Flipping Professional Jealousy
One of the biggest challenges a leader faces is professional jealousy amongst staff or even within herself. But what if that leader can "flip" professional jealousy just like an investor flips houses? An investor buys the worst house on the best street because of its “bones” but sees an opportunity to “flip” that investment through focusing on the possibilities, not problems. What might that require of a leader seeing professional jealousy in a team? Think about it. What would that truly, deeply call upon from her? A vision of a better outcome, a better staff member, a better leader in the mirror, perhaps? Yes. Commitment to the value of such an undertaking? Without a doubt. How about an understanding of what’s behind the rough exterior of professional jealousy? Absolutely - you cannot fix a thing without a thorough understanding of the problem. Finally, might the ability to “flip” jealousy not also require an alternative perspective on jealousy, an ability to think the unthinkable about jealousy telling you a valuable tale instead of a disease to be feared, attacked or cut out? I say, without a doubt. Let me run with this some more.
Too many articles urge leaders to look at professional jealousy at arms length, as an organizational tumour in the workplace, one that must be rooted out and removed, destroyed, erased from corporate memory. The unfortunate side effect is two-fold: 1) there are real human assets wrapped up in professional jealousy and 2) whole-scale removal compromises the leader’s ability to deal with the source of professional jealousy. In other words, professional jealousy is a symptom that can be best addressed at its core. An unexpected benefit of doing so is that the disease may be cured without killing the patient. So, what might jealousy be telling you?
Hearing the grain of truth from within a situation of professional jealousy is a challenging undertaking for leaders but crucial to improving employee engagement, teamwork, productivity and organizational climate and systems. Systems and structures within the organization were all witness to the rise of professional jealousy. Use every instance of professional jealousy as an opportunity to determine what, in the system or structure, created the ideal conditions for this emotion to spring forth and you will have an admirable chance of rooting out those conditions and creating new ones that encourage more fruitful behaviour, emotions and results.
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Kelly Johnson, PCC Executive Coach