Several times in my career, I’ve been asked to play a “get-to-know-you” game at a business dinner. The game is called Two Truths and a Lie. The way it works? Each person states three things about their life that the rest of the people would not know. Two of them must be true. One must be a lie. Then you go around the table, with each person guessing which statement is the lie.
The first time I played this game, a woman I thought I knew well, made her three statements. One of them was, “I am married to a former professional baseball player.” I thought to myself – her husband actually looks like a baseball player. That could be true. But why wouldn’t I know that, if it is true? While the others were guessing which statement was a lie, I was stuck on the fact that I really didn’t know my co-worker very well at all.
This game is easy to play with people from work – because the truth of the matter is, we don’t know our work associates very well. Here are the two truths and one lie that we must confront:
TRUTH: Asking your team members about the significant events in their lives expresses care and concern for them.
TRUTH: Knowing your team members life experiences can help you develop them and position them for success.
LIE: You can bring out their best performance and know very little about their lives outside of work.
No, you can’t.
The only way to set up your team for superior performance is to know them very well.
Think about these examples on a personal level:
- There is considerable evidence that birth order relative to your siblings impacts your leadership. If you tell me that you were the oldest child who was a frequent babysitter of your four younger brothers – your behaviors at work may be easier to understand. Knowing that you are used to being “in charge,” I can help you find positions to leverage your strengths. I can also coach you to be more aware of this strong trait, so that it does not strain your relationships with others.
- Perhaps you have lost a parent or both parents when you were a child. Often this causes you to spend your life trying to please that parent that you do not have today. If you share with me your loss and the difficulty you have seeking the approval of others, we can work on that together, to help you be more effective.
- Perhaps when you were young, you didn’t make the Little League team. Every year you attended tryouts and every year, you didn’t make a team. If I learn of this long-standing disappointment in your life, I will better understand why you are sensitive when you do not “win” at work.
At work, we don’t need to share everything in our lives – but if we share a few important life experiences that have shaped us into who we are today – then the leader can look for opportunities to leverage your strengths and coach your weaknesses. Knowing you helps me grow you.
How well do you know the people who work for you? If you play the game tonight, will you know which one is the lie? Or will you be stumped – lacking the information you need – to access that person’s very best performance?