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    Entries in leadership (76)

    Monday
    Dec032018

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work.

    1. A leader presented the team with a 'roadmap' of what was ahead. It was a spreadsheet table full of words.

    2. A manager discussed the need for a team member to 'step up' and showed them a page with specific details. It was boxes of text going across the page.

    3. A sales team leader presented at the annual conference and inspired the team to 'lift' their performance. They showed a list of dot points going down the screen.

    Our language -- and our work -- are rich in metaphors. If you're speaking in them, then why not show them? ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿฝ Show... a roadmap -- or at least a road! :-)

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Show a series of steps that rise, diagonally up the page.

    ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿพ Show information that lifts up from the current level of performance.

    Help people make sense of what you're saying and communicating by matching the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work. 

    Monday
    Dec032018

    Bad systems beat good people

     

    'A bad system will beat a good person every time' - so said W. Edwards Deming. 

    You've got some great people in your team, on your project, in that meeting, attending the workshop. You really have. Great people.  

    The thing is... the system - whatever system is at play in the project, meeting, workshop -often isn't working to support those great people. It may well be stifling them, stopping them, slowing them down or just slowly breaking their spirit, enthusiasm and sense that they can achieve something. 

    Let those great people give the great ideas, suggestions, hunches, hopes and insights they have. Create a system that leverages the people and doesn't limit them. 

    When you plan your next meeting, workshop, session, project, what systems will support the people to bring their greatness? That's the stuff to fix. Don't blame the people. Remedy the system or structure that's inhibiting them, hindering them or keeping them from doing their best. 

    Wednesday
    Nov282018

    This is the era of ease

    This is the era of ease.

    The world of work has changed. If you're a leader, you need to be more collaborative, able to help a group of individuals play to their strengths and get great work done.

    You need to be able to make the workplace safe for them to be themselves. And to be able to bring them together, to remove barriers, roadblocks and obstacles to their progress - not create them.

    This is a bigger role than just you and your title, your package, ego or status. You'll need to bring empathy, great listening skills, clever questioning capabilities and the ability to chill the %$#& out - to stop being so driven, anxious and intense.

    'Facilitation' means ease, to make easier. Today's world of work needs you to be a leader who makes things easier. That's making progress, meetings, problem-solving, conversations, influence, starting and finishing things - all easier.

    Help make it all easier. This is the era of ease.

    Wednesday
    Nov282018

    How safe was that meeting or workshop you were just in? 


    Every time we're invited to a meeting or to participate in a workshop or conversation we're either a participant or the convener/leader/facilitator of the session. 

    Levels of engagement continue to drop across workplaces, yet we're increasingly needing to get people 'on board', 'aligned' or 'buying-in' to strategies, plans, directions and programs of work.

    That workshop, meeting, planning session or conversation you most recently attended - or led - may not have been that 'safe'. 

    Safety - in this case, psychological safety - was less than it could have been. 

    It wasn't safe for people to take risks, to speak up and contribute their ideas or to challenge and discuss in ways that help solve problems, resolve conflict or progress a project to deliver great value. 

    At the intersections of engagement and outcomes
    If you've ever felt steamrolled or stifled, shut down or stopped in a meeting or workshop, I call that a 'Hostage Situation'. It's where outcomes over engagement are the priority. 

    Just as awkward and uncomfortable can be the 'Yawn Fest' where it's low engagement, low outcomes. 

    Sure it's all fun and games at the 'High Priced Party' where we're having high engagement but getting zip zero done. 

    Ultimately we're aiming for the sweet spot of 'High Impact', high engagement, high outcomes. 

    It all looks like this...

     



    ...and I don't think you get there by accident or by default. It's achieved via great design, great facilitation, leadership and safety. 

    Work at it from both perspectives
    I’ve been working with a couple of teams in organisations at two levels or ‘fronts’: 

    1. To help the team feel more comfortable to speak up and contribute their thoughts in meetings and workshops. They have great stuff to give but sometimes they feel shy, uncertain, worried, unsure about what they’re thinking and how best to express it... and how it will be received. 

    and

    2. To help the leaders of teams and projects lead better, safer, more effective meetings, workshops and sessions. 

    You might think that the team just needs to ‘lean in’ or ‘toughen up’ or ‘speak up for goodness sake’ or ‘get over it and get into it’, but that’s not how they might see things. It's this impatience or lack of empathy that's got us here. 

    Additionally, you might believe that the leaders are doing the best they can or it’s not their fault, or there’s so much to do in so little time that of course, they just need to just ‘get on with it’. But there is a way where you can make great progress, and do it within the constraints of a well-designed and facilitated process. 

    Plus... it’s not a clean ‘us and them’ because you can be an ‘us’ in one meeting e.g. a participant, and then shuffle out of that meeting room and straight into another where you’re the ‘them’, the leader of the meeting. 
    We can adopt both of these roles at different times, even if we’re simply having a 1:1 or a 1:2 meeting or conversation about progress, status, problem-solving or planning. 


    Work at making it safer
    The topic of psychological safety isn’t new, but the adoption and acknowledgment of it isn't widespread… enough. Amy Edmonson's TEDx Talk on the topic is a must watch. 

    There are meetings, workshops, conversations and interactions going on in workplaces all the time where people aren’t contributing or speaking up or giving their best; because it’s not safe (enough) for them (their level of safety) to do so. 

    In a leader’s efforts to ‘get shit done’ they might also be stomping on people, steamrolling or shutting things down - often without knowing it. Their only hint is 'people aren't engaged' or 'they're not contributing.'

    Contrast that to a leader who’s been given the feedback that they are a little steam-rolly and then they may swing too far the other way; they become hesitant, uncertain, ambiguous, treading on eggshells and not providing enough direction or leadership or enough constraints for people to do great work. 

    In the workshops I lead with clients on both developing better Leader as Facilitator / facilitation skills and being a great participant / speaking up skills, I hear and see the challenges that each group feels and experiences. 

    Check with a tool
    In planning your next workshop, meeting or conversation, check over how safe is it for people to do all of these things I've mapped out in the grid or matrix-ish thing below.

    Or to not do them. Safe for people to not do them. 
    There can also be the expectation that 'you will speak up' or 'you will contribute' (when we do that dreadful 'go around the room' cliched technique - no please, stop it, don't do that anymore!) when in fact, people might not be ready. Some of that stuff simply shouldn't be forced and there are many other tools, techniques and processes that help get contributions rather than 'around the room' in order. 

    So do this...
    1. Print or save and tick off, be aware of and make deliberate efforts on these. 
    2. Let the team know upfront that you're trying to make it safer to do some of these things. Let them know you'll be wanting to hear how it's going. 
    3. During or on conclusion of the session, ask the team how safe it was to do some of these things - depending on the type of meeting or workshop you held. You'll get instant and immediate feedback. 
    4. Plan and think about how you'll incorporate these into the design, the process, the agenda and  the activities (yes, these are all different things: design, process, agenda, activities) of your workshops, meetings and sessions. 

    We all need to consider how we can make it safer for those who've been stomped on, interrupted or shut down w-a-y too many times in the past. We're all carrying scar tissue of times we weren't given the environment to give our best. Ouch... still hurts. 

    You can make the next interactions with the team more productive, creative, collaborative and effective... when they're safer. 

    And that will most certainly feel good, for everyone. Safe and good. 

    Wednesday
    Sep062017

    Have you got these Future Ready skills?

    How to get ready for the stuff that hasn't even happened yet

     

    So many articles and predictions can worry us wild about how jobs are changing, workplaces need to adapt and plenty of roles that are there now... won’t be soon.
     
    You don't need to be a futurist to work out that things keep changing and if you stay where and what you are…. yes, the future could indeed get more tricky for you. 
     
    Beyond the tech-crazy predictions and timelines of when it’s all going to hit the fan, there’s a more sensible and practical response that organisations and their leaders need -- that is, to get ready for the stuff that hasn’t happened yet.
     
    There’s a need to be future ready and there's a quartet of skills, a foursome of domains that will serve you so very well.  While these may not be as specific as in ‘go to this course’ or ‘get this certification’ (don't by the way) -- there are some domains of expertise that will help us handle what’s ahead, no matter our role, project, team, enterprise or industry. 
     
    The Institute for the Future and the World Economic Forum have both tipped in their thoughts over recent years on what’s needed and while that’s all good in a predictive sense, here’s what I’m seeing and hearing day in day out with teams and projects on being future ready. That is, ready for what your clients, the industry and the world might need of you, and gah! sooner than you might think.
     
     

    The Foursome of 'Future Ready'

    Think 
    We’re the only creatures who can think about how we think, so it’s worth thinking about how we can think better! This domain is about getting insights now… not waiting so long for hindsights to appear. Even though hindsight is a great thing, we need to get to them quicker so we can respond quicker. We need to be aware, awake, insight-full, reading, learning, thinking, reflective, improving, evolving, staying open…
     
    In the middle of last century - that sounds so o-l-d, the 1950s - two colleagues, Joe and Harry created the classic tool for identifying your relationship to yourself and others – the Johari Window.

    I remember laughing (or cringing) with colleagues about leaders whose ‘window wasn’t even there, let alone open!’ when it came to their lack of thinking and self awareness.
     
    Johari got you to assess yourself – and think – on some adjectives about your personality and whether they were ‘open’, ‘hidden’, ‘blind’ or ‘unknown’ to you.
     
    (Looks like Joe and Harry were clearly onto the Startup trend of combining their names or two words to create killer, entertaining business tools. Joe + Harry = Johari. See this giggle on fake startup websites for today’s tech versions of Joe and Harry.)
     
    There’s room in the Think domain for us to be more open, to work to reveal things that are hidden to us or we are blinded to, and to uncover the stuff that is still unknown to us.
     
     

    Connect
    If we’re intrinsically wired to connect with others, then this domain is about how we connect ideas and people and environments. We need to be synthesisers, sensemakers, distillers and integrators. To be able to take lots of stuff and find the pieces that belong, that work or could work together.  It’s integration, not isolation. Also it's anti-silo.
     
    I like to ask teams, “Do you see where the white spaces are here?" where you could move something to, where there is opportunity or possibility that's untapped.
     
    Sure, artificial intelligence will be able to do some of this for us, but there’s something magical about human connections with others, with information, with places and spaces that we will need forever.

     

    Adapt
    How do you adapt to changing conditions, situations, information and environments? This domain is about agility not rigidity. How willing are you to test, learn, experiment and dwell on the whole ‘failure IS an option’ thing? Is your project in such control-freak mode that trust is low and we can’t try something to see what happens?

    Try transforming something rather than tinkering with everything as I wrote recently.

    This is our need to be agile-ish; being able to pivot, change direction and give up on a thing you’ve been fighting for; being willing to embrace a new direction or belief. Yes, this can be tougher than we think. Aaah back to that thinking domain again!

     

    Share 
    How you spread, share and radiate your thinking, ideas, messages and solutions to others in your nearest loops …and wider loops is what this domain is all about. It’s how you pull people in to be part of something not just sending it out and crossing your fingers with hope. How do you bring people in? It’s inclusion not exclusion.

    How can you share things that help build, not break. This is being an influencer, shaper, communicator, engager… on topics that people might not be initially interested in or they have longstanding biases about.
     
     
    There’s an opportunity for us to think bigger; to make bigger shifts in our teams and enterprise regarding what we're going to build capability in.
     
    Think.
    Connect.
    Adapt.
    Share.  

     
    Together these will help get you ready for the future… aaaaaaand oh look, it’s here already.