How to Connect With Your Team When You Don’t Have Time

Connecting With People

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  ~Carl Sandburg

Having The Time To Connect

A client and I spent about 50 minutes during a recent session talking about all the things he was concerned about—meetings, motivating, and accomplishing the goals and objectives for his team. He had developed a good plan and way ahead, but something was still troubling him.

Toward the end of our call, he said, “You know, I just do not have time to connect with my people.”

“Brad,” I said, “We have talked for about an hour about how you can be a better leader.  Most everything we’ve talked about can be delegated, especially the technical work.  The one thing that can’t, however, and the thing that is the most important thing in helping you become a great leader, is connecting with your people personally, on a regular basis. You just can’t delegate that.”

He said he had never considered that.

Connecting with People 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, John Maxwell talks about the Law of Connection, and that successful leaders are always the initiator of connections.

In it he says, “They take the first step with others and then make the effort to continue building relationships.”

So how does a busy leader, who feels that they don’t even have time to take a lunch break, find the time to make that personal connection with their team? (I feel that this is the MOST important thing they do!)

Coach and author of the book There’s Not Enough Time….and other lies we tell ourselves, Jill Farmer, says it starts with getting intentional:

“There’s not going to be a magic windfall of more time falling from the sky. It’s a matter of refocusing attention and intention.”

Getting Personal

3 Things To Try to Make It Happen

1) Hone those delegation skills.

If you are a perfectionist (or a recovering one, like me), you know that no one can accomplish tasks quite like you can. After all, by the time you show someone else how to do something the way you want it done, you could have it already finished. This is a common complaint I hear all the time.

But consider this: If you don’t delegate, they don’t learn.

You only grow your team or organization when they learn to do things without you doing it for them.  Time spent up front, teaching and coaching them to accomplish tasks that they can not only learn to do, but will help their growth, is well worth the investment.

2)  Try bagging it.

Try hosting a brown bag lunch in your office, if you have the space, or in a conference room if you don’t. Invite one team at a time, or mix it up to help people connect with people from different teams. Tell them to bring their lunch—it’s informal.

This isn’t about work, so you don’t have to prepare anything, but you might invite them to ask you questions if they desire.

If you are an introvert, and don’t do well with chit-chat, ask them a couple of questions such as: “What would you do if you couldn’t have this career?” or “If money were no object, what’s the one thing you have always wanted to try?” You will be surprised at how little you have to say and how much you learn about people.

 3)  Block out the time

When you have an important meeting, you schedule it on your calendar.  Since these are important meetings, schedule them just as you would any other meeting.  Block out a few minutes every day, or even twice a week, to visit a different work team.  Even if you just to stop and say “Hello, how’s it going?”–that’s a connection.

By scheduling it in small time increments, you don’t have to worry about the day getting away from you and realizing a week has gone by without connecting with anyone on a personal level.  You might want to add a few minutes in to take a walk, or have some quiet time to yourself (really?).

Schedule at least one 30-minute meeting with your direct reports once a month, depending on how many you have.  One executive I know schedules all her team members for an hour with her once a quarter, because that is the time she can afford.

Time Is On Your Side

Nothing can replace the precious time you spend with your team–it affects morale, productivity and your business culture.  It can raise a team from one that is mediocre to one that excels in pushing your organization to the next level.

Earl Nightingale said:  “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

What ideas and recommendations have you used to help you make some time to connect with your people? How have these benefited you, your team, and your results? i would love to hear your thoughts!

******

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Susan (Chandler) Foster

Susan C. Foster is an Master Certified Coach & Owner of Susan Foster Coaching
She coaches & facilitates in Leadership, Motivation & Building Great Teams
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog

Image Sources: 4.bp.blogspot.com

About these ads

Leadership and Conflict: Deal With It Now or Pay For It Later

No one likes conflict (no one normal, at least). The feeling your body gets when it knows you have to address the awkward situations, the humongous elephant in the living room, or the long dreaded “talk.”

Dealing with conflict can sap the energy out of you, increase your stress, decrease your performance and your productivity.

In some cases, experiencing conflict can make you feel down right ill.

Labels and Leadership

It’s funny how some people are labeled or referred to as conflict - when in reality no one (in their right mind) would say they are conflict chasers. So now that I’ve merely reinforced what you already knew about conflict (that it stinks); why in the world am I writing about the importance of dealing with it?

My answer is simple; dealing with conflict is a mandatory part of leadership.

The Danger of Not Dealing with Conflict

Conflict can be like a virus; it will continue to aggressively spread as long as it is unattended to or passively addressed. As leaders we cannot afford to take passive approaches to dealing with conflict, nor can we avoid conflict and escape it’s impact.

As a good friend said recently,  “Let’s face it, awkward conversations are awkward. There’s never a time when they will not be awkward.”

This is often the approach many take when it comes to dealing with conflict;  I call this the “wait for the right time approach.” With this type of thinking, we convince ourselves that we’re trying to do what’s best by being considerate of the situation. Look I’m not saying be inconsiderate and ignore opportunities to best handle situations.  What I am saying is handle the situation! And handle it as quickly and diligently as possible.

When conflict is left unattended or avoided, it usually spreads its influence,  increases its intensity,  and deepens its complexity. Much like forest fires, un-addressed conflict will continue to cause more damage while becoming more difficult to handle.

Seeing Conflict from a Leader’s Perspective

While there are serious dangers to un-addressed or avoided conflict; a leader must also see conflict in the way that few are able to see it; as a necessary part of progress and growth. Leaders must remember that although conflict should not go unattended or avoided, it should also not be prevented.

Let me clarify: Conflict for conflict sake should be prevented and avoided at all cost because there is nothing of value in that.

However,  conflict for the sake of going through the healthy friction necessary for developing clarity and cohesiveness is essential to any team or organization. I have seen leaders and groups suffer because they did not understand this concept. They would have conflict, not deal with it, experience the consequences of doing nothing, and as a result try to prevent future conflicts from happening (which usually created conflicts anyway).

As a leader you must be able to recognize healthy conflict and unhealthy conflict AND be committed to addressing them appropriately and in a timely manner.

Practical/ Unorthodox Ways of Dealing with Conflict

1. On the count of 3. 1…2…3…GO!

If you find yourself avoiding and constantly putting it off. Don’t give yourself time to thinking about it..do it! Schedule a text message to request a time to speak with the person or better yet, just hit send now! Or pick up the phone and just dial their number and don’t give yourself time think about it (you’ll have enough thinking to do when they pick up). While there could a right time, there’s rarely ever a perfect time.

2. Create a Healthy Culture for Awkward Conversations

Have team members learn and practice critically critiquing team ideals and approaches together. Recognize and encourage individuals who ask the tough questions and constructively test the status quo of thinking. Pass on the mantra, “An awkward conversation will always be awkard…get use to never getting use to it.”

3. Allow Passion a Voice in the Room

Often people who engage in conflict are aggressive and passionate about their thoughts and views. Recognize passionate people’s passion, tell them that you value what they have to say because you value that they care.

Often this can reduce tension in the room because overly passionate people often don’t think people hear them or care about the issue as much as they do. This will help them see that you’re not enemies, but teammates fighting for the same cause

4. Address Conflict In a Solution Oriented Manner

Too often people say they’ve addressed conflict among team members or people by mentioning the issue publicly in an announcement to the group. This is talking about conflict not addressing conflict.

The goal is not to say, “I said something about it” but to see the conflict resolved to the best of your abilities.

Usually this means first addressing individuals on an one on one basis where dialog can take place.  In the context there should be more questions than statements being made to the individual with the goal of getting as much context about the situation as possible. Keep details of conversations confidential which allow people to really talk.

Address and correct accordingly, but leave the room valuing the individual no less as a result of your talk. This approach shows your personal care and your professionalism, which will help individuals see the importance and the benefit of addressing issues well.

Remember, dealing with conflict is one of the non-negotiables of leadership. Deal with them now, so you don’t have to pay for them later. I only prefer to pay for things that I actually want; I can assure you that conflicts are not on my wish list.

So I choose to deal with them instead!

So how do you deal with conflict as a leader? Do you tend to avoid it at all cost? Or do you tend to deal with it quickly? What are some ways that you can learn to better deal with conflict in the workplace that will yield better performance by everyone? I would love to hear your thoughts!

******

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Books

Image Sources: brainalchemist.com

On Leadership and People, Process and Production

People Process Production

Regular readers know that I try to help both newcomers and experienced project management practitioners and other leaders to achieve above average results using what they have at their disposal.

Because very few projects have the luxury of having the best of the best, the kingpins, or the people who make things happen on their teams, project managers need to be exceptional people managers and motivators. (Projects by nature are risky, so organizations usually keep the best people focused on the known, the proven and the established.)

The leadership method described here is not well documented – nor is it recognized as an “official” management or leadership strategy – but I can guarantee that it is a principle that will work in both management and leadership environments.

People, Process and Production

People

Most people have lives outside of work, ambitions, aspirations, hopes and dreams. If you follow one simple rule – EVERYBODY IS IMPORTANT – you will move mountains.

Acceptance, appreciation, interest and above all trust are the highest forms of recognition. If you expose your team members to these (genuine) affections, they will find ways to align themselves to your goals, they will search for ways to excel and I promise you that they will search for the plate to step up to.

If someone is wanted, regarded and trusted, they reward such positive treatment with the behavior that is suitable. If your team is made up of the “second-best” or even not that flattering groups, you will be able to show that their behavior, dedication and hard work is appreciated, recognized and NOTICED.

Superseding the once “best-of-the-best” has happened to many of the people who were on my teams. The moment they get used to the good behavior = good results programme, they are hard to stop…

What do you have to lose? Give it a go…

Process

In its narrowest form, a process describes how we move from one point (state) to another. If we think about the common understanding of a process, it can be likened to a roadmap.

What is hidden from view are:

  • Departure point – Known
  • People responsible for each action / task / node –Known
  • Information required to complete each action / task / node – Known
  • Input requirements for each action / task / node – Known
  • Output requirements for each action / task / node – Known
  • Success factors for each action / task / node – Known
  • Documentation for action / task / node – Known
  • Completion requirements for entire process – Known
  • Success factors for entire process – Known

If people know and understand what they are required to do, by when and to which standard, they will do whatever is required to achieve the result (successfully). If they understand who will take something forward, they humanize the situation, they treat others as clients, and your example (above) is sound, they will treat each other in the same way.

If you look inside you – you will be able to attribute each failure that you have had to the absence of clearly defined goals and objectives – internal or external.

Production

The sentence that people DO NOT want communicated inside an organization is this:

>>> IT IS ACCEPTABLE TO FAIL.

The reason organizations try and avoid this is because they have not learnt that the correct statement should be this:

>>> IT IS UNACCEPTABLE NOT TO TRY!!!

Bloopers, failures and whoopers can be repaired – with honesty and integrity.

If everybody is allowed to try their best, fail, learn, and move forward – progress in every sense will be staggering.

Fear is one of the most negative emotions that people can experience. If they are required to perform any function within a basis of fear you can predict the results.

Q: So if your team is motivated, know what they need to do, and they know that their best will be acceptable – what should the manager or leader do?

A: Stay out of their way!!

The only way that a leader or manager can enhance the performance would be through enablement – Make sure they have what they need, help where they need help, encourage when the day is dark and praise when the sun is shining.

THE ABSOLUTE PPP RULE:

Superior production (delivery of agreed results within time-frames, budget and materials consumption frameworks) is achieved by positively motivated people, doing what is expected of them, and working without fear.

GUARANTEE: If this does not work for you – Let me know!!! I will publicly renounce the statement!!!

Please feel free to comment, share and re-post this…

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–

Anton van den Berg is a Project Professional at Aveng Limited
He serves Organisations to Advance to the Next Market Level
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog

Image Sources: tycoonplaybook.com

Adaptive Intelligence: Your Organization’s Cultural Operating System

 

Chamelion

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Civilization needs a new operating system.” ~Paul Hawken

Pressure Test

Here is a quick test to help you understand both emotional and analytical thinking.

What do you normally do when your computer has a glitch and that box pops up inviting you to “report the problem?

  • Do you hit the “yes” button and dutifully wait for the computer to do its analysis and send the message?
  • Or do you hit “no” knowing this issue will rear its ugly head again soon?

There’s complex emotional and analytic thinking behind this decision that is analogous to dealing with annoyances in our working lives.

For example, if you hit “no” you’re deciding that although annoying its a small distraction compared with the important task at hand. However, if you’ll need to follow the same procedure and get the same bug you’re more likely to hit “yes”. You might also consider this to be the software provider’s responsibility; “why should I do their job for them.

(Mind you if everyone hit “no” the consequence of this global “e-silence” is the bug never gets fixed…)

We have the same basic choices with our problems at work. Do we do something about them or put up with it stoically? If enough people fail to report the problem it festers creating an invisible block to personal and organisational effectiveness, competitiveness and eventually achievement.

Sharing Important Information

The power and impact of sharing information was described eloquently by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his TED Talk. - The military case for sharing knowledge.

Sharing is power” ~Gen. Stanley McChrystal

All organisations have limited human, financial and physical resources and must prioritise. For a problem to get over their attention threshold and trigger a response, a certain number of “complaints” must be received.

Managers decide how urgent/big the problem is and determine a response. In other words every user has 100% responsibility over error reporting and the organisation has 100% responsibility for its response.

This is a classical trust-based dynamic relationship.

When it’s working really well, a cultural operating system grows stronger iteratively from the power its crowd feeding back.

A Cultural Operating System

Microsoft’s Windows OS and Apple’s Mac OS are akin to a command and control-based management system where the end-user/staff has modest input.

Whereas, Linux, the epitome of an iterative open source process, is similar to a flat organisational system.

How would an iterative cultural operating system based on the concept of Adaptive Intelligence underpin effectiveness and success?

In “The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky describe Adaptive Leadership as, “an iterative process involving three key activities:

1) Observing events and patterns around you

2) Interpreting what you observe

3) Designing interventions based on 1 & 2.”

I have added some steps to include:

4) Observation of the effects of interventions

5) Flexing interventions to give optimal positive results (Fig. 1).

Fig.1. A dynamic adaptive positive feedback cycle

AI Fig 1

 

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive Intelligence (AQ) is the dynamic expression of our Analytical Intelligence (AQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Positive Intelligence (PQ = internal motivation).

The exact flavour of AQ we deploy needs to be flexed to fit any given changing situation we experience. Operating from imbalanced IQ, EQ or PQ creates inappropriate responses based on habit.

If you want to use more of your AQ become more authentically aware of yourself and others.

Organisations need to develop deeper and broader corporate self-awareness. As a first step you might invite everyone to hit the social equivalent of the “yes” button whenever they observe problems or they have potentially good idea. This virtuous process relies on everyone believing they have influence, will be heard and their input valued and acted on.

This resonates with our software analogy nicely (Figure 2.).

Fig. 2 Comparison of computing and organisational operating systems.

AI Fig 2

Enhanced AQ

Enhanced AQ is delivered by:

  • Raising individual and organisational awareness
  • Transparent communication
  • Authentic trust
  • Objective measurable action.

It is powered by curiosity and authentic feedback and founded on 100% personal responsibility.

Stifled AQ

Poorly functioning AQ-based cultural operating systems are recognised from symptoms including:

  • Poor recruitment
  • High staff turnover
  • Conflict
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor staff engagement
  • Missed opportunities/deadlines
  • Inability to create trends and compete effectively

Long lasting symptomatic improvement comes from paying persistent attention to your cultural operating system (AQ). You keep a healthy AQ system going by constant vigilance, bug fixes (e.g. removing stupid rules), cultural upgrades (e.g. wellbeing-based cultures) and inviting everyone to be more curious about their daily working lives (See – How To Use Your Daily Story As A Powerful Seminar For Achievement).

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience.” ~Unknown

Flexible Open System

An adaptive iterative cultural process equips leaders with high quality dynamic information as well as the authentic human perceptions which create exciting visions and sustain meaningful change.

Thoughts for today

  • How often do you look under the hood of your organisation’s cultural operating system?
  • Notice to what extent your organisation’s culture relies on its corporate hardware (hierarchy, IT, systems & policies) compared with software (culture & people).
  • How much attention and time do you devote to awareness raising efforts for you and your staff?
  • Do you have a flexible open system for all staff to report problems and ideas?
  • Do you have an adaptive iterative cycle (AIC)?
  • How might you incorporate staff feedback and ideas into your AIC drive to improvement?

Recommended reading

The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky

 

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

Image Sources: tommyland

Hey Leaders: Lighten Up a Little

Walt Disney

One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.”

Now think about it a minute. You don’t need to “grow up,” in the common sense of the word, to be “professional” or a “leader,” It’s all about how you embrace yourself – your attitude – and how you present yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having some “kid” left in you. Having that bit of kid makes you more approachable – more likeable – easier to associate with.

The Right Balance

We all know the people who have changed as they’ve been promoted. They become more (too) serious and in the process lose touch with the people they supervise. They lose the kid in themselves – quite often on purpose.

When you lose that part of you it causes you to lose your:

  • flexibility
  • understanding
  • communication
  • ability to retain employee’s
  • ability to empathize.

It may also cause you to destroy your:

  • culture
  • ability to attract talent
  • current relationship’s.

What am I saying here? Act like a child? Not at all. Just keep an open mind. Continue with that ability to relate to your employees – on all levels. You did it as a peer so why lose it as a supervisor. Have some fun. Think about the best work experience you’ve ever had. I bet it had something to do with having fun.

Being An Encourager

A number of years ago I had a manager, a leader, (we’ll call him Bob) that was moving up quickly. Our team worked extremely well together and enjoyed it. We could joke around with Bob – not like a “buddy” – and we could all brainstorm to come up with any off-the-wall idea. In fact, it was encouraged. That’s a big key – no matter how goofy the idea, there may be something to it. You can’t cut ideas down. Bob always smiled, was energetic, and even poked a little fun at himself now and then. Bob’s position was putting him pretty high, but we were always on a first name basis.

But something, we don’t know what, happened in his life that drained the kid out of him. He became that serious “professional”, and it was all downhill from there. There was no more fun, no more lunches together, no more cohesiveness . . . and no more goofy ideas. People started transferring and Bob’s quick climb came to a screeching halt.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Organizations Who Have Fun

What’s one of the most common things that the most successful organizations have with each other? They have fun. People are allowed to hold on to that most precious part of their personal history.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Disney
  • Zappos
  • Flickr
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Cisco

If employees can say that they’re having fun at work, it also means that they’re not as uptight and communication will flourish because people are easier to approach.

Fun, But Serious

Now, they call it work for a reason. So I don’t mean wear a red nose, do magic tricks or a stand-up acts all day long. However, a sense of humor can go a very long way. It’s a great way to bond with people. It instantly lightens the mood and lifts morale.

The office is the office. There has to be some seriousness also. Some of us are in some very serious occupations. Just remember that no matter how serious the work is, it’s still being performed by human beings and we all need a little time to lighten the mood. As a leader, you have to be accessible and able to hear and sense when performance is needing a lift. Better yet is to not even wait that long.

Terminal Seriousness?

Do you know the general tone of your office or work environment?

Take this short quiz from Jody Urquhart to get an idea whether your staff is suffering from terminal seriousness.

Yes or No

Do you regularly catch people laughing or smiling at work?

YES or NO

When something funny happens do people stop and appreciate it?

YES or NO

Does your organization have fun activities at least monthly?

YES or NO

Do you have tools (fun giveaways, drawings) to invite employees to participate in having fun in your environment?

YES or NO

Are managers usually optimistic and smiling at work?

YES or NO

If you answer NO to two or more of these questions, your staff probably suffers from “terminal seriousness,” which is negatively affecting morale and productivity.

The Right Environment

If you need to create a turnaround in your culture, just remember, it’s not your job to MAKE work fun but rather it’s your job to create the conditions where fun and happiness can flourish.

Are your employees relaxed, or uptight? Do you see many smiles at work? Are you projecting a positive attitude? What can you do to create the opportunity for fun?

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources: oasidellemamme.it

On Leadership, You and Your Modus Operandi

Please watch this short two-minute Ted Talk above and then read on…

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda

Your Modus Operandi

Did you know that you have a blueprint on the way you think? And like most people, you are generally locked into this modus operandi. This blueprint is called your assumptions. But don’t feel too bad about this. Everyone operates on an internal list of assumptions.

Otherwise we could not thrive in our complex and confusing world. We would have no bearings and would continually get lost.

Our brains use psychological frameworks largely based on assumptions about value and likelihood so that we avoid cognitive chaos. However, if we see our assumptions as a “best fit” which if we pay no attention can go terribly wrong, we gain a clearer idea of how nature has equipped us for misadventure.

Living With Misjudgement

Take a look at the psychology of misjudgement with this Daniel Gilbert’s TED talk.

Daniel’s examples are relatively simple compared with the complexity of our assumptions about how the “real” world, about other people, and about ourselves.

Our earliest assumptions come from our parents, siblings, friends, teachers etc. and colour how we process new experiences and information for much of our later life. These assumptions are the filters overlaying our personal lens through which we interact with the world.

Our unique experience is just that: unique. And we use our assumptions to make sense of this. The problems begin when we attempt to impose our unique personal assumptions on the world in general and expect everyone else to conform.

Seeking Different Assumptions

If one world view is too narrow it follows we must seek more experiences and assumptions to broaden our world view. As we can’t live everyone else’s life nor acquire their assumptions we must learn to share them by collaboration.

“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

Here there is a fork in the road. In one direction lies the pit of Groupthink and the other the garden of collaboration. If all you want is to have your assumptions reinforced then surround yourself with yes men. You will get a nice warm feeling but you court very public failure.

“Groupthink is characterized by a shared “illusion of invulnerability,” an exaggerated belief in the competence of the group, a “shared illusion of unanimity” within the group, and a number of other symptoms” ~ Fredric Solomon and Robert Q. Marston

On Courage and Facing New Challenges

If you have the courage to attract people with different views and encourage them to voice theirs, all evidence shows that together you will be more creative especially in facing challenge. Your innovations and solutions will most likely last longer and be more directly relevant.

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Collaboration is vital but insufficient for genius innovation. You need creative tension. One definition of tension is “A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements.” If we think of the most creative people we think of polymaths or renaissance men (and of course women.)

They investigated art, mathematics, biology, music, literature etc. etc. seeing no boundaries.

Our modern world is too complex to excel at more than a few things so we must build “Renaissance Teams” to cover the ground. The leader’s challenge is to nurture creative tension, appreciate different assumptions, and gel the whole in a vision which supports common purpose.

Your Actions Today

  • As you approach each person, task or meeting make a note of your assumptions.
  • Reflect on the “life history” of each assumption; where/who did it come from?
  • On a scale of 1 (my opinion) to 10 (the truth,) rate each of your assumptions.
  • Were you able to appreciate, understand and integrate other people’s assumptions into your world view?

Recommended reading

To hone your assumption busting skills try The Reflective Journal by Barbara Bassot

Gary is the author of the upcoming book “Your Personal Leadership Book of Days – Avoid Cookie Cutter Solutions By Using Your Adaptive Intelligence.” Download a free mini-version HERE.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

Image Sources:

Wise Leaders Embrace “Benign Subversives”

Benign Subversives

We all hate naysayers, snipers and back room gossips. They subvert our vision, undermine our message and divert attention from our objectives. They must be rooted out, disciplined, fired!

“Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.” ~ Henry Steele Commager

Valuing the Truth

I understand you, I really do. But if you are to excel as a leader you must develop a taste for high quality. sometimes unpalatable,  knowledge about the “State of the nation.” You need to discern clearly between corrosive people and other people who simply don’t see it your way, but are nonetheless well-meaning and really want the organisation to succeed. These are the “Benign Subversives.”

As a leader, you should embrace them as important allies, uncomfortable as it may be at first!

Recognizing the Benign Subversives

How can you recognise Benign Subversives and how best to employ their energy? The answer is to re-frame your impression of them and their objectives and see how you can learn from them in support of your own strategy and aims. History is littered with examples of leaders, organisations and even governments whose drive to uphold an increasingly untenable core vision mutates into self-fulfilling “groupthink.” The organisation ends up assuming the best of everything and never prepares for the worst. Schlomo Ben Hur, Nikolas Kinley and Karsten Jonsen describe this destructive scenario wonderfully in their paper “Coaching Executive Teams to Reach Better Decisions.”

“Leaders can get stuck in groupthink because they’re really not listening, or they’re listening only to what they want to listen to, or they actually think they’re so right that they’re not interested in listening. And that leads to a lot of suboptimal solutions in the world.” ~Jacqueline Novogratz

The Benign Subversive is Your Antidote

Leaders readily employ expensive external executive coaches to assist in their personal quest for understanding and success. They accept their challenges and inconvenient observations and pay highly for the privilege.

Great coaches act like human mirrors showing their clients the truth in their thinking, feeling and acting.

If you re-frame each internal Benign Subversive in this role you’ll see them as a positive force for purposeful change not an enemy.

Recalibrating Your Team

If you publicly affirm their valuable contribution and encourage them, the quality of their contribution improves as they become more internally motivated.

What’s more, other less assertive people will begin to contribute.

The richness and utility of this transparent information stream is the granular intelligence that great leaders and organisations thrive upon. For a research perspective De Dreu and West concluded in 2001 that, “minority dissent stimulates creativity and divergent thought, which, through participation, manifest as innovation.” What the Benign Subversive observes may remain inconvenient and uncomfortable, but is a vital contribution to avoiding failure or achieving success. Rely on them to give you another view, one which would otherwise be invisible to you. As leader you then have the choice to accept or reject their views but at least your decisions will be based on more complete information. Remember this…

“It is easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.” ~Leo McKern

Taking the Next Steps

Now consider this:

  • Notice who in your team or organisation exhibits the characteristics of a Benign Subversive. How do you view them – problem or solution?
  • Gently encourage objective, non-judgemental observation and criticism; how do people respond? Decide how best to exhibit meaningful responses.
  • Notice the balance between your positive constructive versus negative destructive criticism is response your team or organisation reports to you.
  • How do you react emotionally to a report who disagrees with you or brings you inconvenient news?
  • Notice what happens when you receive objective criticism with a simple “Thank you I will definitely consider what you say”.

Recommended Reading
Managing Corporate Communications in the Age of Restructuring, Crisis, and Litigation: Revisiting Groupthink in the Boardroom by David Silver.
Get your free mini-version of “Your Personal Leadership Book of Days – Avoid Cookie Cutter Solutions by Using Your Adaptive Intelligence

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web

Image Sources: fortunewallstreet.files.wordpress.com