Basecamp: Leadership Blog


The Intersection of Business and Personal Development

Jan 19, 2023
A Story About the Intersection of Personal Development & Business
Earlier today, we hosted one of our ‘Hotseat’ calls with leaders in our Threshold program. This is a unique opportunity where once a quarter the group comes together to help a group member triage an imminent challenge or opportunity in their business. 
These sessions are brilliant, and a full contact sport.  
There were a few takeaways from today’s call that I have been reflecting on, and wanted to share with you in hopes it may be helpful. 
Today, (we’ll call him Larry) was in the hotseat, and was sharing how annoyed he was getting by his team members constantly asking him questions. More importantly, it was getting in the way of him working on invoicing and business development. 
His initial solution? A new org chart with updated responsibilities and KPIs. 
We dug a bit deeper and asked, how do you currently respond to employees when they approach you with questions?
Larry said, “Ughhh well this is just common sense. It’s all information they have access to. What do they want me to do, google it for them?”
We could all feel his frustration. As the call went quiet I said, “it’s super clear that you are frustrated, but is that how you actually respond to your team? If we had a camera in the room, what would the game film show us?”
Larry paused. “Well, I just give them the answer really quickly, huff under my breath and carry on."
When we dug a bit deeper, Larry quickly recognized that a new org chart and KPIs was simply putting lipstick on the pig. In fact, it wasn’t going to solve the problem at all. Instead of learning into conflict with his team, Larry was allowing himself to marinate in anger and frustration alone. 
As we deconstructed the situation further, it became clear that Larry’s fear and avoidance of conflict was the root cause of the pain he was experiencing with his team. This was the unseen obstacle getting in the way of Larry scaling his team and having the time and space to do the work he loves. 
To put it bluntly, Larry was complicit in creating the conditions he said he didn’t want. While it might seem counter-intuitive, continuing to answer questions on demand from his team was actually serving Larry. By answer the questions he didn’t have to keep his team accountable or experience friction. 
Larry’s belief was that conflict was bad, and something to be avoided. If conflict was present, it was an indication that the team was weak. 
The reality, and alternative perspective? Strong, secure relationships and leadership teams are built THROUGH conflict. And having a bad-ass leadership team is a critical ingredient to grow any business. 
The coolest thing? Learning how to personally engage in conflict is not only much faster and cheaper than building and launching a new org chart, but it is directly in Larry’s control and will have broad sweeping impact in other areas of his life (relationship with family, community etc.)
More often than not, the business problems are a symptom of a much deeper personal development opportunity. 
Business, like families, can be a tremendous vehicle for personal development. So next time you’re trying to solve a problem, ask yourself: 
“How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?”
“What personal development opportunity of mine is being exposed here?”