3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know

A Journey From the Unknown to the Known

Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

I often write about paradoxes, well, because life is full of them. Really. And, as we recognize a paradox, we are poised to reconcile what is seemingly unknown into something that is known. Yep.

And, how does that aid leaders? Well, first, I consider leadership something that lives inside of everyone. Yep.

Leadership is something we can all do; and, in fact, leadership is something that most of us already do. Really. In some way in our life, we lead. Even if the leading you do is just for you; you are still leading.

And, we also know that in leadership the self is where it all starts. Yep. Also tue. Leadership goes out from you to everyone and everything else. It’s just how it works.

Leaders also need to know that most things are unknown, and that we know far less than is knowable. Important.

Therefore, inside of a paradox, there is an opportunity to turn something unknown into known, which is helpful for yourself, yep, and for everyone you are leading.

Now, before we go further, let’s define leadership, so we are all on the same page. Okay? Good. Here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

Lexico

Right. Pretty ambiguous. Hm.

Let’s try lead instead. Here we go.

lead

Pronunciation /lēd/ /lid/ 

TRANSITIVE VERB led

[WITH OBJECT]

Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.

Show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them.

Lexico

Ah, much better. Here is what we have so far. A leader is someone that goes with someone, or shows someone something by going in front of or beside them. Very good.

Alright, so what are these three paradoxes? Right. Let’s get right into our discussion, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Kevar Whilby on Unsplash

1. The Real and The Ideal

As a leader it is important to know the current reality. Meaning to know your strengths and weaknesses, and that of the teams. Super important. Yet, that’s not all. Nope.

You must also communicate that reality, and do so often. One of the most important functions in leadership is setting the pace and the reality. A reality that will include both strengths and weaknesses. It has to.

We all have areas to develop, as do teams, and when we own them, guess what?

We have now created a context that welcomes development, one that is open and growth-oriented. Fun.

Now, once you know and have communicated the current reality, it is time to begin to balance the real (current state or reality) with the ideal (future state or reality). Very important.

And, how this is done is predicated on knowing that everything we do today informs tomorrow, and that tomorrow is simply a mirror of today. Yep. Say more? Of course. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

2. Today and Tomorrow

Alright, so when we cast a vision for our life or our team, we are setting down in language that which we want to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Might be a week, a month, a year, or several years. Depends.

What matters is that we tie that vision, those specific goals, to objectives and priorities that we can set our sights on and work towards each day. Yep.

When we connect our daily actions to our long-term goals, we are actively creating tomorrow today. Wait, what? Yes. It’s true.

When we take actions today that are connected to goals we have in the future, we are creating our future from this very moment. Therefore, when we take action today, tomorrow ends up being a mirror of today. Meaning?

We are actively actualizing tomorrow’s goals today. One action at a time. Fun. And, truth.

The concept of creating your future from today is a very powerful concept for leaders, teams, and, well, everyone. And, what happens when we create a context full of this type of possibility?

Well, we lead, yes, and so do those around us. It works that way.

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

3. Lead and Follow

Right, so leadership as we’ve defined it has to do with going out in front, paving the way, if you will, with a vision that ties back to objectives and priorities that you, and your team, if you have one, work on each day. Yep.

And, when you are out in front like that, sometimes, you will have to pull back a bit, as the team moves closer to you. Yep. Or, if they are moving quickly, you may have to go out in front even further. Depends. And, guess what?

Sometimes, your team will move right on past you. Yep. Can and does happen. It is a beautiful thing to see really. And, when that happens?

No problem here, you, like they would, catch back up. Simple. The point?

That leadership is a complex, and yet very simple, set of relationships you have. First with yourself. Always with yourself first. And, then with everyone else around you.

Relationships are leadership. And, leadership is about having high-quality relationships. Yep. Bottom line? Sure.

Leaders lead and follow, both. They are, in fact, one and the same. Not separate at all. One.

Alright, so there are three leadership paradoxes that, when we have an awareness of how they function, create a context where we are connecting the unknown of tomorrow, or 5 years from now, to today. Meaning?

That we are creating the known from the unknown. In this very moment, in fact. And, well, that’s fun, and powerful.

#creatingthefuture, #fromtheunknowntothenkown, #humandevelopment, #leadandfollow, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipparadox, #therealandtheideal, #todayandtomorrow

The Paradox of Servant Leadership

Why Care, Compassion, and Accountability Are Engaging

Photo by Cam Bradford on Unsplash

I’m always reflecting upon service. It’s always been a big part of my life. I started out in the “service industry” at 16, and never, really, ever looked back.

What I’ve been reflecting upon even more recently, is just how important service is in, well, everything we do. It’s not just about the work we do, in the professional sense.

It’s more about all of the work we do. All of it. And, it starts with each of us, and how we take care of and, in effect, serve ourselves. Really.

I was telling a colleague of mine today, as they prepared to train a group of local leadership, that in order to hold other people accountable, we must first hold ourselves accountable. It’s how it works.

Something this colleague knows very well indeed.

And, as was aforementioned, service is no exception to this rule. In order to serve others, we must first learn to serve ourselves.

Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

We are all looking for places to serve. Places where we can make a difference, where we can be a part of something larger than ourselves. A paradox? Yep.

Because in order to be a part of something larger than yourself, you must first be in touch with yourself, know yourself, treat yourself with love and kindness, and hold yourself accountable to a standard.

A standard that is engaged with and committed to creating and effecting change. Changing that which we know, the status quo, with something, well, quite different.

Within this possibility, there are innumerable opportunities to serve. Fun.

Alright, ready? Good. Here we go.

Servant Leadership

I’ve written a couple of articles about servant leadership, which includes, The Blog + Video Series #14: Servant Leadership: A Practical Leadership Style for Life and Work.

The basic tenant of servant leadership is that service is paramount to leadership as a philosophy and a practice. Both.

That to lead, we must lead from a perspective that fully understands that nothing happens without the entire team; and, that, it is because of each team members contribution to the team that movement and traction are even possible.

Servant leadership upends the traditional leadership hierarchy, putting the needs of front-line workers first. Important.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

And, as we’ve already discussed, servant leadership is, both conceptually and practically, a leadership style that works for all aspects of life.

When we take care of ourselves and lead from within, we can then take care of others and lead from without. If not, well, true leadership of any kind is impossible.

Sometimes there is confusion about servant leadership.

Meaning that people sometimes connect servant leadership to a laissez faire type context. And, servant leadership both conceptually and practically is far from that type of context.

In fact, a servant leadership context will often be full of standards and expectations that are higher than other leadership contexts. Yep. Common. Why?

Well, inside of serving, as was aforementioned, is the need to create change. Creating new possibilities, new ways of communicating, new ways of, well, doing most things.

When you create a context that is committed to changing the status quo, no matter how small or large that change is, there have to be higher standards and expectations.

And, in some cases, the highest standard must be demanded. Why?

Photo by john vicente on Unsplash

Because there is so much more to accomplish. That’s it really. More work, more movement, more traction, more change. Amazing.

And, where there is change and innovation of this magnitude, there must be great care, compassion, and accountability, both for the self, the team, and the organization. And, yep, for the nation, and the world too.

Care

What is engagement, really? When you think about that word, what do you see, or think about? Hm.

For me, I think about contexts that are brimming with challenges and difficulties, yep, and celebrations. Why?

Because when you are truly engaged with yourself, and the people around you, you will experience both. You have to.

Being engaged, is living a full life, and the giving out of that life to everyone around you. It is extremely fun and rewarding and, yep, also difficult.

All service, regardless of the context, professional or personal, requires determination, persistence, and resilience. Oh, and great care. Yep.

When you are engaged, you care. Simple. Oftentimes, people get confused and think that when things are difficult that there is a problem. A paradox? Yep.

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

When things are difficult, you are engaged, you are doing, and you are creating. No problem here.

When are there problems?

Well, if you subscribe to notions of problems, then the only time there are real problems is when there is disengagement. Where things are easy, moving simply, no speed bumps. Why?

Because, if there are no issues, nothing to overcome, then, nothing is really happening. Yep.

Now, that’s not really a problem either. Not really.

It’s only a problem if you are looking to be engaged. I always know when I am most engaged at work or in my life. How?

Because there is always, and I mean always, something to celebrate, and something to overcome. A challenge, always.

These engaging contexts also require, as was aforementioned, great care. Really. Why?

Because when you are fully engaged, and are working through issues that arise, care about all things and everyone, yourself, and all those around you, is always there.

And, that is because you are going through something.

You are developing, iterating, and, yep, in some cases, even transforming. Beautiful.

Photo by Gita Krishnamurti on Unsplash

Compassion

Because a servant leadership context is a highly engaging one, where people will bring their all every day, compassion is also required.

Compassion for yourself, for how very, very hard it is sometimes, and for those around you. Sometimes, people will decide it’s just too much, and that is okay.

There was a time when I desperately wanted everyone to stay. And, I would coach people endlessly to this end. No pun intended.

Yet, a servant leadership context is not what everyone is looking for, and that is also okay. Knowing this releases you and everyone else from an obligation that truly doesn’t exist.

And, practicing compassion is what that looks like. Understanding that people will leave. And, guess what?

It’s better for them to do so.

Better to find a context that suits them more, feels better to them, and will in the long run be much more beneficial for them. Important.

Accountability

One of the most paradoxical aspects of servant leadership is in the area of accountability. And, there was a time where accountability within a servant leadership paradigm also confused me.

The bottom line?

Accountability matters. People actually want to be held accountable to a higher standard. Knowing that their work and service, whatever it is, is making a change in the world.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Again, no matter how small or large that change is, matters much less, than that people get to participate in something that, yes, inspires them, and, even more importantly, actively creates change in the world. Fun.

It is a ton of work. Yep. Yet, who ever said that life was supposed to be easy?

I know. That is such a cliche, and yet it does work here.

Think about any change, nay, think about some of the largest institutional and cultural changes of all time. Now, answer this question.

Were they easy?

Nope, not a single one. They are not supposed to be. Therefore, having a high standard and instituting accountability is not only needed, it is also positively reinforcing the servant leadership context that has been created. How?

Because serving yourself, setting the highest standard for yourself that you can, means that you will also set that same standard for the people around you. And?

They will rise to meet it, just as you are.

For more on Servant Leadership check out these resources.

#accountabilityandleadership, #careandleadership, #compassionandleadership, #creatingchange, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #servantleadership, #teamdevelopment

The Blog + Video Series #15 – The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

The Transformation Video Series

I’ve written a lot about vulnerability lately. Why? Well, for many years, I avoided vulnerability at all costs. Really, I did. I was not interested. Actually, I was disinterested to the point of high levels of anxiety. Today? Not the case.

Today I believe that, although being vulnerable is hard work, it is where all the wonders of being a human being live.

Wonders like innovation, resilience, love, compassion, and much more.

In fact, writing an article like this just a short two years ago would have been impossible. Too vulnerable, too much unknown, too much anxiety. We can pretend, or feel as if, anxiety is only our issue. Let me tell you unequivocally, it is not.

Many, many people all across the world suffer from anxiety. An aside, real quick, promise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fernando-cferdo-6x2ikgi6spu-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

I was once in a therapist’s office, and they were talking to me about anxiety levels, and I said something like, I believe the entire population of the United States suffers from low-grade anxiety. What did they say? Yep, that’s true.

Now, I could write more about that, however, I’d like to get back to the current topic. Vulnerability.

I believe that vulnerability is important to our individual development. Showing us where we have growth opportunities if we choose, to be vulnerable, and grow into and eventually out of these opportunities. That’s development.

I also believe that vulnerability is a transformational space, which anyone can enter. Of course, of their choosing, when they are ready. What happens, you ask, when you are vulnerable on a regular basis?

Well, many things. However, I think there are 4 things that are distinct to being vulnerable where we get back much more by being vulnerable than we do by making the choice to not be vulnerable.

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Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Alright, here, then is

The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

1. Connection

There is something about being vulnerable that exposes us to more of our own humanity. And, when we are exposed to more of our humanity, we get to know more about everyone else’s humanity. It works that way.

And knowing both about our own humanity, while also knowing about everyone else’s, gives us more sight about our shared humanity.

Connecting more deeply to the similarity of those around us. When we can connect with others in that way, we get more out of our relationships. Really.

Think about the relationships you have. Are you able to be vulnerable? Hm. If not, well, you may want to rethink those relationships. Why?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is callum-shaw-wwmrq8ohh5i-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Because to be vulnerable you must be in a context that is safe, and with people that you trust. If you are not, vulnerability is way too scary, and rightfully so.

When we are vulnerable, we are exposing parts of ourselves that we don’t normally expose. And, it takes safety and trust to get there. It does.

Therefore if you are in relationships with people where vulnerability is out of the question, I would question the need for those relationships. Hard. Yet, might be needed.

When we are in a safe space, with people we trust, we can be more open, and inside of that openness, being vulnerable becomes more available.

And, as was aforementioned, when we get to share that vulnerable space with someone else, we transform that relationship into something quite different. Beautiful.

2. Compassion

Another quite lovely byproduct of being vulnerable is the opportunity to develop more compassion.

See, when we are vulnerable, we have the opportunity to experience grace for ourselves in doing something that makes us either nervous, fearful, or anxious.

We may not always extend ourselves that grace and the accompanying compassion, yet it is there. As was aforementioned, I was actively disinterested in vulnerability for many years. Over 20 in fact.

However, that does not mean I was never vulnerable. I was. And, inside of those vulnerable moments, some of which were long moments, I did not extend myself grace, nor the accompanying compassion. Nope.

Yet, know that developing more compassion for yourself inside of being more actively vulnerable, is possible. How do I know? Because I am actively vulnerable on a regular basis today. Every day in fact.

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Anyone that participates in contexts and experiences that stretch them, that make them feel vulnerable, deserves grace and compassion; and, I can provide both to myself today. Growth.

Another opportunity inside of being vulnerable more often, and developing more compassion for yourself, is that you will also develop more compassion for others. It works that way.

Anytime we can extend ourselves more of something, we can now also extend it to others. And, believe me, everyone can use more grace and compassion today. Seriously.

Inside the space, you create to be more vulnerable, while extending to yourself and everyone else around you more grace and compassion, you have transformed yourself and that relationship.

In those precious moments, our shared humanity is realized, and we can recognize ourselves in each other. It is a beautiful experience. Connecting with another human being on that level is transformation.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is yulia-pantiukhina-yoycsgkakqe-unsplash.jpg
Photo by yulia pantiukhina on Unsplash

3. Courage

It takes courage to be vulnerable often; and, when we are more often vulnerable, we get to develop more courage and resilience. Often, I think, people believe that some people have courage and resilience and others do not. Not true.

Like any other skill set, courage and resilience can be developed.

You can grow yourself into a more courageous and resilient self by doing things that are outside of your comfort zone.

And, it just so happens that being vulnerable is outside of most people’s comfort zone. I would actually argue that it is outside of everyone’s comfort zone. That is the nature of vulnerability inside of being human.

When we create the opportunity to grow into a more courageous and resilient self, we also get to model that behavior for people around us.

Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and, yes, even people we don’t know at all. Inspiring.

And, inside of creating more inspiration in this world by being more open and vulnerable, developing ourselves, while also showing others that developmental growth is possible for them too, you get transformation.

Transformation for yourself, yes; and, transformation for those that choose to journey with you into vulnerable situations and contexts, which are created by stepping out of your comfort zone and into spaces that are vulnerable.

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

4. Collaboration

When we have deeper connections with ourselves, and likewise, with people close to us, built upon safety and trust, there is an increased likelihood of more collaboration. Fun.

Though I think I’ve always naturally gravitated towards collaborative contexts and people that share a collaborative spirit with me, I was not always available to these types of contexts or people.

Remember, I actively avoided and resisted my own vulnerability for a long time, which also means that I, in many ways, missed out on deeper relationships with people where collaboration was more possible.

Now, I am surrounded by these types of contexts and people.

Even with people that I at one time did not share this type of connection, that connection is more apparent today. And, it can be for you too.

When we are available to a natural human inclination within us to share ourselves with others, to connect with them deeply, and to share all that we have to offer, we are or have become natural collaborators. Really. At that moment, or in those moments, it is true.

A byproduct of entering into collaborative contexts more regularly also means that there is a higher likelihood for innovation to occur. And, inside of innovative contexts transformation is regularly apparent. Why?

Because when we are vulnerably collaborating, we are out on a limb, deeply connected to others in that safe and trusting context, where courage flourishes, as does innovation. And, what often follows innovation is transformation.

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Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Closing

In closing, I will also offer that where there is the possibility of developing more of a vulnerable self, there is also the possibility of developing less nervousness, fear, and anxiety.

What I’ve learned in the past three years, is that avoiding and resisting things that make us uncomfortable only brings more nervousness, fear, and anxiety. An example? Sure.

When I was working in the private sector, before going back to University at 33, I worked for several large corporations; and, at one of them, I wanted desperately to be promoted into a leadership role.

Well, at that time, I had a great supervisor and mentor, and that goal became a reality.

As many of you know, when you are in leadership roles, the need to speak in front of groups, your team, business, or organization is rather mandatory. It’s part of it. How did I feel about that? Horribly anxious. Really. Sky-high anxiety.

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Photo by Product School on Unsplash

I remember the first time being in front of the group, I would eventually lead, at a district meeting. I had a 5-minute speech to give. 5-minutes, that’s all. Might as well have been an hour. Phew.

I was so anxious that the paper I was using for a guide, actually I was reading directly from it, was shaking like a leaf in my hand. Actually, my whole body was shaking like a leaf. Really.

Well, I continued to take on small parts in the meetings, 5 minutes became 10, and 10 developed, over time, into giving entire 1 to 1.5-hour district meetings to the group by myself. The point?

It took time. One step at a time. Bite-sized chunks, as they say, within a context where safety and trust were present.

And, yep, I developed more courage, resilience, much deeper connections with that team, and we did become highly collaborative. Fun.

Since that time, I’ve led several teams, including the team I am on right now and have taught at University. Transformation.

And, you can also be a part of a vulnerable transformation. It’s not complicated, yet it is, as we’ve discussed. Difficult.

Yet, when you take it one step at a time, one action at a time, knowing that it is a process, not a light switch, you can rest in ease knowing that if you persist you will be doing vulnerability more often.

And, guess what? Without even knowing it you will have developed deeper connections, more compassion, and courage, and you will probably find yourself in collaborative contexts more often.

Vulnerability is transformational, and you can partake in it if you choose. Choose well.

Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash

#emotionalintelligence, #growth, #leadershipdevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #vulnerability, #vulnerabilityandcollaboration, #vulnerabilityandcomfortzone, #vulnerabilityandcompassion, #vulnerabilityandconnection, #vulnerabilityandcourage, #vulnerabilityandleadership, #vulnerabilityandresilience, #vulnerabilityandstrength

The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash

I’ve written a lot about vulnerability lately. Why? Well, for many years, I avoided vulnerability at all costs. Really, I did. I was not interested. Actually, I was disinterested to the point of high levels of anxiety. Today? Not the case.

Today I believe that, although being vulnerable is hard work, it is where all the wonders of being a human being live.

Wonders like innovation, resilience, love, compassion, and much more.

In fact, writing an article like this just a short two years ago would have been impossible. Too vulnerable, too much unknown, too much anxiety. We can pretend, or feel as if, anxiety is only our issue. Let me tell you unequivocally, it is not.

Many, many people all across the world suffer from anxiety. An aside, real quick, promise.

Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

I was once in a therapist’s office, and they were talking to me about anxiety levels, and I said something like, I believe the entire population of the United States suffers from low-grade anxiety. What did they say? Yep, that’s true.

Now, I could write more about that, however, I’d like to get back to the current topic. Vulnerability.

I believe that vulnerability is important to our individual development. Showing us where we have growth opportunities if we choose, to be vulnerable, and grow into and eventually out of these opportunities. That’s development.

I also believe that vulnerability is a transformational space, which anyone can enter. Of course, of their choosing, when they are ready. What happens, you ask, when you are vulnerable on a regular basis?

Well, many things. However, I think there are 4 things that are distinct to being vulnerable where we get back much more by being vulnerable than we do by making the choice to not be vulnerable.

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Alright, here, then is

The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

1. Connection

There is something about being vulnerable that exposes us to more of our own humanity. And, when we are exposed to more of our humanity, we get to know more about everyone else’s humanity. It works that way.

And knowing both about our own humanity, while also knowing about everyone else’s, gives us more sight about our shared humanity.

Connecting more deeply to the similarity of those around us. When we can connect with others in that way, we get more out of our relationships. Really.

Think about the relationships you have. Are you able to be vulnerable? Hm. If not, well, you may want to rethink those relationships. Why?

Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Because to be vulnerable you must be in a context that is safe, and with people that you trust. If you are not, vulnerability is way too scary, and rightfully so.

When we are vulnerable, we are exposing parts of ourselves that we don’t normally expose. And, it takes safety and trust to get there. It does.

Therefore if you are in relationships with people where vulnerability is out of the question, I would question the need for those relationships. Hard. Yet, might be needed.

When we are in a safe space, with people we trust, we can be more open, and inside of that openness, being vulnerable becomes more available.

And, as was aforementioned, when we get to share that vulnerable space with someone else, we transform that relationship into something quite different. Beautiful.

2. Compassion

Another quite lovely byproduct of being vulnerable is the opportunity to develop more compassion.

See, when we are vulnerable, we have the opportunity to experience grace for ourselves in doing something that makes us either nervous, fearful, or anxious.

We may not always extend ourselves that grace and the accompanying compassion, yet it is there. As was aforementioned, I was actively disinterested in vulnerability for many years. Over 20 in fact.

However, that does not mean I was never vulnerable. I was. And, inside of those vulnerable moments, some of which were long moments, I did not extend myself grace, nor the accompanying compassion. Nope.

Yet, know that developing more compassion for yourself inside of being more actively vulnerable, is possible. How do I know? Because I am actively vulnerable on a regular basis today. Every day in fact.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Anyone that participates in contexts and experiences that stretch them, that make them feel vulnerable, deserves grace and compassion; and, I can provide both to myself today. Growth.

Another opportunity inside of being vulnerable more often, and developing more compassion for yourself, is that you will also develop more compassion for others. It works that way.

Anytime we can extend ourselves more of something, we can now also extend it to others. And, believe me, everyone can use more grace and compassion today. Seriously.

Inside the space, you create to be more vulnerable, while extending to yourself and everyone else around you more grace and compassion, you have transformed yourself and that relationship.

In those precious moments, our shared humanity is realized, and we can recognize ourselves in each other. It is a beautiful experience. Connecting with another human being on that level is transformation.

Photo by yulia pantiukhina on Unsplash

3. Courage

It takes courage to be vulnerable often; and, when we are more often vulnerable, we get to develop more courage and resilience. Often, I think, people believe that some people have courage and resilience and others do not. Not true.

Like any other skill set, courage and resilience can be developed.

You can grow yourself into a more courageous and resilient self by doing things that are outside of your comfort zone.

And, it just so happens that being vulnerable is outside of most people’s comfort zone. I would actually argue that it is outside of everyone’s comfort zone. That is the nature of vulnerability inside of being human.

When we create the opportunity to grow into a more courageous and resilient self, we also get to model that behavior for people around us.

Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and, yes, even people we don’t know at all. Inspiring.

And, inside of creating more inspiration in this world by being more open and vulnerable, developing ourselves, while also showing others that developmental growth is possible for them too, you get transformation.

Transformation for yourself, yes; and, transformation for those that choose to journey with you into vulnerable situations and contexts, which are created by stepping out of your comfort zone and into spaces that are vulnerable.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

4. Collaboration

When we have deeper connections with ourselves, and likewise, with people close to us, built upon safety and trust, there is an increased likelihood of more collaboration. Fun.

Though I think I’ve always naturally gravitated towards collaborative contexts and people that share a collaborative spirit with me, I was not always available to these types of contexts or people.

Remember, I actively avoided and resisted my own vulnerability for a long time, which also means that I, in many ways, missed out on deeper relationships with people where collaboration was more possible.

Now, I am surrounded by these types of contexts and people.

Even with people that I at one time did not share this type of connection, that connection is more apparent today. And, it can be for you too.

When we are available to a natural human inclination within us to share ourselves with others, to connect with them deeply, and to share all that we have to offer, we are or have become natural collaborators. Really. At that moment, or in those moments, it is true.

A byproduct of entering into collaborative contexts more regularly also means that there is a higher likelihood for innovation to occur. And, inside of innovative contexts transformation is regularly apparent. Why?

Because when we are vulnerably collaborating, we are out on a limb, deeply connected to others in that safe and trusting context, where courage flourishes, as does innovation. And, what often follows innovation is transformation.

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Closing

In closing, I will also offer that where there is the possibility of developing more of a vulnerable self, there is also the possibility of developing less nervousness, fear, and anxiety.

What I’ve learned in the past three years, is that avoiding and resisting things that make us uncomfortable only brings more nervousness, fear, and anxiety. An example? Sure.

When I was working in the private sector, before going back to University at 33, I worked for several large corporations; and, at one of them, I wanted desperately to be promoted into a leadership role.

Well, at that time, I had a great supervisor and mentor, and that goal became a reality.

As many of you know, when you are in leadership roles, the need to speak in front of groups, your team, business, or organization is rather mandatory. It’s part of it. How did I feel about that? Horribly anxious. Really. Sky-high anxiety.

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I remember the first time being in front of the group, I would eventually lead, at a district meeting. I had a 5-minute speech to give. 5-minutes, that’s all. Might as well have been an hour. Phew.

I was so anxious that the paper I was using for a guide, actually I was reading directly from it, was shaking like a leaf in my hand. Actually, my whole body was shaking like a leaf. Really.

Well, I continued to take on small parts in the meetings, 5 minutes became 10, and 10 developed, over time, into giving entire 1 to 1.5-hour district meetings to the group by myself. The point?

It took time. One step at a time. Bite-sized chunks, as they say, within a context where safety and trust were present.

And, yep, I developed more courage, resilience, much deeper connections with that team, and we did become highly collaborative. Fun.

Since that time, I’ve led several teams, including the team I am on right now and have taught at University. Transformation.

And, you can also be a part of a vulnerable transformation. It’s not complicated, yet it is, as we’ve discussed. Difficult.

Yet, when you take it one step at a time, one action at a time, knowing that it is a process, not a light switch, you can rest in ease knowing that if you persist you will be doing vulnerability more often.

And, guess what? Without even knowing it you will have developed deeper connections, more compassion, and courage, and you will probably find yourself in collaborative contexts more often.

Vulnerability is transformational, and you can partake in it if you choose. Choose well.

#beingvulnerable, #businessdevelopment, #developmentandgrowth, #leadershipdevelopment, #organizationaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #selftransformation, #vulnerability, #vulnerabilityandcollaboration, #vulnerabilityandcomfortzone, #vulnerabilityandconnection, #vulnerabilityandcourage, #vulnerabilityandhumanity, #vulnerabilityandleadership, #vulnerabilityandreducedanxiety, #vulnerabilityandrelationships, #vulnerabilityandresilience, #vulnerabilityandstrength, #vulnerabilityandtransformation, #vulnerable, #vulnerableascourageandstrength

The Big 5: Developing An Innovative Culture

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Photo by javier trueba on Unsplash

When I worked as a District Sales Leader at Frito-Lay, the company had an operating system for their sales teams, known as the Big 3, which consisted of the following.

  1. 1W1’s
  2. Monthly Team Meetings
  3. Ride-Alongs

I have no idea if the Big 3 is still in place, however, I do know that the system worked well. Why? There are 5 reasons. Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Establish Trust
  2. Create Alignment
  3. Develop Balance
  4. Build Collaboration
  5. Institute Accountability

Little did I know then, that these five outputs would actually show up in a different way 20 years later. Yep. How?

They showed up as important to developing and building an innovative culture. A culture grounded in trust, alignment, balance, collaboration, and, yep, accountability. The outcome? Innovation.

Alright, let’s now call these, just for fun, the Big 5. What, then, do we get when we instill the Big 5 into our teams, businesses, and organizations? A culture where innovation can thrive.

Implementing the Big 5 into your team is about developing culture. As your culture develops, you can then wrap processes and systems around that culture.

You may be wondering about developing systems first, then culture. I would advise against it. Why? Culture matters more. Simple.

Alright, let’s take a look at the Big 5.

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1. Establish Trust

I’ve written about establishing trust a couple of times. In 3 Steps and 9 Keys to Creating Safety on a Team in 5 Minutes, I write about 9 keys to creating safety on teams. And, inside of creating safety is establishing trust. Very important.

Establishing trust must come before people will feel safe. If people do not feel safe, they will hold back. Makes perfect sense. However, when there is trust, people will give all that they have, and they will also be vulnerable, try new things, go out on limbs; and, that is where innovation lives.

When there is trust between you and the team, and between each team member, you have an opportunity to create outputs and outcomes that have never been seen before. Why?

Because trust + safety + vulnerability = innovation.

Once trust and safety are in place, creating alignment is next. Creating alignment can take time. It took the team I currently work on over 2 years to create alignment. Year 1 was creating trust and safety. Year 2, creating alignment.

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2. Create Alignment

Alignment takes time. Really. It is normal for teams to move in different directions at the beginning. If you are unsure about this truth, that’s okay.

You can implement systems and processes upfront to ensure creating alignment quickly. However, as was aforementioned, creating those systems and processes early will also create a barrier to innovation. Why?

Because innovation thrives in an open environment where all the answers are not figured out. Though this can be stressful, know inside of an innovative environment, where safety, trust and vulnerability thrive, systems and processes will come.

Alignment comes when a vision is cast and strategy is created to tie the day-day operations to that vision. Each person on a team has a role to play in the execution of a vision.

When you get clear on everyone’s role and responsibilities, you are ready to create alignment between the vision and the day-to-day operations.

Here is how it looks linearly.

  1. Create a 10-year vision
  2. Create a 5-year vision
  3. Create a 3-year plan
  4. Create this year’s objectives
  5. Create 90-day priorities
  6. Create work of the month
  7. Create work of the week
  8. Create work of the day

Though that list looks long, it really isn’t that much, though it does take time. There is a very good resource for creating this kind of vision system, it is called Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. I highly recommend it to all leaders in all organizations.

Alright, now that you’ve established trust and created alignment, the next step is to develop balance. Sounds simple. Yet, developing balance takes practice. Let’s take a look.

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3. Develop Balance

As a leader, should you focus more on culture, or more on performance? Hm. Both are important. I like to think about culture and performance, like a see saw. Focus going back and forth. Sometimes, culture takes precedent, and sometimes, performance.

However, you must have both.

If you have a strong culture, and performance issues, you are not moving forward. If you have excellent performance metrics, and no culture, people will burn out and leave.

Developing a balanced approach to culture and performance takes practice, and an open mind. Meaning that when people bring you intelligence that a shift towards culture, or towards performance is needed, be open to shifting focus. Important.

In an open environment where trust and alignment have been created, the team will let you know. Really, they will. However, you still need to pay close attention to the team, and each individual on the team.

Like anything, developing balance takes time, and practice. You will know when you stray too far into one realm or the other. You can feel it when a team is not moving, or is moving too much. Watch, listen, and feel.

Collaboration is another important component to build in the journey towards creating an innovative culture. Some might say it is one of the most important.

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4. Build Collaboration

Why is collaboration so important? Well, to develop an innovative culture, building collaboration is a must. On teams where trust, alignment, and balance have been instituted, vulnerability will also typically be present.

And, being vulnerable with each other in an environment where collaboration is high is a natural breeding ground for innovation. Why?

Because where vulnerability meets collaboration is an open space ready for innovation to occur.

Actually, where vulnerability meets collaboration is where innovation is already happening. Really, it is.

Innovation needs spaces that are open, collaborative, and safe. Further, alignment and balance also help create innovative spaces. Though we’ve already discussed these two, there are two more reasons that showcase just how true the last sentence is.

  1. Because when your team is aligned, you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction. You are one.
  2. Because when there is balance, you also have balance with innovation. For instance, if all you do is innovate, then nothing will move forward. Similarly if all you do is execute, then innovation will founder. You need both. Both innovation and execution. A must.

Alright, now, let’s talk about accountability.

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5. Institute Accountability

You may be asking yourself right now, what in the world does accountability have to do with innovation? Well, a lot actually. Let’s go.

Fostering an innovative culture, which also executes is imperative to actually creating newness in the world. You have to develop both sides of the equation. Similar to developing balance. And, how do you instill accountability into your culture? It starts with you.

You must practice accountability. Holding yourself accountable, first. You must also be open to the team holding you accountable. Accountable for what, you ask? For what you say and do. Integrity.

Developing an innovative culture means that each individual, starting with the leader, holds themselves accountable for the actions they take, and sometimes, don’t take.

The same goes with the team. When each individual holds themselves to the culture of innovation that you are developing, the team is also simultaneously held accountable. And, when people don’t perform?

Well, you must understand why. If it is a skill issue, offer them the opportunity to develop, to grow. If they are interested, great. If not, well, that is their choice.

If it is will. Then they also have a choice.

Bottom line. Developing an innovative culture means that accountability is taken seriously. As seriously as having fun, growing together, learning from each other, and innovating new products and services. Same.

Alright, that’s the Big 5 of developing an innovative culture. Fun. And, guess what? You can develop an innovative culture anytime. Really. How? Well, like all things, one step, or action at a time.

What will you develop next?

#buildingbalance, #businessinnovation, #creatingalignment, #creatinginnovation, #creatingsafety, #developingbalance, #establishingtrust, #innovativeleadership, #institutingaccountability, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipinpractice, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #organizationaldevelopment, #organizationalinnovation, #teamdevelopment

10 Reasons Why Asking Questions is Important to Your Development

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To question, or not to question? Hm. How many times do you remember being in a class, with a group of friends, or in a work environment where you wanted to ask a question, yet didn’t? Yep, me too. Really, we all have those memories.

Many people are afraid to ask questions, to speak up generally. Why? Afraid of looking silly, asking the “wrong” questions, not being taken seriously, or being made fun of. Has happened to all of us at some point.

Yet, the ability to ask questions, to discern relevance out of a context that is unclear, to move toward more clarity, while acquiring more knowledge and adding to the knowledge-base within the context is really important. Why?

Well, let’s ask Socrates, shall we. Here we go.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates

Goal Cast

And this one.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates

Goal Cast

Powerful. Simply, there is so much unknown about life and the world, that to not ask, to not speak up in a way cheats ourselves and all of humanity out of possible progress.

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The topic of questioning is so important. Important to life, the world, the production and eventual dissemination of knowledge, and, yes, it is also very important to our development. Why? Well, I’ve got 10 reasons.

Ready? Very well, let’s go.

  1. Learning
    1. Seems simple, yes? The more questions we ask, the more we learn. Though this concept is simple, in practice, many people struggle to ask the questions they have deep inside them. They do. As was aforementioned, though an extrovert, I too once struggled with asking my questions. The issue? When we don’t ask, we actually carry that question around. Literally. We have it within us, unanswered, which can cause us pain, and frustration.
  2. Knowledge
    1. When we ask our questions, we gain knowledge, and we also contribute to knowledge acquisition. Yep. In every question there lives the possibility of more knowledge. We know so little about life and the world. Yet, with every question that we ask, we create the opportunity for us, and everyone else, to learn more.
  3. Clarity
    1. The more questions we ask, the more clarity we have. And, the more clarity everyone else has. As we learn, so does everyone else. And, as we all learn, we transform the nature of the context we’re in, to a context where questions are possible. A context where those that are fearful of asking questions, as you are, or once were, will be empowered to ask their questions. Powerful.
  4. Collaboration
    1. Asking questions is also the breeding ground for collaboration. When we ask questions, we are naturally contributing to a collaborative context, where learning from each other is embraced. We are actually fostering a collaborative context by asking our questions. Seriously, it is true.
  5. Strategy
    1. Asking questions is also super important to developing and executing on strategy. Without questions, you will only ever produce what was produced yesterday. Questions are the birthplace of strategy. And, with strategy, both concepts and execution, we get movement, and with movement, eventual traction in whatever it is we are doing.
  6. Innovation
    1. Like strategy, innovation depends upon asking questions. Creation and innovation are intertwined with curiosity, and those that are curious ask tons of questions. They have to, they are curious. With questions comes the possibility of innovation, and new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
  7. Vulnerability
    1. When we ask our questions, we are also being vulnerable. We are modeling an attribute that is a necessity for development. Developmental growth is dependent upon being vulnerable, and when we accept our own vulnerability, even enter into vulnerable spaces intentionally, we will ask our questions.
  8. Leadership
    1. Well, if questions are important to strategy and innovation, they are equally important to leadership. Leaders are interested in what others think, know, and feel. They have to be interested, it’s part of being a leader. And, to learn how people think, know, and feel, you must ask questions.
  9. Trust
    1. When we ask questions we also contribute to a context or environment of trust. When we are actively interested in someone else, and what they know, or how they feel and think, we are modeling trust. Especially when we get back questions from those around us, which by leading through asking questions, we will definitely get.
  10. Relationships
    1. Asking questions means that we get to learn more about those around us, which also means that we get to deepen our relationships with those people. It is inevitable. Learning about someone necessitates a relationship. And being in a relationship means knowing about that person, and to know, we must ask questions.
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Alright, there are 10 reasons why asking questions is important to your development. Let’s take a look at how they are interconnected. Ready? Here we go.

When we learn, we know more, and when we know more we have more clarity about our life, yes, and of the lives of those around us. Learning and knowing are part of development. And clarity is an output of learning and knowing more.

When we collaborate with others we get to know people better, and we also get to know ourselves better.

Knowing others better will always shine a light on the parts of ourselves that we want to develop. It is normal, and is also very healthy.

Within a collaborative context that embraces strategy, we also create the possibility of developing an innovative culture. And, inside of an innovative culture, we create more innovative possibilities, which also contributes to future strategies. All of which contributes positively to our development and growth.

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I’ve written in other posts that vulnerability contributes to and fosters innovation. Vulnerability is actually where the seeds of innovation will eventually grow. And, like innovation growing through vulnerability, we also develop and grow when we are vulnerable.

Relationships are created, in part, through trust. When we trust each other, we can be real, be vulnerable, learn more from each other, and grow together. When we are open to each other, we get so much more from each other.

Knowing that we, as Socrates might say, know so very little about life and the world. Knowing this fact is at the center of development and growth.

Leadership is dependent upon all of the aforementioned. And, I am not only writing about leaders in the traditional sense. I am also writing about every human on the planet. We all have the opportunity to lead. Lead from within, and from without.

When we lead by asking questions, we model our interest and support of contexts that are open to development and growth. We create more possibilities for ourselves, and for everyone around us.

Possibilities to learn, to know, to have more clarity, to build collaborations and strategy, which foster vulnerability, trust, and relationships; and, that is leading.

Ask your questions, and develop yourself and everyone else around you.

#clarity, #collaboration, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #growth, #growthanddevelopment, #growthmindset, #innovation, #knowing, #knowledge, #known, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #learning, #questionsandstrategy, #questionsarestrategy, #relationships, #socrates, #socratesandknowledge, #strategy, #trust, #unknown, #vulnerability

3 Reasons Why Creating Alignment With Your Why Is Important; And, 3 Simple Steps to Create Your Why

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Have you ever thought about why you do what you do? Maybe you already know, and maybe not. Either way, know that knowing why you do what you do is very important.

You can think about your why as the part of you that drives you to be the person you are today. It is something emotional, not intellectual. It lives deep within us, gives us our sense of purpose, and it also gives people that we know the knowing of who we are as human beings.

Here is a great Ted Talk by Simon Sinek about why your why is so important.

Simon Sinek

Though Simon’s Ted Talk is framed as a leadership principle, it’s applicable to all human beings. To anyone interested in connecting with other human beings on a deeper level.

As I was thinking more about my why this past week, it occured to me that creating alignment with our why, connecting it to those we know, teams we lead or work on, organizations we work within, and communities we belong to is also very important. Why?

There are three main reasons.

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1. Connection

When we connect our why to those closest to us, we create and have a deeper connection with them. We are able to better understand their why through the connection we see in our why.

And, the converse is also true. People can better understand our why through the connection they see in their why. And, this holds true even if they don’t know their why, or we don’t know ours. Really.

Further, we can also deepen our connections with people that know us very little by creating alignment with our why. Why? Because inside our why, they can see aspects of themselves. Really. Think about a time when you were moved emotionally. What happened?

Chances are you felt a deep connection with the person, company, movie, insert here whatever you were engaging with. When we are moved deeply, we can see aspects of ourselves in that which we are engaging with. Powerful.

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2. Relatability

Creating alignment with our why creates more relatability with those closest to us. And, when we connect our why through all of our relationships, the relatability connects us on a deeper level to everyone in our lives, including our teams, organizations, and community.

We instantly become more relatable as a human being. Again, this is so because people can see aspects of their own humanity in your why, or your story.

These deep connections keep us coming back for more. Really. Think about all the people in your life. Think about their why, even those that are unspoken, or unrealized. What do you see? Still thinking? That’s okay. Here is what I see.

I see that we are pulled closer to those we can relate to and understand. We are also pulled closer to those that move us, inspire us, and touch us in some way. Why’s are powerful.

Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

3. Purpose

Simply, when we create alignment with our why through all of our relationships, our connection is deeper, there is more relativity and relatability, and we also create alignment with our purpose, or vision.

When you share your why with others, and intentionally create alignment with your why, you create a very special context. A context that welcomes a shared vision of a future that you are creating together. Whether that is within a relationship, a team, an organization, or a community. It works the same way.

Working within a vision is a much different experience than working without one. Truly. Visions are powerful. Visions are created from why’s.

3 Simple Steps to Create Your Why

If you’ve already created your why, awesome. If not, create one. It’s not difficult. Really. How, you ask? Here are 3 simple steps you can follow to create your why.

  1. Write down why you do what you do.
    1. Now, I’m not talking about pay, benefits, or some other intellectual reason why you do what you do. I’m talking about your emotional-self. The part of you that is inspired to create change in the world. Now, with this frame, answer why do you do what you do, and write down all the ideas that come into your head and heart. All of them
  2. Pick your top 3 reasons from the list
    1. Pick your tops 3 reasons from the list that resonate most with you. You know, the ones that send tingles up your arms and through your body. The ones that make you smile really big, giggle even, as you think about creating that outcome, or result. Yep, that’s it. Those are the ones.
  3. Create your why statement
    1. Now take those three reasons and fashion a statement. Sometimes it will be a single sentence, sometimes it will be a paragraph. Depends. There are no rules here, except that it needs to move you, inspire you, touch you in some way. If it does, it will move, touch, and inspire others. Trust me.

There you go, nice work.

Alright, that’s 3 reasons why creating alignment with your why is important; and, 3 simple steps to creating your why. Pretty simply, yet very powerful.

Next time we will take a look at 5 simple steps you can take to create alignment with your why.

Until then, keep creating. Creating your why, aligning your why with other why’s, and keep inspiring others to do the same.

#businessalignment, #creatingalignmentinyourwhy, #creatingconnection, #creatinginspiration, #creatingpurpose, #creatingrelatability, #creatingvision, #creatingyourstory, #creatingyourwhy, #development, #growth, #humanconnection, #humandevelopment, #inspirational, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #organizationalalignment, #selfdevelopment, #simonsinek, #teamalignment, #vision

The Blog + Video Series #14: Servant Leadership: A Practical Leadership Style for Life and Work

Of all the leadership styles and choices, why choose Servant Leadership? Well, there are many reasons, some of which we will explore in this post, and some in future posts. Let’s get this conversation started by taking a look at Servant Leadership as a principle. In this post, we will also explore Servant Leadership as a practical tool, and as a way of being, or living our life.

The Principles of Servant Leadership

There are many principles of Servant Leadership. Service is the foundation of all the rest, and is the fundamental basis for this leadership style. In order to serve others, one must serve themselves first. This is where it all starts.

Service to the Self

In order to be an effective leader, one must understand their own growth opportunities, and actively work on them. Service to others, starts with this understanding. More, it means being open to critique and feedback from others on areas that you have opportunities to develop.

As a leader, one of your main objectives is to develop those that work for you, and with you. Likewise, you must start by developing yourself in all areas, those that you know about, and those you don’t. The latter are called blind spots, and the team you work with, once a safe and trusting environment is created, will point them out to you.

If you defend yourself and make justifications for these blind spots, you will not grow. And, if you are closed to growth opportunities, your team will also be closed. If your team is closed to growth, you will not gain traction in your business model, or you will only gain traction to a point. You will not go further into that unknown area of growth that most teams never reach.

Accepting our blind spots, and actively creating opportunities to develop skills in those areas will create more trust with your team. Additionally, you will show them that you have the ability to be vulnerable and authentic, which are two more very important principles of being a Servant Leader.

Service to the Team

Many leadership styles depend on the typical organizational hierarchy, where the leaders sit at the top of the pyramid, and look down on the rest of the staff. Effectively, pushing out and down directions, without much dialogue from the team about the effectiveness of such directives.

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Distribution Property Solutions, Inc.

Servant Leadership turns that pyramid upside down, which means that front line staff are, in effect at the top of the hierarchy and in a position to effect change within the organization. It means that leaders do provide direction to staff, yet do so in a way that encourages, even demands, reciprocal dialogue and conversation.

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Distribution Property Solutions, Inc.

Implementing an approach that encourages reciprocal dialogue and conversation requires a willingness from leaders to realize that they do not, could not, have all the answers. It also requires an understanding that the leaders primary job is serving and developing the team.

As with service to the self, leaders must remain open to serving their teams in the same way, implementing the same types of techniques, which we will explore more in future posts.

The Servant Leadership model also requires leaders to develop the ability to pull people to them, and push people into action when necessary. Though, of the two, the former is the more important aspect of the Servant Leadership model, leaders must also have the fortitude to hold themselves, and the people they work with accountable to rigorous standards and expectations.

Servant Leadership as a Way of Being

Servant Leadership is a leadership style that can be used in all aspects of your life, from relationships with friends and family, to service activities within the community. As a way of being, Servant Leadership requires an understanding that relationships are everything.

Relationships start with the one you have with yourself. Once that relationships is healthy and strong, you are ready to develop high-quality relationships with those around you, and throughout the community. It is impossible to develop healthy, high-quality, relationships with others until you are clear on the relationships you have with yourself.

Servant leadership principles can be utilized in all contexts, because these principles, some of which we have explored here, are simple and pragmatic. These principles are about practice, and the necessity of respecting, honoring, and celebrating yourself and all of those around you.

Leading is something that people do in all walks and aspect of life. And, Servant Leadership is a leadership style, that I believe, is uniquely adaptable to all of these contexts. It is also unique in that it puts the development of the self first, with an understanding that developing yourself is a necessary ingredient to the eventual development of others, whether those others be those in your personal or professional contexts.

References

Greenleaf, Robert K. (2020). The Robert K Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. What is Servant Leadership. URL.

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Photo by Riccardo Annandale

#businessshange, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #organizationalchange, #organizationaldevelopment, #servantleadership, #servicetotheself, #servicetotheteam, #teamdevelopment

An Insight: Creating Alignment in Your Why

September 8, 2020

The ability to share why you do what you do, is much more important than sharing what you do, or how you do it. Simon Sinek talks about this at length in his famous Ted Talk. In this video, we explore an insight I had last week, about the importance of aligning your why with your team, business, organization, and community. They are all related.

#creatingalignmentinyourwhy, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #relationships, #simonsinec, #systemstheory, #youroriginstroy, #youtwhy

The Blog + Video Series #13: Moving From Concept to Execution: Implementing Developmental Growth Opportunities at Work

This week I’ve been reflecting upon how we learn. Though there are learning styles, which are important to know, I’ve been reflecting more upon the process of learning. How we take in new information, process it, reflect upon it, adapt it, and formalize it into the other processes and systems we currently use.

Why might this be important to consider, understand, and become familiar with?

Good question. It is important to consider and understand, because this understanding can help leaders create bridges for people. The familiarity of which can create a bridge for your team and move you from concept into execution. Let’s take a look how.

Learning

It’s important for everyone to have access to developmental opportunities. To learn and to grow. Important. Knowing this, how do you suppose you create these opportunities? While larger organizations typically have a model for training staff, it does not always follow that everyone in the organization has the same access to developmental opportunities. Hm.

What to do, then, when your business or organization does not offer training, or those training programs are limited in some way, or designated for only mid-level and executive employees?

Create them from within

As a leader, you can create opportunities for your team to develop and grow. How? Find out what each person’s strengths and weaknesses are, always starting with yourself first, and then find ways to engage them with new concepts and tools to stretch them, and help them grow.

For instance, we created an opportunity in our second year as a team to develop strategic thinking skills, which included several training days. The culmination of which was deploying a system for organizing our daily work and balancing strategy. The need was there, and we moved it forward, and so can you.

Here are some considerations on how to get started.
  • Define the need – here are some questions to assist your thinking.
    • Where is the gap?
    • What training is needed to fill the gap?
    • Who will facilitate the training?
    • When will you implement the training?
    • How will you evaluate the training’s effectiveness?
    • What is the return on investment of the training?
  • Create a training plan with internal or external training professionals – here are some questions to consider.
    • What is the training goal?
    • How will you know when you’ve met your goal?
    • What does post-training traction look like?
    • What metrics will you use to measure traction?
  • Implement – communicate about the training, create buy-in with staff, and implement.
  • Evaluate – make sure you have traction.
  • Repeat – we created a system of training once a quarter. Worked well.
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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Adjustment

With any learning process, there is a period of time that people need to adjust to their new workflow reality. How can you assist staff in making these necessary adjustments?

Here are a few ideas.

  • Create a post-training system to ensure that you have traction – the system should at the very least include:
    • Post-training follow up – what did you and the team learn, and how will you move the new concepts and tools forward.
    • Periodic staff check-in’s – I’ve always used one-with-ones to ensure that staff have the support they need, and are adjusting well to their new workflow reality.
    • Measure your movement – create a way to measure your post-training progress. This might be quantitative metrics, such as increases in revenue, or it may be qualitative, such as increased workflow effectiveness.
  • Continue to follow-up – to really gain traction, the new concepts and tools must be incorporated into everyone’s daily work, including yours. There really is no other way. If this does not happen, the new concepts and tools you are implementing will lack traction.
  • Create consistency – once you have movement, start talking with the leadership team about the next training. Be consistent, and offer training opportunities at a regular drumbeat, so staff can count on, and expect them.
  • Monitor progress – continue to check in with staff on their progress. Monitor traction. You may find that after three months, the team needs a refresher on a topic you’ve already covered. That’s okay. What really matters is that you’ve created access for your team to develop and grow; and that you will remain committed to doing so, refreshers and all.
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Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Integrate

Once the team has adjusted to their new reality, which includes new concepts and tools, you will need to devise individual development plans. These plans will ensure that each staff integrates the new concepts and tools into their current workflow in a way that suits their learning style, which will increase retention, mastery, and traction.

Where to start?

As was aforementioned, I’ve used one-with-one’s often in my professional career. I find that they work well to create plans tailored to the individual. These plans can also be used to track progress and as a coaching tool.

The most important thing about integration, is that all staff actively integrate the new concepts and tools into their daily workflow. You are building healthy habits in this regard. Really. People like habits, and once you have created that habituation within yourself, a must, you can deploy that to the team.

Here are a few examples.
  • Whiteboards – some people are very visual, and literally need to see the work drawn or sketched out. I’m like that. If you have staff that are visual, do whiteboard work with them, so they can see the new concepts and tools inside of their current workflow. Important.
  • Post-its – funny. I always say it matters less how you organize yourself, than it does that you develop a system that works for you. And, if post-its work for you, like they do me, use them. Again, what matters is that the staff member can feel a level of comfort with the new concepts and tools, inside of a system they’ve already developed.
  • Calendars – a good way to organize by setting reminders for new tasks. For instance, after we completed a strategic thinking training day last year, I had every staff member add one hour per week of strategic thinking to their calendars.
  • Project Management Systems – we’ve been using a project management system for over a year now. Works for some on the team, and not as much for others. Yet, having a systematized way to move larger projects forward is important. I’ve found this addition helpful, and a contributor to the team’s overall traction.
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Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Reflect

We all need time to process new information, time to reflect. I advocate for giving your staff the same consideration you give yourself, especially when incorporating new concepts and tools into their daily work. You need it as a leader, and so do they. We all do.

How do you incorporate reflection time into the day?

If you use reflection often as a daily strategy this will be simpler. If you do not, there may be a stretch here for you, however, I believe it is a worthwhile endeavor. We are all inundated with constant stimuli, and the need to take a break from that stimuli to really get clear on our work is necessary and needed.

Here are a few strategies you can try.
  • Build that time in for yourself first – the only way to create traction with anything, is to create it for yourself first. Once you have a system down, you can coach and guide people into it. If you are not familiar with reflection time, add 30-minute reflection times into your daily calendar. Try it a couple times a week, with a goal to have it worked into your calendar daily.
  • Coach the team on taking the same time – once you’ve practiced taking reflection time for yourself, you can advise the team on doing the same thing. Have them build it in similarly. A day or two a week to start, with the goal of having daily reflection time.
  • Create reflection time after meetings and one-with-one’s – another strategy that we employ is taking time to reflect upon decisions. As you practice this strategy, you will come to see, as we have, that many decisions do not need to be made quickly. You have time. Take it, and use it wisely to reflect and engage with yourself and your team on the best course of action.
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Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Formalize

Once you have strategies in place to incorporate new learning, integration, adjustment, and reflection time into everyone’s workflow, you can start to make plans to formalize these new processes and systems. Simply meaning that to build these healthy work habits, and to have them stick, they must be practiced daily; and they need to be documented.

As we’ve discussed, people all learn differently, so create a few different ways to engage with the team, which will ensure you maintain traction on the aforementioned learning strategies. The main way we move projects of this size forward is to input them into our project management software, which has worked pretty well.

Again, what you use to formalize and document a new system or process, of which learning and development are two, matters less than you taking the time to create a learning and development plan for yourself, each team member, and the overall team.

I think you will find that the payoff in terms of work efficiency, overall team moral, and team cohesion will increase as you continue to create opportunities for people to learn new things, and to develop themselves at work. And, once that is accomplished, you and your team will be ready to move from concept to execution, and into the traction zone.

Be well, and lead well.

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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