Team & Leadership Excellence

Better Team Leadership with ‘Adult’ Ego state!

adult-300x164Transactional Analysis [TA] introduces the fascinating concept of the 3 ego states in us: Parent, Adult & Child. While TA is used extensively in relationship therapy, it is a powerful and potent tool for improvement of leadership.

 

The ‘Parent’ ego state has a positive side and a negative side. The positive side is nurturing and protective. The negative side is uses fear and force to control and is cynical. The ‘Child’ ego state also has a positive and negative side. The positive side is fun loving and carefree and the negative side is being a victim, looking for approval and whining. The ‘Adult’ state is the more mature, rational, long term, restraining and professional.

 

TA therapist recommend that we should develop an adult value system and be in that ego state as much as possible for more healthy relationships. Creator of TA Eric Berne in his book ‘Games People Play’ illustrate how two individuals get into a pattern of behaviour and continue to be in that pattern. These are referred to as ‘Games people play’. There are many games and they will continue if they are complimentary even though they may not be productive or healthy.

 

Let’s see how the ‘Adults’ ego state helps better leadership.

This is a conversation between ‘Tom’ and his manager ‘Joe’.

  1. Tom: Joe I have been in this job for 4 years and I am still at the same level. I feel I can take on more responsibility and add more value to the company. [Tom’s Adult state is communicating to Joes Adult state].
  2. Joe can respond in any of the 3 ego states;
  3. Let’s see what his ‘Parent’ ego state response to Tom’s ‘Child’ ego state will sound like and the ensuing conversation.
    1. Joe: Tom you are stuck in your position because of your poor attitude and performance, you will never be able to progress in this company.
    2. Now Tom can respond in any of the 3 ego states;
    3. Tom: Joe, just because you have been stagnant in your job for the last 6 years, don’t expect me to be the same [Tom’s ‘Parent’ to Joe’s ‘Child’].
    4. Tom: Joe, If I can specifically know areas in which I need to improve and if you give me some clear objectives to achieve in the next 6 months, I can work on them so that you can change your mind about my potential [Tom’s ‘Adult’ to Joes ‘Adult’].
    5. Tom: Joes, I have been really trying and you only find what’s wrong with me [Tom’s ‘Child’ to Joe’s ‘Parent’].
    6. This shows how productive an adult-to-adult conversation is and how anyone can go int an adult mode and make the conversation productive.
  4. Let’s see what his ‘Child’ ego state response to Tom’s ‘Parent’ ego state will sound like and the ensuing conversation.
    1. Joe: Tom, its not only you. I have also been stuck in this position for 6 years. What ever I do my boss does not appreciate what I do. Nothing will change until my boss leaves this company.
    2. Now Tom can respond in any of the 3 ego states;
    3. Tom: Joe, don’t worry, as long as I am in this team you will be secure in your job. Let’s show him what we can do [Tom’s ‘Parent’ to Joe’s ‘Child’].
    4. Tom: Joe, showing good results will be the only solution. Lets get the team together and come up with a plan to turn around our division. We got a great team lets bring them together. [Tom’s ‘Adult’ to Joes ‘Adult’].
    5. Tom: Joes, you are only saying this to pacify me and brush off my issue. You will never look into my welfare [Tom’s ‘Child’ to Joe’s ‘Parent’].
    6. This also shows how productive an adult-to-adult conversation is, how even a more senior person in the relationship can go into a ‘child’ state and how anyone can go into an adult mode and make the conversation productive.
  5. Let’s now see what his ‘Adult’ ego state response to Tom’s ‘Adult’ ego state will sound like and the ensuing conversation.
    1. Joe: Tom, our division has been missing our targets over the last 2 years. I am unable to recommend a promotion with these numbers.
    2. Now Tom can respond in any of the 3 ego states;
    3. Tom: Joe, but Jack working in the ‘Retail’ team got a promotions this year and that department is also not doing well. You are just giving excuses because of your inability to convince your boss. [Tom’s ‘Parent’ to Joe’s ‘Child’].
    4. Tom: Joe, that makes sense. We can’t expect promotions with poor performance. Lets get the team together and come up with a plan to turn around our division. [Tom’s ‘Adult’ to Joes ‘Adult’].
    5. Tom: Joes, but everyone is working hard and I know you can show what I do to your boss and get me my promotion. [Tom’s ‘Child’ to Joe’s ‘Parent’].
    6. This also shows how productive an adult-to-adult conversation is and how anyone can go into an adult mode and make the conversation productive.
  6. As you see this conversation can go in many directions based on the ego states selected by each of the party in the conversation at any point in the conversation.

 

Managers may take any of the ego states due to;

  1. Their nurturing an upbringing
  2. What they have learnt to be effective observing their bosses [past or present]
  3. The organizational culture
  4. What’s’ going on in their life at any given juncture
  5. The relationship with the team member
  6. Own performance
  7. Team members performance
  8. Personal dreams and aspirations.

 

However as evident by this example, it is the ‘Adult’ state that makes leadership more effective and developing an adult ‘value’ system and developing an ‘adult’ mode of communication becomes paramount.

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