The script in our head
Do you remember the Audi commercial where everyone has a written script they carry around and refer to? The people don’t think or act outside their scripted boundaries, no matter what. As liberating rules, engagement and spirits wane with the weight of it all. The commercial is funny because it rings so true.
We all have scripts in our heads. There’s a script for our role as a team leader. Another as a team member. Still another for family roles, friendships, and neighbours. Some of these scripts serve us well. Others don’t! Worse yet, some of our scripts don’t serve others well.
Learning the script
We learned our scripts from watching others and being guided by others. Parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, bosses, etc. all have an influence on our behaviour choices. Some of my scriptings are driven by my personality type or social style. Other parts of my scripting are driven by the news I watch or the music I listen to. With all of these influences, I learned what was “nice” to say and do and what was “not so nice.” I learned what made others angry, happy, or engaged. I learned to suppress any thoughts of liberating rules.
Refining the script
Over time, I refined my scripts with the intention of being more of a help and willing partner to others with whom I share this journey of life. I determined that I did not want to be a thorn in the side of others. It is still a daily challenge for me.
The idea of scripts gets interesting when applied to a work team. Let’s imagine that you have six people on a team, one of whom is the team leader. Each individual has their own scripts running in their heads and hearts, influenced by both work and personal concerns and experiences. While everyone may be doing the best they can, that’s still a lot of competing scripts, expectations, rules, and noise.
How can the leader help the team go off their individually embedded scripts and create a safe, inspiring workplace where team maters can serve the team’s purpose, common goals, and shared values? Where each person acts to apply skills alongside their trusted colleagues, so they can “wow” customers and meet expectations for results?
An organizational constitution is hugely helpful for this. As a formal statement of the team’s purpose (the reason for being), values, valued behaviours, strategies, and goals, it becomes a consistent guide for each team member. Expectations become aligned when the team agrees to abide by these common expectations. It helps everyone go “off script” from their possibly-detracting inner scripts and creates liberating rules that boost engagement, performance, and customer service.
What scripts do you follow? Do they serve you and others well? How might a common script of liberating rules help your team or family behave in alignment?
S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration.
He writes books and articles and records podcasts.
In his free time, he’s a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.