No-one could have predicted the situation we’re currently in, and it’s probably evoking lots of uncomfortable feelings – I know it is for me. I’ve also heard some wonderful stories of how people are supporting and taking care of each other, whether that’s at work or at home.
Being a leader is complex, especially at a time like this. How can you show vulnerability and make it psychologically safe for people to speak up, yet also show confidence and strength so those same people can rely on you to provide a safe harbour?
One could argue this is simply good leadership, albeit magnified at the moment! So, this article comprises some thoughts for you to consider around how to support your team during this time.
Building on my previous two articles about what makes a great CEO (remember, the insights apply to all of us), this month’s newsletter takes a key skill – good judgement – and examines it in more detail. Some of the insights are based on interviews with CEOs in many different companies conducted by Sir Andrew Likierman, a professor at London Business School, and detailed recently in the Harvard Business Review. I’ve added my own perspective based on my experience of coaching individuals and leadership teams over the years.
In part 1 of this article, I wrote about the first three elements of excellent CEOs identified by McKinsey. This month, you can discover the other three. As before, I believe many of these insights apply to leaders, not just CEOs.
This month’s article was inspired by some research by McKinsey called: “The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs“. I’ve added my own advice to help you kickstart your 2020; even though the research focuses on CEOs, much of the insight can apply to other leaders and professionals too. I hope it gets you thinking about how you might like to refresh your mindset and practices.
McKinsey looked at the six main elements of the job:
- Setting the strategy
- Aligning the organisation
- Leading the top team
- Working with the board
- Being the face of the company to external stakeholders
- Managing your own time and energy
They summarise this with the diagram below, with the optimal mindset and practices for each element of the role. So, for example, setting the corporate strategy is best done with a mindset of “Focus on beating the odds”, with three practices to complement this around Vision, Strategy and Resource Allocation.
We look at the first three of these below; I’ve picked out the elements I believe will be of most value, and help you set the spark into a new decade at work. Next month, we’ll consider the other three.
Everything you do sets/affects the tone for your team(s) and colleagues. So, if you are in a rut about the way you do your job, read on!
As you may know, one of the most popular TED talks of all time is by Brené Brown about vulnerability.
Her latest book, Dare to Lead, was published in 2018 and builds on much of her research on vulnerability – she expands on this theme and describes what it looks like in a leadership context. I found it packed with rich content and lots of checklists, (although you’ll need to create your own checklist for all the checklists :-)), so it’s worth getting if you want to dig a little deeper. Meanwhile, it inspired the ideas in this article which I hope you find useful.
In today’s society, we no longer live in big family groups. When family and friends live far away, the people we would usually turn to are not easily available. Instead, workmates can be a big source of support. However, death is a topic we don’t often talk about at work.
When someone has lost a loved one, their colleagues can feel uncomfortable, and it can be hard to know what to do or say. As a result, they may keep quiet about it.
This article gives you some ideas about how you can support a grieving colleague, whether you’re their line manager or a concerned workmate.
If you have suffered a loss and had support that you found particularly helpful, I’d love to hear from you. I will collate any responses and write an update to this article so we can learn from you (I will assume you wish to be anonymous unless you tell me otherwise). Thank you!
“Even the darkest nights will end and the sun will rise.”
Our lives are so busy these days that it can be hard to find quiet time to rest, reflect and plan. In fact, being busy is praised rather than considered to be a problem. Many of us suffer from ‘busy mind syndrome’, where we get stressed and caught up in our thinking. As a result, we can’t easily make a decision about the best way forward. All this has a negative effect on our mental health.
Rather than giving you practical tips that are even more things to add to your ‘to do’ list, this article talks about a different way of being. It describes a philosophy of life that involves thinking less, so you can be more.
As you read it, concentrate on feeling how you respond. In a way, it’s about heart, not head. In line with the philosophy itself, you don’t need to think about it for hours and days and weeks and months afterwards. But – if the content soaks in and resonates with you – you might find this approach instantly or eventually reframes how you approach life and work events, and so reduces your stress and increases your mental health.
Shelle Rose Charvet has recently updated her bestselling book about the language of influence, Words that Change Minds. It is based on research across more than 30 countries since the mid-1990s, and was recently picked by Forbes as one of their best management books for entrepreneurs and executives.
The book helps you understand where people focus their attention by listening to the patterns of language they use. You can then adapt your own language accordingly, to collaborate and/or lead, and get the results that work for everyone.
To get people to go somewhere with you, you have to meet them where they are… Go to their bus-stop, and from their bus-stop, invite them to let the bus take them where you want them to be.
This article explores some of the concepts that might be useful when you are:
- Trying to motivate and influence people
- Considering who to have on your team, and the optimal mix of approach/style
- Developing your team members
- Leading your team, and embracing the strengths, diversity and needs of each individual to achieve great outcomes
- Deciding how best to allocate work between people
- Determining the best way to manage change
The world is changing fast and our lives are much more complex than they used to be. People in senior roles are making decisions about things that haven’t happened before, and without the comfort of having all the facts. Because of Artificial Intelligence, jobs are being created that don’t exist today, and today’s jobs won’t exist tomorrow.
In a VUCA* world like this, the only way to be is more human – to bring all of who you are to work, and let go of your fears.
I’ve recently completed certification training on an inside-out tool that helps leaders and teams to do just this. Building on a model by Kegan on the stages of adult development, the Leadership Circle Profile (LCP) looks at what an effective agile leader embodies. Some of my clients are already using this tool as the basis of their leadership and cultural transformation to evolve to a new way of being in this VUCA world.
This article gives you food for thought to help you develop a deeper understanding of these principles. It is linked to my previous two articles: Agile Organisations, and Agile teams and completes the trio to help you develop and thrive.
*VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The term was first used in 1987 by the US Army War College, drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus after the Cold War. An article in Harvard Business Review paraphrased it as: “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”
Agility is a key theme in business at the moment. Last month, I wrote about How (and why) to be an agile organisation. This time, we look at the components of an effective agile team, and the role of the leader in enabling agile teams.
Agile teams come together to work on something special, and stay together for a reasonable period of time. They might go on to work on another problem, or develop the idea they’ve come up with. Don’t confuse this with scrum teams. As I explained in my recent article How to get a scrum team up and running, these get in, do the work and disband, so they only stay together for a short time.