Since a decade or so, it has been a good measure to involve people, ask for their opinion, and get them engaged in most company decisions and initiatives. This is intended to cultivate intrinsic motivation and a more enjoyable workplace. Now, we look back and think: what went wrong?
The employees don't see how their contributions have been considered in the decision making process, coordination efforts are getting bigger and complex, and managers are fighting with inertia and resistance. On top of that, everything seems to be a crisis today and we are involved in daily firefighting. As a result, we fall back to micromanagement, forget about being transparent, and all previous good intentions are thrown out of the window.
It appears that we are schlepping a huge rock behind us. Who feels like this today?
Is there a different, alternative way? Instead of being a truck driver with an ever increasing load, imagine you are a conductor of an orchestra. The load is distributed to the musicians in your ecosystem; you are providing a platform for the group of people to collaborate together on the output and the manage the change in their environment independently. This will create motivation in your team and it will make your job easier. How does that look like?
What are the key ingredients to transform into a director's kind of leader? In my experience, it takes a few, simple steps:
I know it is so easy to fall back to the old way of doing things in times of stress. It is important to practice this leadership style and establish routines. Lasting change will come very soon.
How does it feel to make this switch to an orchestra conductor?
People often see me as an evangelist for letting go of control. What I mean by this is a leadership style that is focusing on creating a platform and an environment for the organisation to be successful. Basically that is less of 'command & control' and more of 'facilitate & guide. In practical terms, this is delegating the relevant decision making power to the front.
Ok, nice. "I agree with the principles but it is so hard." - that is what I often hear from leaders. And yes, this requires a mindset shift from everyone in the organisation and that a bit of an effort to establish new routines. So, why should I invest in change? Through my change management practice, I have collected evidence from four different sources that illustrate why delegating power and providing self-control leads towards success.
Drive, Dan Pink - As a change manager I believe in motivating people intrinsically and Dan Pink describes this with simple principles in his book 'Drive'. Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery are the key ingredients to intrinsic motivation. The element autonomy is then about giving the people and the team to freedom to decide on their priorities and to design their way of working by themselves. In the end, autonomy removes a lot of frustration and is key to engagement.
Turn the Ship Around, David Marquet - If delegating power works as a leadership principle in a submarine of the US Army, then this can work anywhere! David Marquet has transformed Santa Fe into a leadership development campus where leaders are leading leaders. In his book he describes why bringing control to the front is so important and explores the two support pillars: capability and clarity.
Scrum.org - agile software development has taken over the business world and it is all about delivering results fast. The key principles here are understanding the customers, experimenting fast in short iterations and establishing a self-organising team. The scrum teams take ownership of their priorities, their roles, their way of working.
Lean Management - when managing change in operations, teams often rely on lean management. We have all heard of the 7 wastes of lean and how the goal is to create flow. All of this though, is only possible if this can happen directly within the operations, removing hierarchical bottlenecks and allowing the frontline teams to make decisions; this is called shared leadership in lean.
In simple terms, I believe if you want to reach your targets faster, and you want that your outcome is creating more value, then letting go of control is a great recipe; the changes in your organisation will happen smoother and with more success.
What are your routines and behaviours that are supporting this new leadership style?
Drive, Dan Pink
Turn the Ship Around, David Marquet
So What is Agile Really About?
What Is Shared Leadership For Lean?
One observation I made over the past years is that there seems to be a growing gravitation towards focus on individual work. This not only establishes silo mentality and makes collaborating across departments, geographies and hierarchical levels more difficult. This also stimulates individualism within teams; a blame culture is nurtured and the spirit of working together fades away. Elements that are nudging in this direction are the way we set objectives and rewards, the mandate of individual job description, the setup of functional organisational structures, etc. They often reward individual contribution over team achievements.
At the same time, there are tons of information and concepts that praise and promote the fact that we can reach ultimate success only by collaborating with others: Google research, High Performing Teams, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, etc. While we can be efficient as an individual, the great achievements and the effectiveness of an organisation only stems from the collaborative advantage we develop in groups of people.
Why do we have this controversy between individual and collaborative efforts? Maybe it is the lack of ability and tools that nurture, cultivate and nudge towards the right behaviour and mindset. Here are some ideas from my experience.
Does this sound like a lot of work? I admit, this is not a shortcut. Still, these efforts are a worthwhile investment that leads to lasting success and extraordinary results. Benefits are that we unleash creativity, we engage and motivate the people, we establish a psychological safe work environment, we retain people and we enable the company to grow beyond the current box.
What have you recently done to stimulate cross-silo collaboration in your team?
Source: re:work - The five keys to a successful Google team
Read more about Magic Pill #1 - Reflect
Your company sets aside a certain percentage of your work to be innovative. You and your peers are supposed to come up with the new big thing. And creativity simply doesn't strike. Improvements seem to be incremental. Your customers for a long time didn't experience that 'wow effect'. Something is wrong. And, you are not alone. Many companies come to Hive17 Consulting to seek for inspiration and creating a new spin to their operations.
Going down the same path will lead to the same destination.
One key element what we are offering is thinking out of the box. No, it is not enough that we at Hive17 are thinking out of the box. The teams we are supporting need to think out of the box! How are we facilitating this change? Three elements.
Creating a positive environment. This is important because our brain works more creatively when we are in a positive emotional state. New ideas flow and we are able to build on top of the ideas of others. Here we aim at creating a meaningful context, allow people to warm up; something that simply works better in person.
Use a new approach to problem solving. When you keep applying the same methodology, you might reach similar results. That's why we introduce new problem solving methodologies, for example design thinking. And if you are already using it, then it is a good idea to ask another person to facilitate through the journey.
Ask different people. Diversity sparks new ideas; when we open up our mind and our perspective, new solutions will flow. Important here is to put more efforts on customer centricity. Who are the groups of people you are creating value for? Going broad on this question and talking to representatives of these groups, is a good start.
How often do you feel that you and your teams are thinking out of the box?
Resistance during a transformation journey can build up at any time, at any part of your organisation. Two elements are vital to overcome barriers: keep positive engagement high and develop the right skills. Both elements will increase confidence and therefore smoothen the path to the future state.
Hi, when we start a transformation program, we are pretty excited about what is coming. How excited are the adopters? Often, they don't feel ready and well equipped for their upcoming change. How can be then accelerate the confidence and the capabilities in our adopters?
In this series, we introduced the four knowledge areas of the CPC change management methodology. These themes guide us on what to consider in our change activities.
My name is Tim Wieringa and I am a change management practitioner here in Singapore.
Today, we talk about engagement and enabling. This knowledge area is targeted at two things: the motivation and the ability of the adopters; the people we want to guide to the future state.
Let me illustrate this with an example. About a year ago, I was supporting several teams in an agile transformation. They conducted regular pulse surveys and unfortunately, the psychological safety score was pretty low. One specific leader shared with me that the motivation was very low and the team members' behaviour was very reactive. We addressed this with a small self-organization program which was very impactful to drive ownership, priority setting and proactive behaviour; essential qualities for an agile team.
With this case study, we understand that the change journey is individual, and we need to feel the pulse of the adopters on where resistance is building up. And address them at the root. This might be a simple skills program or the broader aspects of the transformation.
Thank you for listening and click on the link below to learn more about how to become a Certified Associated in Change Management, and stay tuned for the next episode.
Hive17 Consulting is excited to announce the partnership between CPC Consulting and TUV Rheinland to bring a new change management certification to Singapore and Southeast Asia. These two partners have been offering the programs in Germany and China and now decided to expand their regional reach.
Change is a constant in today's times - we are all on journeys to capture new markets and innovating our value proposition to our customers. How successful are your transformation initiatives? Do you have the feeling that the adoption takes too much time? What is your recipe against low motivation and high resistance?
The certification program designed by CPC Consulting is successfully combining a broad view across different methodologies and distilling these into their own clearly structured and hands-on approach. Hive17 Consulting is endorsing the CPC methodology not only based on its simplicity; we also support the hybrid learning path: the program is structured in three tiers, as a combination of asynchronous online learning and synchronous classroom workshops.
What do you think about these programs? Who in your organisation network might be interested as well? Please spread out the exciting news to interested friends.
In one of the projects I am supporting, we are going through regular activities to define and review objectives and key results. In this context, the difference between output and outcome is emphasised. Outputs are defined as features the team can develop, like a information dashboard. Outcomes are defined as business value the teams can impact, for example customer insights. In this context, the teams should focus more on the business outcome; they create more meaning for the customers and also for the team members themselves.
While this distinction as a concept is good, I feel that in practice it is sometimes difficult to grasp that distinction. In the example above, we can argue that customer insights are an output, and the outcome is the new solutions we can create based on the insight. That's why, I want to suggest that we are going deeper in discovering and defining our goals.
In problem solving, I often apply the method of the Five Whys to better understand and comprehend an issue, a challenge, an opportunity at hand. Based on the these whys, we can discover root causes and explore a wider range of reasons how we can address the problem. This helps us to find better solutions and opportunities that were not obvious at the beginning.
I think, we can apply the same method for goals, objectives and key results. We want to better understand why we are creating a specific feature. And if we are not going far enough with that understanding, we are limiting our solution horizon and constraining the meaning and purpose for the teams. On the other hand, we want to motivate and engage ourselves and the people around us.
The next time we are defining our goals and OKRs, let's ask the team what is the outcome that comes next - 5 times. For example: more customer insights > new solutions that create more customer value > more co-creation together with the customer > better solutions for the larger ecosystem.
The benefits of the Five Whys for goals are a) identify better solutions, b) create meaning & purpose, and c) cultivate more team engagement.
How do you see you can apply the five whys for your objectives?
While I am partnering with teams to allow them to become stronger, faster and successful in competitive, complex and ever-changing business environments, I often take out the tool of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). When implemented correctly, they allow teams to get aligned into a common direction, to focus on what needs to be done now, and to create transparency on where we are and where we want to shift resources. When handled carelessly, then the implementation can also lead to frustration and disengagement.
Where as a leader do I need to be careful with when implementing OKRs?
When I am implementing OKRs, I put a lot of focus on defining them with autonomy in the team. There are a number of external elements that give direction to the team, for example the company vision, market developments, customers' needs & insight and so on. Then, it is up to the team how they want to define and formulate the objectives they want to aim at in the long term. And, then identify the key results they want to achieve in the next three months. The team is in the driver seat and is in constant communication with their leaders to create alignment. In my observation, this process has proven to be highly motivating and meaningful to the teams.
We heard many times that goals need to be specific, and yes, for the short-term key results it is important to bring clarity on the work we want to engage in now. At the same time, making the objectives too specific can act as a barrier to exploring alternative ways to reach the north star.
Ambitious targets are a two-sided sword. And recently in my work I see that teams are simply exhausted and demotivated because they don't see how they can possibly achieve their OKRs. I often explain teams that they better travel light on their journey (with a smaller set of key results) and when these are completed, they can look a their backlog and "load" new key results. If their backpack is too heavy, it will slow them down. In this sense, it is good enough to aim at 70-80% achievement of the key results - something that I have read in the original description of OKRs (re:work).
People are inherently ambitious with the right purpose guiding them. Targets don't need to be ambitious.
Tracking and scoring OKRs is also a delicate path. Here the clear intention is creating transparency and input to decide where to allocate resources for the next month. This review step is intended to create breathing space and reflection on where we are on the journey. There needs to be a level of trust between the different parties to make the review process smooth. When no trust exists, this activity will end up in frustrating micromanagement.
Thanks to the Corporate Rebels to inspire this reflection with their article The Dark Side Of OKRs (And Why We Should Care).
What are the pitfalls you have been observing when introducing OKR?
"How do I motivate my staff?" This is a common question and an exciting one for me. This week I started to bring it in relation with resistance to change. I think these two topics are two sides of the same coin.
How do I motivate? How do I remove the resistance to change? The answer in my eyes is "simple" and from the start, I admit it is not easy to actually do it - let's get later to this.
If you impose change on people, they will resist. This is basically wired in our brains. When you provide the space to people to define their own change, they are excited about the things that will come. They are motivated to start their change journey. This means, true motivation and change comes from within.
As a leader, what do I need to do? Something many people don't feel comfortable to do: let go of control. In their respective scope, allow teams to define what they want to achieve and how they want to get there. This means give them the necessary decision-making power and resources. This freedom is exciting and unleashes a huge potential.
OK, I get that... How do I get started?
Letting go of control is scary. So, let's start with something small, an area where risk is small and where your teams and you as a leader can try out, how the delegation of control works in your environment. In this case study, you can find an example in a factory. Another example is giving ownership of the office coffee area. Recently, I am also suggesting to give your people control over where and when they work. Why not?
One last question: how did you feel when you took responsibility over a certain area?
Many companies are in the process to define the annual performance goals and in this context, we often talk about accountability. Harvard Business Review was recently sharing some interesting insights, how these goals are set; for example, 21% of the employees feel that they can control their goals and 69% of employees feel that they don't perform up to their potential. How are you creating motivation and ownership during these goal-setting conversations?
At Hive17 Consulting, we are conducting Vision-to-Action programs that translate your strategy into changes in people's daily work. In this program, we create an environment where the teams, the employees, are defining their objectives themselves. As a result, we have observed that these teams are taking more ownership of the outcome, are collaborating closer together, and the delivery quality improved.
What are the key points that drive engagement during the goal setting period?
How do you feel about giving away control?
Source: How to Actually Encourage Employee Accountability
We are excited to provide you with the findings of our follow-up study about how leaders in Asia and Europe are working through the pandemic. If you remember, in July we published the first report: Teams Come First - New Business Models Later. Here comes part two...
The second study has crystallized some key questions for the way forward: How do you provide a sense of stability in an uncertain environment? How can you focus on Employee Motivation and Customer Value? And, how can you keep nurturing solid relationships in your ecosystem?
The results also show that people - and that’s employees as well as customers and business partners - are taking center stage. Still, many people indicate that they lack direction and vision.
Complete report: hive17.com/antifragilityreport2021
Now is a great moment to evolve and develop your teams and your business. How do these questions and topics resonate with you?
In the last post, I shared arguments to shift from command & control to guide & facilitate leadership. What does that actually mean? What are the new leadership routines? In the context of positive leadership, I am promoting two key activities for an effective leaders: establish a collective dream and actively let go.
Let me start with one question: as a leader, are you controlling your entire ship? And is that actually something you want to achieve? How can you ensure that all relevant information is coming to your desk? What are you levers to motivate your teams to follow your vision? What is the behavioural impact of taking central control? And, do you want to take this burden on yourself? This approach of running your organisation might lead to bottlenecks, people not performing to their potential, and slow-down of the organisation and the people. So, how can I engage in the two key activities and give control away?
The start is to create a collective dream (guide); a dream because we want to evoke passion; collective because the dream is created and lived by everyone in the organisation. One important result of this collective dream is that everyone is looking at lasting success, and this is based on a balance between delivering positive outcome and developing the organisation and the people to become better. Here some suggestions:
In one of my recent coaching engagements we talked about this collective dream in the context of a people initiative. While we discussed the objectives and the motivation around this initiative, it became apparent that the goals of the people responsible for the implementation where not aligned with the business intention. We identified a potential resistance and started to work on the alignment of the objectives.
Once this meaningful direction is established, the second activity is to actively let go (facilitate). With this we start to increase decision-making power at the front (where the information is). Here the qualities of curiosity, appreciation and learning are so important. As a leader, you start to appreciate the capabilities and progress people are making; you are curious to discover new approaches to solve problems, and you are experiencing that you can still learn a lot. Key activities in while letting go are:
Coming back to the coaching engagement above, we identified that the regional expert acted as a central node of expertise. This created bottlenecks and hindered learning across the regional group. We then established regular sessions where we facilitated conversations between the local experts that they can share their practices and ask for direct support from peers.
This example also shows that we are creating leaders on all levels. And in my experience, providing guidance via a collective dream is often well understood. Though, many leaders are still afraid to let go.
What hinders you to let go and give control to your people?
When is the last time that you have been frustrated that you have not reached your objectives? This might be a personal fitness objective, an ambitious result for your sport or a project deliverable at work. In my practice, I observe that most people are setting goals that seem to be unachievable. Which can lead to frustration and in the best case, lack of celebration. Is this in itself a bad thing?
Setting high ambitions are a great thing. They can induce passion and purpose we want to strive for. This collective dream brings the members of a team together, they create alignment and meaning. There is no doubt, ambitions and objectives are essential. And this collective dream makes us start the journey. Though, they are not good to sustain our motivation.
A true, deep motivation requires that we are disconnecting enjoyment from the actual achievement of the goal. This means, we appreciate the journey that leads towards our ambition. As a swimmer, I have the ambition to reach a certain result in an open water competition. Though, I enjoy the preparation and training that leads to achieving this result; this keeps me motivated. Similarly at work, while we set a specific goal to bring our operations to excellence, we appreciate what we are learning along the way. The goal is almost an excuse to create a journey of excellence.
In order to build this motivation, I suggest to keep reminding yourself about the feeling that is created by the activities (and micro-achievements) that lead towards your big picture goal. Make the journey worthwhile and valuable in itself. Then you might never lose momentum to reach your collective dream!
What are your new resolutions for 2021? The start of the new year is usually the opportunity to rethink our priorities, to trigger new behaviour, and to create a new, positive momentum for personal growth.
In the last few days, while asking people about their 2021 priorities, I heard a few times the same thing: "I need to see what my boss tells me". And to be honest, I was a bit shocked. Who is owning your priorities?
Here is what I think: work is part of our life; a considerable part of our life and our well-being and our achievements in our job is defining the success we feel in our entire life. Therefore, I think it is important to first understand what we want to achieve in our life overall. In 10, 20 years, what is the life we want to look back at? What are the fundamental values that define me as a person.
Based on this we can then see how our current work fit into our life ambition. How does our career contribute to the betterment of ourselves? In this sense, now at the start of the year, I suggest to start to think in two steps:
Start 2021 with a new resolution: take ownership and be proactive!
For many leaders it is obvious to focus on long-term benefits; for our shareholders, customers, for our employees and many other stakeholders. We will be able to survive, grow and we are focusing on sustainability and lasting success.
Still, this McKinsey study shows that the majority of executives feel under pressure to redirect resources from strategic initiatives in order to meet short-term financial goals. This is impacting the sustainability of the business. The company will reduce its readiness for the future and the motivation of the people are jeopardised. The article formulates five behaviours that brings back the leadership focus to long-term objectives.
1) Invest in risky, large-scale initiatives which help the company to navigate into a position of growth. These initiatives can be about digitalisation, product innovation, talent development, exploring new markets.
2) Design a portfolio of strategic initiatives that in its sum are delivering positive value. These initiatives focus on how to maximise the value creation with existing assets; this can be in the areas of operational excellence.
3) Continuously allocate resources and people to strategic revenue generators. This also means to regularly exit old businesses; this allows you to focus on growing forward.
4) Take a broad range of stakeholders into consideration (beyond shareholders). Generate meaningful value for customers, employees, business partners, the society and the environment. This will also secure stakeholder value.
5) Ensure that short-term gains are not jeopardising your long-term success. Navigate through a crisis that will make the company stronger.
How are you navigating around the temptation to focus on short-term financial goals?
Often, I get involved in discussions about how to motivate people; simply because I believe that in order to achieve excellence, we need people that are excited about what we want to achieve in our company. In this context, it is difficult to avoid the topic of financial targets. In my eyes, financial targets are a contributor to dissatisfaction when handled wrong. When handled right on the other hand, they don't motivate. Why is that?
Here, I want to share some of my thoughts about financial targets; and I am happy to hear your comments as well.
What are alternatives targets then? In a discussion with my friend Daniel Benes, he has suggested three key factors to focus on:
Which key performance indicators create success in your teams?
In an environment of uncertainty and complexity, anti-fragility will allow you to create lasting success. That's a nice sentence and many people agree to this. And then the big question comes: how do you get there? how do these puzzle pieces fall in place?
Two months ago, I posted my leadership view on the four pillars for agility: customer value, purpose, relationships and experimentation: How to reach agility? Four Key Drivers for Leaders. Today, I want to come back to these pillars and share how they fit together.
The underlying premise is that your company is acting in an uncertain and complex environment. Now, in this uncertainty, you want that decisions are made fast and bottlenecks are removed. This means, you need to empower the people at the front to experiment and try out what might work - and learn. You need to increase their autonomy to allow your teams to run forward with high velocity.
Now, many people argue that this will only lead to chaos. Yes, and while we allow our teams to run forward, we need to ensure that they are moving fast in the same direction. The organisation requires an aligned and transparent understanding of the big picture purpose. Important, this is not a top down vision. I like to call it the collective dream which is evolving with everyone participating.
What is the key ingredient to this collective dream? Our customers decide if we are successful. That means, we need to create value for them. The company purpose and the different team purposes are highly influenced by how we are creating value to our customers. And this is based on a deep understanding of their needs and challenges.
The fourth pillar is about creating a platform that allows the teams to run forward in the right direction. This platform facilitates cross-silo collaboration which allows quick sharing of information and further eliminates barriers to speed and fuels creativity. Smooth collaboration is based on common goals and good relationships.
As a leader that drives anti-fragility, your role boils down to two things: bring the people together to define a meaningful and customer-focussed purpose. With this established, the second role is removing bottlenecks, providing resources and further driving motivation. Sounds easy and yes, it takes a lot of efforts to become this agent of success.
The other day, a financial adviser shared with me that there will be a market correction coming soon and I should put my planned investments on hold. I was contemplating on this... What happens if many people believe in this correction and act accordingly? The spiral will go down. And, what will this mean for the companies I planned to invest in? They might lose funds and their growth will slow. Is this what I am believing in?
As a leader, I think we have a choice. We can follow the advice, maybe get richer ourselves and then what? Or, we can stick to our long-term investment strategy, support the organisations we are passionate about and reach our long-term growth targets; not just financially.
So, what does that mean for leaders? What can we achieve with financial targets? How is this creating engagement with your teams? Can these monetary targets be meaningful? Aren't these objectives leading to more selfishness?
As an alternative, we leaders can follow our passion and activate excitement among our team members. This will stimulate motivation and will lead to value creation for our customers. We can develop a greater and collective feeling of purpose. This collective dream will strengthen the collaboration in our team and across the wider ecosystem.
When you sit down with your team and define your goals, try to go beyond these dollar figures. Think about the results you want to achieve for your customers and with your business partners. In addition, specify the work environment you as a team want to cultivate. These are objectives that will bring meaning, excitement and passion to your team.
How are you leading beyond financial targets?
Challenging times are dragging us down. We see that among our friends at work, and we observe that about ourselves. We feel frustrated, overwhelmed, angry and this feeling lingers and gets stronger. Why is that? This downward spiral is often related to negative self-talk. But, how can we prevent this?
Andy Puddicombe says that you have a choice. Either you choose to succumb to your challenging emotions and make them worse with your own thoughts. Or, you can choose to observe them, to live with the challenges around you and let them go.
What does that mean in your daily life? The idea is to start to feel in balance and get at ease with the many challenges and opportunities in life. Focus on what is real and the things you can influence now. And, accept the things you can't. Then, you can slowly view the positive impact of the challenges and try to turn them into opportunities. Judgement of others and of yourself will peel away and you have the brainspace to focus on the actions to succeed.
As a leader, you can be patience with your team members, recognise when they (and yourself) have a bad day - that's part of life. In addition, define (collectively) meaningful goals that provide the big picture; this allows to turn current challenges into a stepping stones for a successful future. Don't fret when your team members do mistakes; they are part of the learning journey. The same way as they were on yours.
And what is in it for the company? Happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy ones. And this also stimulates creativity as well - so important for innovation.
There is no magic how to master uncertain times - be innovative, be creative, think out-of-the box! Why is it so hard for many companies to thrive?
This article - How to rebuild a business after the coronavirus lockdown, WIRED UK - shows interesting cases of startups in the UK that managed to turn around and be successful despite the storm hitting the business world.
“Go back to basics,” Hannah Martin says. “Who are your ideal customers, what problem do you solve for them, how has that changed, can you adapt? Approach people, don't wait for them to update you. Look at what others are doing, in and outside your industry, see if you can get ideas.”
Many corporations are stuck in their view of the world, decision makers are too far away from reality, motivation structures are based on lagging indicators, experimentation is discouraged, silos are preventing velocity. Today's leaders need to get out of this cycle to create lasting success.
How do you bring your vision into action?
This sounds weird, right? If we fully focus on performance, our performance will go down? How is that possible? And what can we do to improve performance in a sustainable way?
A while back I learned about this formula that your performance is equal to your potential minus your interferences. While I wanted to learn more about this a stumbled across this article written by Tim Gallwey about the Inner Game and its impact on capability building. One passage brilliantly explains the above paradox:
"For example, my need to finish an article by the requested deadline obscures the reasons I chose to write the article in the first place, and dampens the natural enjoyment of expressing my thoughts and convictions. The person caught up in performance momentum neglects learning, growth, and the inherent quality of the work experience."
Let's look what we are doing at work. At first, yes, we are producing products and services; a key aim is to produce outcome of our work. At the same time, we are also engaged in two other things. We are building teams, cultivate relationships, providing a safe environment for our people - this is what Tim Gallwey calls 'experience'. In addition, we need to grow in our skills and as personalities during our career - this is what Tim Gallwey calls 'learning'. As a summary and taking the example of sales, we need to provide a trusted environment with our customers and we need to engage with them to learn what they need. Only then, we might be able to sell our products to the customers.
This week, I was coaching a team to develop their objectives and key results and based on the discussions we had, the team then added two objectives related to cultivating better relationships and engaging in more learning. They are very engaged now with their objectives.
What does that mean as a leader? Do I stop pushing for results? The way I see it, a leader's responsibility is to provide a safe and challenging environment. This will create a condition in which people can grow their capabilities, become more creative, take more ownership, enjoy more and become better team players.
In my work, quite often I see myself as the person that is providing the space to reflect. Which is important to become more excellent.
The Inner Game of Work: Building Capability in the Workplace.
Two years back, I read the story of Ilkka Paananen in Wired UK (link); still today it is an inspirational story on how to lead with motivation. After a failed endeavour, he started Supercell and within 6 years the company was valued over 10 billion US dollars. How did he do that?
In simple terms, he put the right team together and then created the best environment for the team to thrive. What is that best environment? Turn the organisational structure upside down and empower them to define everything that relates to the success of the company: the vision, how they work, where to put the focus... Full autonomy? Yes, provide the team with all the freedom and automatically they will also take over the responsibility, the ownership for the results. The success lies in motivation, the energy and the passion that you can observe in your teams.
So, what do I need to do as a leader? Create that environment! Create excitement, allow them to discover how to do things, hire a diverse team, be a coach, be passionate about the company - and be transparent.
What makes you a great leader?
Image Credit, Nick Wilson, WIRED UK
The current times create a lot of disruption and uncertainty. Many try to stick to old recipes and the old normal. Still, we know we are heading into a new normal, we are in the need to find new ways to be effective, profitable and valuable. This part of the journey can be daunting and paralysing. What can we do?
In situation of conflict, confusion, disorientation I always try to review the original objectives. What did we set out to achieve at the beginning? Often this purpose brings us back to the right direction and. Today can be an excellent time to review and reflect on the Collective Dream of our organisation. What was our vision at the start of your endeavour? What are our values? What do we as a team, as individuals stand for?
Why is this important in situations of uncertainty? Isn't it better pushing hard and running forward? Here are my thoughts around this:
This Harvard Business Review article confirmed my thoughts around this topic. We might want to rush and run forward, though we might only run in the wrong direction and waste a lot of energy. Allowing yourself a pause, reflect on your purpose and then accelerate in the right direction will give you confidence to create value for the people around you.
When will you invest in reflecting your collective dream?
A regional business unit had introduced a new strategy that set ambitious targets in various market segments. The leadership team launched many conversations with their teams in order to understand the new strategy. The functional heads (i.e. marketing, sales, R&D) encouraged their teams to discuss and define the path forward - with mixed results. Hive17 Consulting understood that the team members didn't yet feel empowered to act on this freedom; at the same time, the leadership team struggled to provide that autonomy.
Together, we planned a new workshop that build on the previous intervention. The new one-day event aimed at providing a structure that provided a safe environment to be creative and establish alignment between the functional heads and their team members. This workshop was based on the method of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).
First, we split the group of about 45 managers from all functions into different 'virtual' teams. Each of these market segment teams had members from all key functions: marketing, sales, R&D, manufacturing and supply chain. Each team selected one of the functional head as a sponsor of their team. We did not introduce new reporting lines and the sponsors had the responsibility to give guidance and provide the strategic direction.
The teams then went through an exercise to define the objectives and key results for their market segment - jointly within the cross-functional team. At certain points in the journey, the sponsors joined their teams and they reviewed what the teams established. These OKRs were then used to provide the teams direction on where to focus their efforts. And they created transparency with the leadership team on the status of their activities.
This workshop allowed two things: the cross-functional teams were empowered and given the space to translate the strategy into tangible operational activities by themselves. And the functional leads had the opportunity to provide their feedback without interfering the thought process at an early stage, applying a coaching leadership style.
The regional leadership team was surprised with the results. The dialogue between them and the team members was constructive and they felt as part of the team. The autonomy of defining their own objectives created a strong team cohesion and engagement with these objectives. The teams were inspired and had a great motivation to push ahead with the new strategic focus in their daily work.
"If we keep doing the same thing, we keep getting the same results. In order to grow, we all need to start doing things differently!" - Regional Technical Director.
One of my core beliefs is Positive Leadership; I am supporting leaders to adopt a human-centric approach to drive operational excellence. And our recent study showed, that human-centric traits are accelerating innovation: Sustainable Innovation Requires a Solid Foundation.
Some leaders respond to me that they agree to this belief and at the same time fear that they are seen to be weak. Leaders are supposed to be strong, able to command people and need to make "tough decisions" - right? In today's world, uncertainty is accelerating and we can not rely on historic recipes; traditional leadership styles will not deliver fast and sustainable success. Based on a neuroscientific understanding, these leaders will prohibit creativity, stifle motivation and drain energy.
A human-centric personality trait is a strength for today's leaders. Empatic leaders will be able to give energy to people, they will be able instil intrinsic motivation. Giving teams a clear and meaningful direction is vital for long-lasting success. Removing the barriers to creativity and agility will lead to fast results. Be bold, follow your heart and mind, and avoid falling into old patterns.
Thank you Emmanuel, for our conversation that led to this insight.
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.