KARIN ZASTROW

blogging about DIRECT LEADERSHIP

Posts Tagged ‘leadership deliverables

Leadership Deliverables and How to Cook an Omelet

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Yesterday I gave a webinar organized by Quidam Global in Mexico.

The topic was the correlation between the practice of Direct Leadership™ and Employee Performance. The webinar was my first occasion to speak about how the deliverables defined in my model of day-to-day leadership will directly translate into what we desire to achieve among our employees.

Afterwards I thought about how to best describe the difference between deliverables and the more commonly addressed topics of culture, competencies or personalities.

I believe the answer is to take our eyes away from the infinite variety of competencies, cultural differences, personalities that makes every workplace and every team a unique place. Instead, we need to get up into the helicopter, rise above the trees of the forest and look at the bigger picture.

Only when we do so can we see the deliverables as the manifestation of all those other ingredients.

In a way you could compare it to cooking an omelet.

To make let’s say a mushroom omelet, you need eggs, milk, butter, salt, pepper and mushrooms. However, neither looking at the separate ingredients, nor tasting each of them will give you the same experience as tasting the end result.

Eggs, milk, butter, salt, pepper and mushrooms are comparable to cultures, competencies, and personalities. The finished omelet is the deliverable.

Let me be clear, I do not suggest ignoring culture, competencies and personalities.

However, I do urge you to understand that these are only means to produce the deliverables. Exactly like eggs, milk, butter and mushrooms are essential to produce a mushroom omelet, but not equal to an omelet.

The Direct Leadership™ Model describes and allows you to measure those very deliverables when it comes to day-to-day leadership.

Don’t mention the War!

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At first I thought I had not heard him, but when he repeated, I realised my mind had simply not been able to grasp what he said.

It was just a few weeks ago, so the year was 2012 and not 1952. I was on a plane back from the wedding party of some friends living abroad, and the man next to me and I had struck up a conversation, first over the books we each were reading, then over what kind of work we were each doing.

And as it so often happens when I say that my business is ”everyday leadership” the conversation turned to how my co-traveller experienced leadership at the state-owned research institution where he was working.

And then he told me. ”At our organisation, we recently had this employee satisfaction survey. But it was made quite clear that if we were critical when replying to the questions about our leaders, our replies would only be taken into consideration if we abandoned the anonymity that applied for the rest of the survey.” And he continued: ” To me this tells that leaders are not appointed according to their competencies, but because they are friends of the existing leaders.”

That was when the words of the headline (made immortal by John Cleese in the BBC sitcom Faulty Towers) came to my mind.

We want to measure employee satisfaction – but do not mention your leaders for anything but their virtues!

As I said, at first I could not believe that I actually heard this.
Second thought: ”they must not have any professionals involved”, so I checked if I were right.
But the reply was: ”Oh definitely, a well-known consulting company specialised in employee satisfaction was involved!”

I rest my case…

 

(oh, to see that particular episode of Fawlty Towers, click here http://www.youtube.com/BBCComedyGreats )

Do you know what JOIK is?

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There are leadership lessons to learn everywhere.

The joik is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sami people in Sápmi (the Sami people’s nation). Each joik is meant to reflect a person or place. This does not mean that it is a song about the person or place, but that the joiker is attempting to transfer “the essence” of that person or place into song – one joiks their friend, not about their friend. If you want to listen to a joik, click here.

Last night I went to a joik-workshop with my friend, the Norwegian/Sami singer and teacher Biret Alette Mienna. It was not my first, but I realized that it was a while ago and that this was a powerful reminder of what human relationships is about: being present enough to sense the essence of what is going on and expressing precisely that.

When we interact as leaders with our staff, we do not express ourselves by singing.

However, the first thing to do when we have noticed a leadership opportunity must be to listen well and seek to understand what is essential in it. We must listen to the people involved and understand theier thoughts and intentions. And we must listen to ourselves well enough to know what we think and feel, so that we can choose the action which is authentic. Sometimes this authenticity may be overshadowed by thoughts about what we believe, we should do.  Don’t let it.

Biret Alette told us a story about her grand-daughter. When she was reading children’s books to her, the child would ask her to joik the birds or animals that were pictured in the book.  When the joik was done with the nerve that belonged to the particular bird or animal, the child would listen intently. However, when the joiking was done distractedly, the child quickly turned to the next page of the book.  

Your employees are not likely to be as explicit, but without listening you will lose their attention.

What do you do to practise your ability to be truly present and authentic in your everyday leadership?

How many everyday leadership opportunities did you catch (or miss) since January 1st?

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As a leader, you must seize the leadership opportunities and act upon them.

You do so by making yourself aware of the primary leadership deliverables, so that your internal radar will notice when some piece of information or interaction among your staff requires your attention as particularly good, in need of your encouragement or course-correction.

You must not necessarily catch and take action on every leadership opportunity the very second it occurs.

However, an opportunity not caught is lost, and if you remain unconscious about the tens and hundreds of leadership opportunities, which you will encounter during a normal week or month – then you are losing not only those specific opportunities to contribute to your staff’s performance. You will be on the way to lose your leadership altogether. If you never or too rarely notice and intervene with direction, support or course-corrections, your staff will stop counting on you for leadership and only call for your assistance when all else has failed.

So take a moment, right now. Look back to when you came back after the New Year’s holidays and take stock: how many times have you already noticed some interaction, wondered if the people involved were on the right track? And how many times did you intervene?

None?

One?

2-4?

5-9?

10 or more?

Now, please write a note to yourself or share a comment on this blog about it.

You may also participate in the LinkedIn poll on the subject: http://linkd.in/f35EuH

By spending the minute, I suggest, you may course-correct yourself and set out to make 2011 the year, when your everyday leadership becomes conscious and visible.

Conscious effort is always the first step toward mastery – and awareness is the first step toward conscious effort!

My wish for 2011 is that all the men and women who have taken up the challenge of being exceptional everyday leaders will get the recognition they deserve!

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