The simplest way to change your relationship with your team

There is one thing you can do to change things dramatically.

The Surdek Team
November 29, 2021
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When you look at your team, you probably see a lot of things that need to change. As an executive, do you feel like no one is willing to challenge your ideas? Do you feel they tend to work in silos and not focus enough on common goals?

One thing that you may not realize is that you do not have control over other people. You only have control over your 50% of the relationship. Knowing this, what do you need to change as a leader to have a healthier and more conscious relationship with your team?

The simplest thing you can do to have an impact on your team is to work on changing your 50 percent. This will dramatically change your team's half of the relationship.

In this article, we will explore the three ways you can change your side of the dynamic.

1. Take responsibility for your impact

The way you act and the way you speak has an impact on your team. How do you usually behave or react to things? And what does this create for your team? You need to take responsibility for it.

As a leader, understanding how your leadership style occurs to people is critical. For example, if you expect perfection from your team, they may hesitate to take any initiative that has a chance of failing.

To take responsibility, you can start by noticing how people react when you say or do certain things. What are you triggering for them? Is there a different way to say or do that same thing that would have a different impact on them?

We are not saying to wear white gloves. But there is a difference between saying what needs to be said and beating people over the head with it. When you notice you are saying or doing something specific that is having an impact, stop and acknowledge it.

2. Be more intentional

Before you start a conversation, try to be clear on your intention. What are you trying to achieve in this conversation? Are you trying to get the other person's perspective on a particular topic? Are you trying to raise a red flag about someone's behaviour? You can act in different ways when you are aware of your intention.

Once you are clear on your intention, make sure your actions and words align with it when you are talking with your team. By knowing your intention, you can also share it with them during the conversation.

For example, if you are trying to create a discussion around a sensitive topic, you can frame it that way. An opening such as "I would like to talk about this topic, but this is not easy for me... Please bear with me" can help set the stage.

3. Listen for unmet needs

Look beyond the words your teams use when they speak to you. What are the unmet needs they are trying to talk to you about? Try to listen for these instead of reacting to words.

For example, "We don't have time for this new project" could mean your team feels overwhelmed by their current workload and needs you to cut them some slack. Or it could mean they need more support and resources. Try to ask clarifying questions to see what unmet needs are underneath what they say.

Practice doing this and check if you are hearing the right need by naming it. You can do this by asking for example, "Do you need more training?" This will help you see if you are picking up on the right cues.


Change is hard for a lot of people because we are naturally hardwired against it. Our brains prefer staying in situations that are known and comfortable.

The first step to change as a leader is to acknowledge the way you occur to others. Start noticing the impact of your words and actions. Then address the situation when you are not having the desired impact.

Next, start to become aware of the intention you are bringing to your discussions. Listening to your team's unspoken and unmet needs is the third way you can change how you show up as a leader.

The key here is to realize that you only have control over your 50 percent of any interaction. So in order to change your relationship with your team, you have to change what you can control: yourself.

As a leader, how do you occur to the people around you? How can you begin to change your 50 percent of the relationship?