The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?

Leadership As A Part of Everyday Life

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I am always thinking about, learning about, and practicing leadership. Really. Always. It is such an important concept and practice. Yes, professionally, and even more importantly, for me, in every aspect of my life.

Why?

Well, that’s what we’ll look at in this new series. There are so many questions to look at and discuss when it comes to leadership. Seriously. So many. Here are just a couple.

  • Why is leadership such an important concept?
  • Why is it so important to practice?
  • Why is it important to understand?
  • What are the types of leadership?
  • Why are there so many types?
  • What’s the right type for me?
  • How do I become a leader?

And? Oh, there are so many more.

Alright, in this first article, we are going to unpack leadership as a concept and practice. Ready? Great. Let’s get started by defining leadership. Yep. here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

See synonyms for leadership

Translate leadership into Spanish

NOUN

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

The state or position of being a leader.

The leaders of an organization, country, etc.

Lexico

Okay. Here we see that leadership is identified with leading a group of people or organization or being in a leadership position.

Yet, what does that really mean?

Before we get to that question, let’s try one more definition. The definitions are all a little different. Here we go.

leadership

noun US  /ˈliː.dɚ.ʃɪp/ UK  /ˈliː.də.ʃɪp/

the set of characteristics that make a good leader

the position or fact of being the leader

Cambridge Dictionary

Alright, we now have an additional concept in this new definition. Leadership in this definition is also associated with a particular set of characteristics. Yet, which ones? Hm. Confusing.

And, now?

Well, let’s assuage some of our confusion by unpacking these definitions, shall we? Good. Here we go.

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Leadership as Leading People

Right, so leading people. Yes, yes, that is a part of leadership. Or, as I usually like to write, one piece of a whole. The whole you ask? Good question.

The whole of leadership as a principle and practice is a system. And, like all systems, it starts with each of us. The way we think and feel about leadership; our hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives. Yep, all of them.

In fact, all leadership starts with leading oneself. What does that mean?

It means that the way we treat ourselves, the principles and values we believe in, and the way we practice those principles and values are exactly how we lead.

Some people think that you can lead your life at home one way, and then lead your life at work in another way. Not so. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.

How you lead at home is the same as the way you lead at work. They are one.

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Some of you right now might be thinking, as I once did, that’s not true; I have a set of values at home and a different set of values at work.

However, I am inviting you to consider that, in fact, believing that we hold different values at home than we hold at work is mere confusion. And?

That confusion will seep out into all that we do.

We can call that discord. And, that discord will confuse you, yes, and everyone else around you. Really. And, with confusion comes tension, disagreement, and disengagement.

The soultion?

Well, getting clear on your principles and values is a start. As is understanding why you treat yourself as you do; meaning, creating an awareness of yourself for yourself. Important. Then?

Let go of the principles and values that no longer serve you, and create new ones. We are creative beings first, and leaders second. All of us. Create symmetry between the self you are at home and the self you are at work.

You are one person after all. Create the leader you know yourself to be. One step at a time. Then?

Creating leadership symmetry

  1. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  2. What do you value and why?
  3. Why are you the person you are today?
  4. Why do you do what you do?

And, then?

Create symmetry between your personal life and your professional life. As was aforementioned, they are one and the same anyway. Time to connect the two. There is tremendous power in this conceptual and practical example. And, then?

Well, with symmetry and practice, you will lead people. And, you will lead them from a space that is centered and clear on what you intend to create.

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Leadership as a Position

Leadership is not a position. Director, supervisor, and manager are a position, or even better yet, are a title.

Leadership is a philosophy and a practical way you live your life. Every aspect of your life in fact. If you think about leadership as a position, then?

You will create separateness between leadership and other aspects of your life. And, as we’ve just discussed, that leads to confusion and disengagement. You from yourself, and your team from you.

It is inevitable. People know when we are genuine and authentic. They can feel it, they can see it, and they can hear it. Simple.

One of the reasons people struggle in leadership is they are not clear on who they are as a human being. Listen, it’s not a demerit. I once had this same issue, and?

It’s hard. Very hard.

When you are not clear on who you are, how can you be clear on who your team is? You cannot. It’s just not possible. What is possible?

Get clear on you

  • Why are you a leader?
  • What do you value in leadership?
  • What types of leadership do you associate yourself with?
  • What kinds of impact do you want to make in this world?
  • What change do you want to create?

I could go on. Well, and we will, in future posts. For now, know that there are two things at this stage that are critical.

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

And, we will cover both of these topics in the next two articles. Now, let’s take a look at leadership as characteristics.

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Leadership as Characteristics

There are many places to look for and find lists, articles, even whole books on leadership characteristics. And?

Well, it is important to understand these characteristics, yet it is just as important to understand that these characteristics are a product of what leaders believe and think, and how they act.

Meaning, that understanding characteristics are only as good as actually developing a relationship with yourself, and understanding how that relationship will translate into your personal leadership style.

Here are a few leadership characteristics I think are pretty important.

  • Authenticity
  • Inspiration
  • Vulnerability
  • Influence
  • Clarity
  • Vision
  • Grit
  • Determination
  • Perseverance
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Self-awareness
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Passion

Know there are many more. These are the ones I’m most present to now, and the ones that I’m always present to actually.

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Leadership as Life

I prefer to think about and practice leadership as another part of my life. A very important part of my life. Really.

If we think about leadership in regard to taking care of and leading ourselves through life, and then expand that to include the other people in our lives, it’s very important.

Let’s close this first installment with a few quotes, shall we? Good. Here we go.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Benchmark

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Benchmark

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.” – Lao Tzu

Benchmark

There we go.

Inspiration is an important part of leadership. And? Well, the leader must first find their inspiration, as we’ve discussed, and, then? It will go out to everyone else. Fun.

Ah, yes, collaboration is such an important leadership characteristic. Difficult, and yet so much fun and so worth the process.

I am fond of saying to the team I work on something like, you know we chose to institute the collaborative model we use today. It’s not the easiest way to do things, yet we believe it is the best way.

Lao Tzu makes a lovely point here about influence. When a team is rallied around a common purpose or goal, it is infectious, and it is as if the leader simply disappears. In fact, each person on the team, in their own way, becomes a leader. Beautiful.

Alright, we’ve made it to the conclusion of the first entry into this new series on leadership. And, I am excited about continuing it with you.

In the next installment, we will take a look at leadership from the perspective of the self. It is, as we’ve discussed, where everything starts.

And, it is exactly where we will start again next time.

#clarity, #collaboration, #helenkeller, #influence, #inspiration, #johnadams, #laotzu, #leadership, #leadershipasasystem, #leadershipaslife, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdefined, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipquestions, #leadershipsymmetry, #leadershipvalues, #leading-people, #leadingorganizations, #selfdevelopment, #strategy, #vision

3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know

A Journey From the Unknown to the Known

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Big 5: Developing An Innovative Culture

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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

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

#businessdevelopment, #developingteams, #developmentandgroth, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #learning, #learningandengagement, #organizationaldevelopment, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #teamengagement, #teammoral, #teamtraining

4 Keys to Creating Persistence in the Face of Resistance Through Acceptance for Yourself, and Your Team, Business, or Organization

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Photo by Lucas Myers on Unsplash

What types of resistance do you face at work, in life? And, how do they affect your daily work, and the people that work around you? In the article, 7 Keys to Balancing Strategic Thinking with the Day-to-Day Operations of Your Team, Business, or Organization, persistence is the first key that I talk about. Right now I do believe it is the most important. Why?

Because, as leaders, there are two ways we are confronted with resistance on a regular basis; and, being persistent is the key to continuing to move our teams, businesses, and organizations forward.

Here are those two ways.

  1. Resistance to the ever-changing realities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Resistance to the current COVID-19 pandemic reality as compared to our previous realities.
Both of these instances of resistance can cause pain and suffering, for ourselves, our teams, businesses, organizations, and all of those that we serve.

What are some strategies that we can use to notice when we are resisting our current reality, regardless of whether it is due to resisting the amount of daily change we are confronted with, or resisting our new reality in comparison to our previous realities?

Photo by Henri Picot on Unsplash

Here are 4 tips you can use to persist in the face of resistance

1. Notice when you are resisting the current reality

The first step to shifting your attention from resistance to persistence is to know when you are resisting. Sounds simple, yes? It is and isn’t. Noticing when you are resisting the current reality may pose more challenges today, as we are all living and working through so much change.

Combine that amount of change with other environmental stimuli and we have a situation where paying attention to how we are feeling is more challenging.

These are not normal times. Better language. Normal is only relative to what we once knew, and whatever “new normal” we think will show up, it will not be what was. We need to face this reality, get used to it, and learn how to do our work inside of it.

Doing so means learning to notice when we are actively resisting the current reality. How? Practice. Pay attention to how you feel. For me, frustration or agitation are relatively good indicators that I may be resisting the current reality. When I feel frustrated or agitated, I ask myself, why?

What’s the reason for the frustration and agitation?

When the reason is known, and the reason is that you are actively resisting the current reality, you can begin to consider shifting your focus from resistance to persistence through acceptance.

Photo by Eean Chen on Unsplash

2. Shifting your focus from resistance to persistence through acceptance

Acceptance of the current reality is key to shifting from resistance to persistence. It is a must. When we do not accept the current reality, we are also actively resisting the current reality.

Either by living in denial, disagreement, disapproval, opposition, or complete refusal of the current reality. And, what happens when we are living and working this way?

We cannot create new ways to move ourselves, and our teams, businesses, and organizations forward. Maybe better language is that we are limited in our capacity to move ourselves, and our teams, businesses, and organizations forward. Why?

Because when we resist the current reality, we are limited by that focus. And, resistance is a very limited frame of reference. Whereas, persistence is about continuing to move forward in the face of any and all adversity. A much wider frame of reference.

Movement and this wider frame of reference are key. And, when the movement has stalled, as leaders, we can then create that movement. Creation and persistence go very well together. Creation and resistance? Not so much.

When you’ve moved from noticing your resistance to actively shifting your attention to persistence through acceptance, you can create new possibilities for yourself, and your team, business, and organization.

Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

3. Listen tothose around you

Another way we can become more aware of our own resistance is to listen to those around us. When people point to our resistance, it is very helpful. It may not always feel helpful, however, as leaders being open, available, and flexible is important.

When we are open, available, and flexible, we have the ability to take constructive feedback and do something with it. And, doing something with that feedback is important for us, and the teams, businesses, and organizations we lead.

Here is a quick example.

Today I was in conversation with a staff member that was questioning the need for a recurring meeting, as we had recently discussed the need to pause this work for now. Freeing up that staff member to work on the current business needs that are most pressing.

Whereas I was not openly resistant to the idea, upon reflection I noticed that I might have inadvertently been resisting canceling those meetings for various reasons.

However, none of those reasons were more important than the facts. We don’t need that meeting right now. And, that is what the staff member was pointing to. Extremely helpful.

As is the knowledge that sometimes our own resistance of a situation or event may be very subtle; and, not something that we are doing purposefully. An important distinction to be clear on.

You don’t get a demerit for being resistant. You are a human being. We are all resistant at times. Important to remember, as being upset or frustrated with your own resistance will only bring more resistance and frustration. Not helpful.

Listen to the people you have surrounded yourself with.

They are there for a reason. And, that reason may just be to point out your resistance, which is helpful. Knowing this allows you to move from resistance to acceptance and into persistence.

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

4. Invite your team, business, or organization to do the same

If you are at times resistance, then so are those that you work with, and serve. Important to understand. As you work on your own resistance, you can assist others in working on their resistance. Sometimes it is simply pointing it out. Other times, it may require a deeper conversation.

Either way, that you know about your own resistance and know how to shift to acceptance, means that you can also coach others on moving into acceptance. It is so important to create more flexibility and adaptability today.

The change we’ve all been through and the change that has yet to come are going to require more flexibility and more adaptability. In turn, they will also require acceptance of what is. Acceptance of the current state of reality today. And, the current state of reality tomorrow. However, they show up.

When we can fully accept what is before us, we can begin to create new pathways for ourselves and our teams, businesses, and organizations. And, when we can create these new pathways, whether they are new business models, new engagement systems, or new staffing models, we can serve our clients, customers, and community in more effective ways. Why?

Because we are not resisting the current reality, pretending that normal will come back. Normal is gone. Let it go, and move from resistance to acceptance and into persistence.

Be well and lead well.

#acceptance, #acceptanceslkills, #businessdevelopment, #businessplanning, #businessstrategy, #covid-19anddevelopment, #covid-19andresilience, #covid-19businessdevelopment, #covid-19leadership, #covid-19organizationaldevelopment, #covid-19teamdevelopment, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipvalues, #listeningskills, #listentothosearoundyou, #organizationaldevelopment, #persistencewithoutresistance, #teamdevelopment, #teamengagement, #teammoral, #teammorale

Leadership in Practice Series Part 2: Creating 90-Day Priorities Inside of a 10-Year Vision

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Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

Once your vision is created, then what? Regardless of whether it is a 10-year, 5-year, or 3-year vision, you will need to put plans in place that will connect the daily work to that vision. That is how your 10-year vision will become a reality.

What, then, are the first steps to ensure that your weekly, monthly, and quarterly work connects to the long-term vision?

In this article we will walk through the process we went through to connect the 10-year vision to our 90-day priorities. First, another question.

Where does a leader start when they want to ensure that everyone’s daily work on the team, or in the business or organization they belong to is contributing to the long-term goals?

Let’s take a look.

Start with the 10-year Vision and ask yourself a couple of questions.

  • What are the goals of the 10-year vision?
  • What are the metrics of the 5-year plan?
  • What will the current year look like?

Let’s look at each question, one at a time.

What are the goals of the 10-year vision?

Once the vision is created, it’s time to create the goals that will drive all of the work. However, before you move on to creating those goals, which will drive the objectives and priorities, ask yourself what your vision will look like in reality.

What will the revenue and service look like, what will the staffing model look like, will you add positions between now and then?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, or ones that are more important to your particular vision, start to build out what that vision will look like in reality. Here is an example, vision first, then what it will look like in reality.

Here is the vision

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Here is what it will look like

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Note that the word profit in this instance is referring to department reinvestment funds.

Once you’ve created the 10-year vision, and also know what it will look like, you are ready to work backward. When I went through this exercise last year, I started this part of the planning session with year 5. I looked at the previously designated metrics and asked myself what they would look like in reality. For instance, what would revenue look like, and how many people would we serve.

What are the metrics of the 5-year plan?

Here is what that looked like

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It is a wonderful exercise to start with the larger 10-year vision and to work backward to the 5-year plan, creating more clarity as you go. It is how you begin to connect the 10-year vision with the work you need to do today.

Once you’ve worked backward to year 5, you are ready to work backward once again to year 3, or whatever the current year is for your team, business, or organization. It is important to continue to get clearer on what the future reality will look like.

What will the current year look like?

Year 3 Department Objectives

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As you continue to work backward from the 10-year vision to year 5, to the current year you are planning for, in this example, year 3, the objectives that will lead the team to that 10-year vision do become more clear. Important.

And, as these objectives become more clear, so will the priorities that will drive each person’s work. For instance, in our year 3, we had 1-year objectives, which we executed on in 90-day chunks. Meaning that we focused on moving forward our yearly objectives with 90-day priorities that would shift as needed, yet the objectives would remain the same.

Year 3 Staff Objectives

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Once you get to 90-day priorities, it is time to create a coaching model that will mirror all of the aforementioned. Fully discussing this coaching model is for another article, yet I would like to share with you the simple template we created, so you can see how a 10-year vision can connect to a staff member’s daily work.

Coaching Model Template

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Though you can only see a portion of the form, you can see the overall process, where the yearly objectives (on the left) are connected to the department objectives (on the left in bold), while the specific priorities and actions to move that work forward are on the right. Fun.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the following article, One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision, in which we discussed the possibility of creating a disruption vision or BHAG inside of a 10-year vision. And now, the planning process we’ve walked through in this article is being recreated. The difference?

Because there is so much change right now, we have a 1-year BHAG, which lives inside of the 10-year vision, and 30-day priorities, instead of 90. I am in the process right now of re-instituting one-with-ones so that we can discuss, plan, and create our next actions one month at a time. Allowing us the pivotability, and flexibility needed.

Very well. There you have an example, with tools, on how you can connect your team, business, or organizations’ 10-year vision to the work that needs to be done daily to ensure that the 10-year vision will live in reality.

Be well, and lead well.

You can reach Jeff Flesch at fleschj@linnbenton.edu

#businesscoaching, #businessmetrics, #creatinga10-yearvision, #creatingstrategy, #creatingvision, #develpingmetrics, #goalsetting, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipinpractice, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #team, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #teamengagement, #teammoral

The Transformation Video Series #2: Leadership, Transformation, and Becoming An Agent of Change

The Transformation Video Series #2

#changeagency, #changeagent, #covid-19leadership, #createthefuturefromthefuture, #creatingchange, #leadershipandtransformation, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmin, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #lettinggoofthepast, #persistencewithoutresistance, #questioningourbeliefs, #recreatingourbeliefs, #transformationalleadership

Moving From Concept to Execution: Implementing Developmental Growth Opportunities at Work

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

#businesstraining, #creative-process, #creativity, #developinghighqualityrelationships, #developingourselves, #developingprocessesandsystems, #developingresilience, #developingteams, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #experientiallearning, #individual-learning, #individualtraning, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #learning, #learning-and-engagement, #professionaldevelopment, #team, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #teamtraining, #training