their own tigers. They shared their battles and admitted to how they’ve placed their heads in the tiger’s mouth, even when they knew the damage it could do.

While we were sharing as individuals, this exercise was ultimately about us, so we made a list for all to see. Our list of tigers included:

  • Believing the worst and then acting on it
  • Venting on social media
  • Complaining and whining
  • Choosing to do only enjoyable tasks
  • Belief that we’re not worthy
  • Overthinking a situation
  • Gossip
  • Disengaging from the team when we feel overwhelmed

There were more…so many, many more.

It was a powerful moment. Here’s the remarkable part though: when we confessed our tiger(s) out loud, it instantly lost some of its power…its hold, if you will. Saying these things out loud pulls the issues out of the darkness and exposes them. In that moment, we were strengthened and ready to do…but the pursuit to defeat these tigers did not end there.

Discussions continued back at our PAR departments and stations. As an organization, we’ve already been applying principles from Brene’ Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead.” This has helped us to better overcome the tigers that plague every workplace.

The good news: we are making progress. It’s happening because we’re actually talking about the issues. This team wants to be better, so there is no sweeping issues under the rug and hoping no one notices.

All of this is built on trust. So, before you take this story and run with it, make sure you have the necessary amount of trust built up. Otherwise, your people won’t be comfortable enough to share their tigers. They will simply sit there with their mouths closed.

Build trust.

Share the story.

Drag your tigers into the light.

Begin the process of defeating them.

Doing so will help you create a better place to work.  

ENCW —

Brian Sanders
Executive Vice President
Positive Alternative Radio

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