If I were an employer – or owner of a team – would l want my employees to take a knee? Taking a knee, or having any out of the box behavior, means more than the behavior. As an employer, the knee is information. So, yes, I would want my employees to take a knee. How or why or when they do it? Now, that’s the information part.
Does the employee:
Always takes a knee. If someone is always in the forefront and taking the professional knee they might not be aware of their own (or the organization’s ) goals and therefore, unaware of how they fit into the bigger picture. In this case,
Do you know the organization purpose and goals? Does the team know the purpose and goals? Do you know the individual’s purpose and goals? Are organization, team and individual goals aligned?
Kneel at the most inopportune times. If someone takes a knee in the middle of an important play (think proposal session with a major prospect), when there are only a few seconds left in the game or when its time to celebrate a win, they are looking for attention. In this case,
How do you provide feedback to build confidence? How do you receive feedback? Are you modeling emotional intelligence? When was the last time you talked to people individually for no reason?
Never take a knee. If someone never takes a stand or has an opinion, you can be sure that there is more to the story. Think dormant volcano. The inclination is to thank your lucky stars that you have a team player but think again. This may be a sign of disengagement or worse, active disengagement.
Do you provide a place for voicing contrary opinions and cray cray ideas? If you don’t provide the place it will happen anyway (think bar, water cooler, social media). How do you receive opinions and ideas that are different from your own or from what you expect? Do you reward compliance (more attention, promotion, projects)? What important information are you missing?
Take a knee when its important to them. Even if you don’t agree, there is something to learn – intellectual expansion opportunity – when someone knows and stands their line. If it’s done without malice, it’s a beautiful (although not always comfortable) place for learning, connecting, and growing together.
How do you recognize, support and provide outlets for other people’s beliefs? Do you honor the stage that your company – industry – provides? What would you take a knee for? Do you have (and do other people understand) the boundaries for individual ideas and expression?
Maybe it’s uncomfortable – and sometimes disruptive – for a person to take a knee but it always information. There is so much you can learn from this (and other) behaviors/actions that can make you (see all of the underlined above) a better leader and make your business more successful.