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    Entries in change leadership (16)


    How inspiring are you as a leader?

    Straight up then: how inspiring are you as a leader?

    Do you even know?

    Television’s Dr Phil McGraw often asks guests getting some pop-psych on his Oprah offshoot program ‘Dr Phil’, 'How much fun are you to live with?'

    It's a brilliant question that will put you in the shoes of your partner. But the same can apply to workplaces, organizations, teams, leaders and groups.

    So how much fun are you to work for? Work with? Collaborate with? Communicate with? Do you even know? Do you need to have a chat to someone?

    Think of it like a bellows that fuels a fire with air. At the historic re-enactment tourism village in regional Victoria, Australia, about 90 minutes from Melbourne, there’s a place called Sovereign Hill.

    Here you can buy boiled sweets, watch people wear clothes of the pioneer days or get your name printed on a bushranger ‘WANTED’ poster. On a school-day visit in years gone by, I remember seeing the impact of the bellows at the town blacksmith. The Smithy would be operating the bellows using a foot-pump to stoke, feed and ‘air’ the fire and then he’d be tapping, belting and chinking out horseshoes and other historic items of metal blacksmithing in between whooshes of air.

    When you look at bellows, you see they have two actions:

    • first they draw air IN ...
    • before they can blow it OUT.


    Do you give or take?

    Are you the sucking-air-in kind of person… squeezing the life out of; the one who brightens a room just by leaving it? Do you leave people deflated and flat, beaten and feeling hopeless? Do you even know? Oh how depressing! No no!

    Rather… be the one who gives with (good) air and energy and possibility and hope. Make the environment, space, team, project and business feel fired up with air and energy because of you. Whooosh – blow fresh air and energy into the environment. Be inspiring! 

    Be filled with possibility

    When you’re leading change in a team or organisation, you have to fill the air and the environment with possibility and hope and ‘yes we can do this.’ This is not ‘yee-ha’ but rather a great feeling of capability, high likelihood and a sense of ‘we’re gonna do this because….’ and ‘we can do this because…’

    If I followed you around for a week (not in a creepy way), what would I see? How inspiring are you as a leader? 


    5 Capabilities for Leading into the Unknown

    Leaders leading in uncertain times and unknown situations are needing more flexible capabilities; a mindset of being able to flex and shift no matter what's happening. 

    To lead into the unknown - whatever your industry, field, expertise or role - here are five capabilities for keeping it together when you're not sure what's up ahead:

    1. Start Before You're Ready
    You can't wait for the script to arrive. You've got to get momentum and get doing. 

    Ray Bradbury, the science fiction, horror and fantasy writer, said, ‘First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down’. And although some believe the quote attributable to Kurt Vonnegut, another equally interesting and creative author, the message is the same: leap and the net will appear, you will adapt, you’ll work it out and you’ll be moving. We are adaptable humans. Our survival depends on it. 

    2. Like Surprises
    Scriptwriters call them 'plot twists' and we notice them as shocks, surprises or bolts from the blue. Once you’ve started before you’re ready and you’re in motion, some unexpected stuff will happen along the way. How spontaneous are you?  Do you insist on sticking with the plan or are you open to other ways, paths and possibilities?

    3. Try Something Else
    Experimenting helps you refine, edit and alter your thinking, offers, service, design or idea. It's rare for the first version to be the final version... of anything. In a world that's more accepting of failure as a learning process, you've got to see what works as well as what doesn't. As Keith Johnstone, teacher and godfather guru of improvisation says 'Do something, rather than having lengthy discussions about doing something'. 


    4. Go Co

    "If you want to see the future coming, 90% of what you need to learn you'll learn from outside your industry" - so says Gary Hammel, author of 'Leading the Revolution'.

    Thinking with diversity invites varied views, talents, experiences, cultures and backgrounds to the table or conversation to co-create good work. 'Co' is all about together. Working with others is a... co-brainer. It's impossible to do it all by yourself. Plus, others need your expertise to make what they're doing brilliant too.  

    5. Be Curious
    Being a risk taker and brave explorer in times of uncertainty can feel like it’s too big a risk; but bold actions can also reap huge rewards. Leaders who set up an environment where others can succeed are staying open to what that team can do. That means stepping into some uncertainty, some unknown and some unsure. 

    There's nothing to fear when you're leading into the unknown.

    The opposite of fear isn't bravery; it's curiosity.  


    How to deal with all that complexity and uncertainty

    With the world all VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) things can get pretty scary for our teams, clients, competitors, customers… and ourselves.
    Perception is...
    I heard a comedian say ‘perception is nine tenths of the law’; a take on the adage that possession was nine tenths of the law.

    But that's how we make our representation of the world... our perceptions. We need a map, a visual sense or a way of connecting some dots to understand what's happening. It gives us something to hold on to and helps reduce fear about unknowns.
    So where the **** are we?
    Author and Director of MIT’s Leadership Centre, Deborah Ancona shares the story of some soldiers lost in the Swiss Alps. Not knowing where they were, things got even more uncertain when it began snowing. Visibility dropped, landmarks were unknown. But later, one of the soldiers found a map in their pocket. Hooray! They worked their way through the map and found themselves out of the snow and clear to safety.
    It turns out the map was of the Pyrenees, not the Alps! It shows that, as sensemaking elder Karl Weick says, 'any old map will do'. The soldiers had purpose, focus and they were heading somewhere. The map was just a start.
    Ask these:
    So two questions to ask to deal with uncertainty and complexity are:

    • What’s going on here?
    • Now what should I do?

     These questions help us make meaning about things. You’re more able to pick up on cues and clusters of information when you’re looking to connect some dots Wondering what's going on and what you should do will help.

    Map it out
    The best way to look at what the story is and what’s going on is to map it out. Do this for yourself on a piece of paper, on a tablet or a whiteboard and most of all... for the people you're working with.
    This is 'making sense' and it often starts with chaos. Phew! That’s a relief, because we need sense making most when things are a tad crazy. Like VUCA crazy.
    Sense comes after action
    Don’t just sit and wonder or be all talk. Making sense is about action. Think, map and act and then think and map some more.
    In sense making we are constantly iterating, changing, building, developing, growing and shifting our understanding. Things can’t help but be shaped and shifted when we talk about them.
    In a VUCA world, things will never be totally ‘right’ or ‘all right’. There will always be more change. Get used to that and keep making sense by mapping it out.


    The Rise of Authentic

    It's refreshing to see books, journals and blog posts speak about how authenticity in leadership and communications matter. How vulnerability is the new black. That when a leader exposes their human underbelly, their teams will connect, be inspired and do the good work. 

    But what's authentic? Gabrielle Dolan's new book Ignite takes a great hit at it. She says it's about being real. Real talk, real leadership, real results. She's spot on. 

    Real. It's needed because too many leaders continue to :

    • Deliver dull PowerPoint packs full of bullet points following a template
    • Use 'insert chart' or 'draw table' commands to put boxes and shapes in presentation documents
    • Spend days and days and hours and hours of theirs and other people's time trying to get a presentation pack looking just right before they send out the 34 pages of detailed, boxy, dot pointed drivel.

    It's so fake it's unreal. 

    The team isn't engaged and they're not really, truly listening. They're busy listening to and thinking other more interesting and inspiring things. Things that involve them, make sense to them and give them an insight to something else, something bigger. That hefty wad of information is not only lacking authenticity, it's dull, boring, uninspiring. They tune out. Yawn!

    So how do you be authentic? Now, today and tomorrow?

    Here's how:

    • Show your people what you're thinking. Your thoughts. It might not all be finalized right now but show them a low fidelity outline, a rough sketch of 'here's how this could look.' 
    • Be honest with them: 'This may not be the finished thing, but here's what I'd love us to think about creating'. 
    • Get their input. What do they reckon. How do they see it? What could they do with it? How could they shape it, share it and drive it?
    • Share your thinking, that's what's authentic and human.That's a start. It may not be the end point but it's the 'now' point. 

    This is the vulnerable leader. They're saying via their behavior : I do not know all. I am relinquishing command and control, I am collaborative leader, leading a team of humans who all have skills, knowledge and tell me what you think.

    Your team, organisation and industry need to know who you are and what you That's authentic. 

    Put it out there even if it's not finished, final and fully done. 

    What happens next that will be authentic! 


    Do you know what the future of work will look like? 

    Can you imagine the effects of teaching computers to understand? It's happening now... not just thinking computers but understanding computers. 

    What will that mean for the future of our work?

    At the REMIX Summit in Sydney recently, the focus was on the future and the intersection of technology, culture and entrepreneurship. There will be more freelancing - so how do you hold a culture together in that type of environment?

    We'll need to be stronger leaders. 

    Fast, small technology is proving to be both an enabler and a disruptor. Look at that 'smart' phone you've got there and what its capable of. 
    Despite us not being able to exactly predict human behaviour, we've got to remember that work is about us... it's about people... humans.

    A great deal of our work is knowledge work and knowledge knows no borders. In the future, you'll see your career as a lattice... not a ladder. Careers, opportunities, jobs, roles and pathways will criss cross and complement; they won't be straight up and down.

    Workplaces will need to be more attractive experiences that bring people together, evolving into vibrant 24/7 precincts that aren't just about work. 

    Pass me my bathrobe please!
    One of the Remix Summit speakers suggested the 'hotel experience' would come to workplaces, where we feel welcome at work, where we are less of an employee and more of a guest. 
    What does the future of work mean for leaders leading in these environments that are uncertain, changing and complex? 

    Leaders will need to be sense makers... everyday.

    At the heart of it, leaders will need to make quicker and clearer sense of things, for themselves, the people they lead and for others they interact with. They'll need to engage across even more diverse interests and cultures and they'll need to be aligning and realigning their teams to the strategic shifts that become constant and frequent. 
    For some more detailed reading pleasure, CEDA the Committee for Economic Development here in Australia released their Australia's Future Workforce Report today and you can get hold of it here. 

    How will you keep adapting for the future of work? How will you keep the team connected, the culture thriving, the workplace adapting and the competition afraid of your bold responses?

    In a quote from the Remix Summit:
    The work of the future will be at the edges of what we know.

    Keep looking, learning and pushing the edges of your work. You're gonna need it for the future.