6 Signs Your Team Isn’t Voting For You

A person casting his vote in a box

Today is election day in the United States when citizens from all walks of life come together to have their say in who will represent them. In the workforce, voting takes place every day. Employees cast ballots for the leader they want to succeed. Employees who vote for you are collaborative, innovative, committed, and driven. Those who don’t vote for you vote for themselves, often taking on self-preserving behaviors that create safety. As a leader, it’s important to know if your team is voting for you and when there are not. Here are six signs that your team may not be voting for you.

  1. Limited or Lack of Initiative. Supporting a winning campaign is hard work. Supporters of candidates open doors, share resources, and actively engage in the candidate’s work. If your team is not taking the initiative on projects or tasks without being directly told to do so, it could indicate that they lack belief in your leadership skills and vision. You needed to explain the assignment better. Do they understand the totality of what you are trying to accomplish? Do they know their authority and boundaries in decision-making? Did you help them see why they are best positioned to support the project? If the answer to these critical questions is no, that could be why they are limiting their actions.
  2. Total Agreement. Your team may not be voting for you if they are always agreeing with everything you say and suggest. Even tacit agreement can signify that they fear backlash or retribution if they speak up against your ideas. A team should feel comfortable enough to respectfully challenge each other and innovate new ideas, not simply go along with what the leader says to avoid conflict. Asking for input and then refuting the feasibility of the suggestion without a moment’s consideration is a surefire way to gain tacit agreement. Few individuals will continuously offer their creative ideas or suggestions if they see a pattern of immediate pushback. When asking for input, try acknowledging the contribution (e.g., ‘Thanks, Heidi, I hadn’t considered that’), and then if you need more clarification, ask how the recommendation work from their perspective might. Consider ways to incorporate the teams’ ideas where you can. Finally, if you do reject the feedback, share the barriers, and ask them to continue to contribute.
  3. Radio Silence. Another indication that your team may not be voting for you is if they go silent or become unresponsive during meetings and discussions. Instead of participating in the conversation, they may shut down or disengage, leading to missed opportunities and a lack of progress. As a leader, creating an open and safe environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas is essential. Radio Silence and Total Agreement are similar forms of resistance. As a leader, it’s helpful to be transparent by acknowledging the silence, how it makes you feel, and your desire to have them contribute in the moment. Ask what barriers are keeping the team silent. You can do this in a one-on-one setting to promote openness. If necessary, find team members interested in speaking, and ask them to come prepared to engage at specific times in the meeting (yes, you can plant audience participation in your gatherings).
  4. No Collaboration. Teamwork is essential in any successful organization. If your team is not collaborating or working together to achieve goals, it could be a sign that they aren’t voting for you or the team. Take the time to have one on one conversations with each member of your team and find potential barriers, set expectations, and follow up.
  5. Withholding Information. If your team seems to be hiding information from you or not sharing updates, it could be a sign that they don’t trust you or your leadership abilities. In most businesses, information is a form and source of power. By holding cards, team members can broker power, influence decisions, and gain a sense of control. This is a sign that you may have limited or partial trust of your team. They aren’t voting for you without faith in you, your intentions for them, or your goals.
  6. Undermining You (Publicly or Private). This is one of the most toxic behaviors in a team. If your team members are openly criticizing or questioning your decisions and actions to others, it’s a clear sign that they may not be voting for you as their leader. This behavior can also manifest subtly, such as passive-aggressive comments or behind-the-back gossiping. Either way, it can be harmful to the overall. As a leader, you must address these behaviors quickly and directly. Unchecked, you will lose credibility and effectiveness in leading your team.

While you may not be campaigning for mayor or governor, as a leader, you are always campaigning to gain the commitment, innovation, and resources of your teams’ efforts. Be mindful of when the votes may not be swinging your way. If not, you could find out how they feel in the exit data.

What actions do you take to get your employees to #RockTheVote for you and the team? Tell us in the chat!