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.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

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

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

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

The Blog + Video Series #12 – Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

Have you ever thought about the difference between developmental growth and transformation? Or, have or do you consider them the same? Hm.

There is an important distinction between developmental growth and transformation, which is important to both personal and professional development. Let’s take a look.

First, let’s define the terms.

development

Translate development into Spanish

NOUN

  • The process of developing or being developed.‘she traces the development of the novel’
    1. A specified state of growth or advancement.‘the wings attain their full development several hours after birth

transformation

Translate transformation into Spanish

NOUN

  • Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
    1. A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.‘Both the molting process and the metamorphic transformation from larva to pupa are coordinated and regulated by hormones.’

Ah, do you see the dinsticiton? Either way, let’s work it through.

Development

When you are interested in development, meaning available to it, you occupy a space that welcome’s learning. You stand outside of what you believe to be true about the world, and how you occupy it, and welcome new knowledge, new types of understanding, and new ways of being. Simple. Or is it?

Well, because we have an ego, or, wait, do we? Well, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume we do. Because we have an ego, we don’t like being wrong.

We are constantly seeking validation of what we know. Why?

Because it fits into our worldview. It is what we know. When information comes in, we assemble it into the the narrative of our worldview and who we believe we are. We confirm our ego.

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Photo by Iulia Mihailov on Unsplash

If the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, we really only have two choices.

Deny the existence of this new information, or become open to it.

Denying this new information is called denial. We are actively denying that another way to look at a situation or event is possible. Egocentric.

However, when we are open to the possibility that there are other ways to think about a situation or event, we have now entered into the developmental arena.

Meaning, that we can now take this new information in, make sense of it, and do something with it.

Even if the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, if we are open, we can incorporate it into our worldview rather easily. It is all about being open to new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The simplest example is to consider development at school and work. When we are confronted with new information, we have a choice. Assimilate and incorporate that new information into our existing worldview, creating new knowledge, or reject it.

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Photo by Saketh Garuda on Unsplash

Example.

I am always in conversation with the team about our goals, objectives, and priorities. Recently, I was asked about hiring someone to run Zoom technology for the upcoming professional development trainings.

I, however, was unsure about the need. Didn’t know. I needed to think about it.

Well, the next week, I ran a Zoom meeting with the team. The meeting was 90-minutes and was about creating our next 30-day priorities. Part of the meeting was creating breakout rooms, which you can do in Zoom. The meeting was a complete disaster. Really, it was. What did I learn?

That you absolutely need someone to run technology while the person running the meeting does just that, runs the meeting. I learned through doing the meeting that hiring someone for a Zoom tech position was absolutely necessary. We are hiring someone right now.

I moved from questioning the need, reflecting upon it, to learning that we definitely needed the new position. I developed.

Alright, that’s development. Opportunities for development are available every day. If you don’t see them, it might be that you are avoiding them or in denial about them. It’s not a demerit. I didn’t develop for a long time. Really. I wasn’t interested. Not a judgement. Just a fact. Let’s now look at transformation.

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Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Transformation

Now, transformation implies a complete change to the object, thing, or person. Yep, that’s right. How then does transformation differ from development?

While development requires an active openness, as we’ve discussed, transformation requires openness and a complete and total letting go of what was, in favor of what will be. It requires a shift from a focus on the external to the internal.

Transformation is about questioning all you know. Every ounce of what you know, or beleive you know, must be questioned.

Further, you must be willing to let go of how you previously viewed the world. Open to a continual process of creating new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The distinction is that with transformation you actively seek out opportunities to question the ways you think, act, and occur. Internally focused.

You are continuously interested in disrupting your old habits and ways of thinking while creating new habits and ways of thinking.

Let me give you an example to help with the distinction.

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Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

Let us say you want to develop leadership skills. You can develop leadership skills in lots of ways. You can take classes, read books, even put leadership principles into practice in your life. That is development.

You incorporate new information into the preexisting way you already think about leadership. Simple. How then to create transformation? Mm. Different.

You must be willing to let go of all of your preconceived ideas about what leaders are supposed to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to be. All of them. Then what?

You leave your ego at the door.

And, everything you think you know about leadership. Start over. Really. Let it all go. And, create from there.

Transformation can only occur when we let go. Know also that the letting go will need to happen again, and again, and again. Over and over. Why? Because you are disrupting what you held to be true, and creating something new. Key. You are not adding, you are creating.

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Photo by Arnaud Weyts on Unsplash

Example

Let’s see. Okay. Here we go.

When the pandemic began here locally, we were approaching the last week of the term at the community college where I work. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in community and continuing education. It is all experiential. All of it. Which means that it is in-person. All of it is, or was.

Within one month of the pandemic beginning here, we let go of all the concepts we held to be true about our business model. All of them. What happened?

We created an entirely new business model. A model that is transformational, as all aspects of it are completely different than the previous model. All of them.

We created all new processes and systems for how we do business. New ways we market and engage with the local community, new ways that instructors teach their classes, even the content that is delivered, while similar, is still completely new. Why?

Because a completely new context has been created. And it was created intentionally by believing something else was possible. Which then replaced our current belief system of how we all viewed our work.

All of us. now our actions follow that new belief system. That is transformation.

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

When you intentionally create new ways to be, new ways to think, new ways to believe, new ways to be a human, you are creating contexts that are transformational. Never seen or experienced before. Transformation.

How are development and transformation similar?

One key way. When you develop, whether you want to or not, you give out your development to others. If those around you are open, they will learn from you and also develop. And, it is the exact same for you. If those around you are developing, and you are open you will also develop.

It is the same with transformation. If you are creating transformational contexts that change the nature of what’s possible, those around you, if they are open, will also transform. If they are open. If not, then they won’t. Same for development.

Can development lead to transformation?

Oh, yes, absolutely. In some ways, they sort of go together, which is why I wanted to write about the distinction. Whereas they are different, they both are about being open to and participating in creating change.

Here is a distinction on the difference between change and transformation.

“Change is about using external influences to modify actions to achieve desired results. Transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results.”

cioinsight.com

See the difference? One is externally driven, and one is internally driven. Very similar to the distinction between development and transformation. Important.

How do you begin to develop or transform?

Really it’s pretty simple, yet not easy. A paradox, yep. My suggestion?

  • Be open to everything around you. Being open is probably the key to both development and transformation. Both become possible when we are open to new information and new experiences.

When we are open, the world opens up. It really does. There is so much to learn and to experience. Being open creates an immediate possibility. The possibility that you will learn to be more. More of either how you already occur, or more by occurring in a completely new way in a completely new context.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

#changemanagement, #creatingchange, #creatingtransformation, #developmentalgrowth, #distinctionbetweentransformationanddevelopment, #handlingchange, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershiptransformation, #leadershipvalues, #personaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #transformationalleadership

7 Keys to Balancing Strategic Thinking with the Day-to-Day Operations of Your Team, Business, or Organization

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

One of the strategies I wrote about in the post, Creating Movement in Your Team, Business, or Organization: 3 Steps in 3 Minutes was creating balance in your workflow in order to balance strategic thinking with the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization.

It occurred to me that I’ve used multiple strategies the past three years to accomplish this balance, some have worked well, some not as much. What’s most important, however, is not that some didn’t work, rather, it is important that some did.

Trying new strategies is part of leadership development. Actually, it is development itself. Try something new. If it works, keep it, if not get rid of it.

Well, then, let’s take a look at 7 keys you can use to balance strategy with day-to-day operations. And, if you choose to incorporate one, great. If you already do these things, wonderful. And, if they are new to you, give one or two a try and see what happens.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

7 Keys to Balancing Strategy with Day-to-Day Operations

  1. Persistence – being persistent is an important leadership trait; as is knowing that not everything that you implement will work. It just won’t. There is nothing wrong with that, and you do not get a demerit if something doesn’t work. All that means is that you need to be persistent in your actions to find that process, or system that will work. Stick to it, and you will find it.
  2. Prioritization – we are all inundated with multiple competing priorities. It is very important, however, to get clear on how those competing priorities should be prioritized. Very important. Otherwise, all of your priorities will have the same level of importance, and chances are many of them will not move forward.
  3. Patience – very important to have patience with yourself. When you develop patience with yourself, you will also have more patience with the people on your team, or in your business, or organization. Trust me when I write that patience will win over force any day. Patience is sustainable, force, not so much. Be patient, and give yourself the time you need to breathe.
  4. Determination – when one is determined, they are moving forward, and do not let obstacles stand in their way. Important for every leader everywhere. Why? Because the nature of leadership ensures that obstacles will often present themselves before us. Often. Being resolute and steadfast, while also being flexible in your approach is key. You will be challenged regularly. You will also be drawn to the day-to-day operations. Normal. Yet be steadfast, and determined to incorporate strategy into your daily workflow. It is possible.
  5. Organization – understanding an organizational system that works for you is essential. It does not have to make sense to anyone else. Just you. Important, as people often think that their organization system must be understandable to others. Not so. You need to understand it, period. Also know that how you organize yourself will change as the business changes. It is supposed to.
  6. Time Management – a difficult skill set to develop for me, yet one that I have made progress on in the past few years. What I’ve learned, similar to learning to organize myself, is that there is no one way to manage time effectively. Important to understand. When you understand this, you will actively seek out new ways to manage your time, until you find the system that works for you. And, time management should also change as the business changes. It must.
  7. Vision Clarity – you must be very clear on your vision. If you are not clear, you will continue to do day-to-day tasks that are not moving you closer to achieving the goals associated with your vision. Being clear on your vision, ensures that you are moving your vision forward when you are working on the day-to-day operations. You are then always working on your strategy, even when you are working in the “weeds.”

There we go. 7 keys to creating balance between strategy and the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization. Are there other keys, you ask? Of course. These are simply the ones that I am most present to now.

There are many meaningful ways to balance strategy and day-to-day operations. How many there are matters less, than, as leaders, we try new things, and incorporate new strategies into our workflow often. Be open and flexible to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new ways of being.

Teams, businesses, and organizations change often. And, with change comes the need to be open to changing as the need changes. A must.

If you’ve tried the keys outlined in this post, awesome. If you’ve not tried them all, try a new one, try two. If you already do them all, wonderful, you’re ahead.

If you’re not sure how to incorporate these keys into your workflow, here are a couple of quick suggestions before I close.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
  1. Persistence – continue to try new things. Get your best ideas out, and invite others to collaborate. Your ideas + their ideas =.even better ideas. Continue to persist, you will find the process, system, or vision you are looking for.
  2. Prioritization – how do you prioritize your work? Know that however you prioritize your work today, there are a million other ways to prioritize. If what you are doing is not working, try something new. Remember, as the team, business or organization iterates, the way you prioritize yourself will also have to iterate.
  3. Patience – a big one. Though being persistent and determined are very important. Being patient is equally important. Give yourself the time to breath and think. A must. Schedule the time into your calendar. Make time, and let your team know this is your time to just be. Go for a walk, or just sit. Doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it daily. For a time, I had a recurring appointment on my calendar for myself. It read, breathing. And, I did just that.
  4. Determination – yep, important. Things will happen and “go wrong.” It is the nature of leadership, especially when leading innovative teams, businesses, or organizations. Stay the course. Remember, that “failure” is part and parcel of the creative process. You cannot have breakthroughs without breakdowns. They go together.
  5. Organization – similar to prioritization, trying new organizational strategies is important, and needed. Example – when I started my current job, I organized myself in an “old school” way. File folders, and lots of paper. Then I went completely digital, then back to files, and folders. Now, a combination. Again, what matters is continuing to try new things. When something’s not working, do it differently. You may be surprised how that will open up more thinking space for you.
  6. Time Management – phew, time management is so important today. I am much better at it today; yet I would say the first two years on the job, I really struggled in this area. How did I begin to improve? Continually trying new things; and, asking for help. The department administrative assistant, to this day, goes through my calendar with me, and asks this question – why do you have this meeting? Hm. And, if the meeting on my calendar is not connected to the vision, I cancel it.
  7. Vision Clarity – yep. Once you’ve become skilled in the aforementioned areas, you will have more time to work on strategy. And, once you are clear on your vision, the aforementioned keys will also become easier. Why? Because the clearer you are on the vision, the more you understand the work you really need to be doing. You begin to see other work you’ve been doing in a new light. And, you will begin to let that other work go. If the daily work is not connecting to the vision, let it go.

Alright, we’ve discussed 7 keys to balancing strategy and day-to-day operations; and, we’ve also looked at a few ways you can incorporate these keys into your workflow.

Remember, the most important thing about creating balance in your work, is to always be present to the reality that trying, and doing things in new ways is necessary and needed.

When you are unsure of what to try next, try something new, stand back and see what happens. If it works well, keep it. If not, let it go; and, then, try something else. Whatever you do, keep moving. Be and lead well.

#business, #businessplanning, #businessstrategy, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #operations, #organization, #organizationaldevelopment, #persistence, #prioritization, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #strategiplanning, #strategy, #timemangagement, #vision, #visionandstrategy

Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

#creatingchange, #development, #developmentalgrowth, #growing, #growth, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #teamdevelopment, #transformation, #transformationalgrowth

3 Steps and 9 Keys to Creating Safety on a Team in 5 Minutes

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Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Three Transformational Leadership Skills; and, creating safety was on of the three. This week, let’s take a deeper look at creating safety among those you work with, and lead. What does it take to create safety? And, how important is creating safety? I believe it is always important, and is even more so now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to be in the next few years, as we all learn about our new realities.

Creating Safety

What does it mean to work in a safe environment, where you feel like you can act and be who you really are, without fear of reprisal? Well, it means exactly that. That those on the team, in the work office, or that are a part of the organization, can be who they are. Meaning, they can act and say what is needed about the direction of the team, without fear of someone lashing out at them, and defending or justifying why their opinion is more important than theirs. The latter, doesn’t work well.

What works well? Creating an environment where people can actively question each other, even be critical of each other, yet know that they are safe. It is a big deal. If you are on a team that can act in this way, you will gain more traction on your goals and objectives.

Why?

Because you are actively talking about the issues that matter most. And, when you are talking about, and creating action plans to resolve those issues, you are creating movement. And, movement is needed and necessary to create traction.

Photo by Jason D on Unsplash

Step 1: Understand the keys to creating safety

I’m sure there are many ways to create safety on a team, or within an organization, yet I can only speak to the ones that have worked in the contexts in which I’ve worked. And, these keys, I think, can be utilized across multiple contexts, across different teams, and across many organizations.

Three keys to creating safety
  • Building relationships – developing high-quality relationships is important to creating safety on any team. Making the time to get to know each person on the team, their hopes and dreams, as well as their strengths and opportunities. Knowing each of them well is necessary to understand their perspective, and to build trust. Trust is akin to safety.
  • Fostering individual perspectives – when people have a say in how things work, and how the team moves forward, more comfort and more safety is created. People want to participate, to collaborate, to draw upon their talent, and to provide their individual perspectives on issues the team faces. Foster these perspectives.
  • Creating support systems – think safety net. People need to understand how they will get the support they need. Support can be delivered many different ways. What is important is that there is a support system in place, and that the team knows how it works.
Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

Step 2: Understand the keys to your role

As I’ve discussed in other posts, everything you do within your team and organization starts with you. The way that you develop yourself, and lead from within, will determine how you lead without. Same. Taking the time to develop skills that will move yourself forward, hence, the team, is important.

Three keys to your role
  • Being open – one thing that helps foster a safe environment is being open and available. When the team knows you are open, meaning open to new suggestions and ways of doing things, they will feel more appreciated, and more safe.
  • Being available – will also signal the team, that spending time with them is of utmost importance. I’ve always found that open environments foster the most innovation and safety.
  • Being authentic – leading with authenticity creates the possibility that the people on the team will also demonstrate authenticity. And, authentic environments foster contexts where people can give candid and honest feedback about how the team is doing, and what they see as necessary improvements.
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Step 3: Understand the keys to the team’s role

Once you are clear on your role, you will have developed the ability to understand the team’s role. And, understanding the team’s role, including each person’s role on the team is important to foster momentum, movement, and traction.

Three keys to the team’s role
  • Individual engagement – creating ways to engage each individual team member at their developmental stage is important to their growth both personally and professionally. And, opportunities for developmental growth is critical to moving teams forward.
  • Team engagement – developing ways to engage the team, and for the team to engage with each other is important to creating safety. People that don’t know each other well, don’t general trust each other, nor will they feel safe with each other.
  • Connecting the individual to the team – fostering individual development while also building the team’s development is a very important component to creating a team that knows how to move, develop, and gain traction in their work every day.

Movement and Traction

Implementing the aforementioned strategies within your team will increase the possibility of creating movement, and gaining traction. And, as the team moves forward, finding new ways to ensure that the safe environment you’ve fostered, and the team has created, is continuously redeveloped is important. Contexts change, organizations grow, they shrink, and they move forward. The ability to develop new strategies to create safety as things change is critical.

The COVID-19 pandemic is, unfortunately, a great example of a change that no one saw coming that has increased anxiety and decreased safety throughout the workforce. Now is the time to create, and recreate safety. Creating safety is an essential leadership skill, and it is also essential to growing, moving, and gaining traction on teams.

Originally posted on servantleadershipcoaching.com

#beingauthentic, #beingopen, #buildingrealtionships, #businesses, #connectingindividualstotheteam, #creatingmovementandtraction, #creatingsafety, #creatingsupportsystems, #fosteringindividualperspectives, #individualengagement, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #teamdevelopment, #teamengagement, #traction