Lead the Way

Leadership is the act of intentional influence. You set the example, you develop a vision others can strive toward. Leaders provide critical feedback, promoting values, sharing progress toward achieving goals, engaging others and leveraging their strengths. Leaders display vulnerability, trust, accountability and clearly communicate when dealing with people.

Pain Points

  • The current approach to managing the teams does not get desired results
  • There’s no innovation. Your team responds to requests but never brings new ideas or approaches forward
  • In meetings you do the majority of the talking. Unless you ask a direct question or schedule someone else to speak, everyone stays silent
  • When things don’t go as planned, you always have to intervene and make decisions on even relatively simple matters
  • Consensus on decisions is easy as the team never challenges your ideas

Benefits

  • Teams mirror and emulate the actions of the leader. By your example, the team will instill the behaviors you model
  • You take ownership for setbacks, and the team feels comfortable and open to sharing their knowledge to solve problems
  • By showing you care about the members of your team, trust enables more candid conversations and engagement

Assessment

  • Leaders lead by example, take accountability and show they care about both the organization and the team (100pts)
  • Individuals are engaged, participating, actively commenting and providing input (20pts)
  • The leader makes every decision for the group (-20pt)
  • Individuals don’t feel comfortable sharing ideas or debating the merits of a proposal (-20pts)
  • Leader creates a fear and blaming culture within the workplace (-100pts)

Application

✓ Critical ❑ Helpful ❑ Experimental

Adoption Experiment

Based on the Loops, not Lines seed, you will repeat this adoption experiment many times during your leadership journey. At its core, you will do some homework (reading) followed by putting something that resonates with you into practice.

Setup

  1. Pick a book from the list below and read the book in it’s entirety before proceeding
  2. Proceed to the trial but also, in parallel, begin reading another book in its entirety from the list

Reading List

Trial

  1. Once you have read a book completely, pick one thing that was mentioned in the book.
  2. When you have something in mind, use AnswersFromExperiments and give it a try on a small scale within your organization.
  3. Begin reading a new book from the reading list

Evaluate Feedback

  1. Monitor the progress and see if you can get benefit from the practice with. If it doesn’t seem to be getting a desired result, what can you adjust in your intentional experiment that might help?
  2. Return to the Trial section in the Adoption Experiment and begin a new loop starting with instruction number 1.

What Does it Look like?

Leaders are engaged, connected with the customers and the team, and understand the people whose efforts they lead. It requires you to be out front, leading the way. This means:

  • You constantly model behaviors you want from your team
  • You provide clear expectations for success
  • You define what your vision looks like and means
  • You actively participate in problem solving and helping teams succeed when needed (this is not a license to micro-manage, however)
  • You take responsibility when you realize you weren’t clear on expectations or a team delivers something that didn’t meet expectations. Then, immediately engage with the team to look for ways to improve future performance
  • You see your team engaged, and providing valuable insights into the process and outcomes you work toward

In his published research 1

Albert Banduras’s observations support the hypothesis that we model the behavior of others. Based upon his research, we can safely deduce our teams will mirror or mimic our behavior. If we arrive late and leave early, team members will follow that lead. If we don’t seem to care about certain things, team members will likely not worry about those issues either. We must model the behaviors we want teams to do.

There are some critical behaviors to avoid at all costs. Part of leading the way is certainly leading from the front.2

We can’t avoid setting expectations and then become highly critical of the outcome. That behavior more resembles critics with no skin in the game and must be avoided as it is a serious failure on the part of a leader. Some examples of this behavior include:

  • Not providing direction or setting expectations, but being quick to offer criticism on work
  • With little to no involvement in the planning, expectation setting, or execution of a project, taking credit for the work of your team
  • Passing the blame to others when something doesn’t go as planned
  • Treating people like fungible resources rather than, well, people

These behaviors undermine your credibility and hamper your ability to intentionally influence others. People tend to retreat when attacked and “put up walls and armor” to defend themselves from the attack. It shuts down their ability to work at their best, to innovate, to solve difficult problems and instead keeps them focused on their own self protection.

Avoid this outcome at all costs.

Leading requires courage. Courage to:

  • Set good expectations
  • Model the behavior yourself you expect from the team
  • Spend the required time to create a vision or picture of long term success, and confirm that team members understand it
  • Show team members how their work makes a difference toward that goal
  • Engage in tough or difficult areas and decisions (with respect for all involved) regardless of the fear/potential for conflict associated with the situation
  • Reward the accomplishments of your team and individual accomplishments
  • Take ownership of setbacks and failures and leading your team out of those situations

Your influence and ability to succeed is greatly enhanced when you take the time to get to know your team, let them know they are important to you and your organization, and that their needs and interests are considered and important. When you take the time to engage and care about your team members, trust starts to form. From this place, team members know you care about their interests and needs. You can engage in meaningful conversations, address difficult conversations and work to improve capabilities with little fear of your attempts being mistaken as cynical or disrespectful.

Warning Signs

  • People on your team lack motivation
  • You are the only person talking in meetings
  • Team members wait for orders, feel they have no agency
  • Team members never seem to offer product, service or improvement ideas

How To Fail Spectacularly

  • Ignore this practice
  • Blame people around you when things don’t go as planned
  • Spend your time telling people what to do
  • Fail to read any of the books listed in the adoption experiment
  • Foster the idea and believe that you don’t need to worry about how you engage your team as you are the appointed leader and what they think doesn’t matter, only what you say
  • Treat people as resources and ignore their need to belong, to have purpose or to accomplish something meaningful

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