KARIN ZASTROW

blogging about DIRECT LEADERSHIP

Posts Tagged ‘leadership opportunity

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 )

A kick-ass leadership opportunity

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Where I live in Scandinavia, this is one of the two times each year, when it feels like we are all making a fresh start. The other occasion is New Year’s. Right now, the summer season is coming to an end. Not only did the children start school this morning. We, their parents and colleagues of their parents are resigning ourselves to putting the sunny days out of our minds and getting our heads wrapped more intensely around whatever work it is that we do for a living.

If you are a leader somewhere in the world, and the conditions are similar to the above, it is a perfect time to make some changes to your interaction with your staff. In fact, what better time can you conceive of?

You are not the only person who has had time to clear your head by a break from the daily routines. So has your staff.

In the past, I was inclined to think that this feeling of ”making a fresh start” was just that, i.e. a feeling. A kind of transient illusion, but not a reality.

However, this summer a friend inspired me to take a look at Carl Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, and from doing so I realised that by taking a break from the hamster wheel, we actually create conditions for better, more centred listening, thinking and sensing. We move in the direction of what he calls “presencing”. Presencing means to put ourselves as individuals or collectively as groups in a state of mind from where we are capable of relating to the now and to the emerging future instead of taking our action cues from the past.

I call that a kick-ass leadership opportunity, which calls for immediate action!

• Call a staff meeting as early as this week.
• Don’t worry if a few people can’t be there as long as the large majority is there.
• Start by welcoming everybody.
• Go round the table and let everyone say very briefly how their summer has been. (Be sensitive to the fact that lots of things may have happened, so if someone has experienced some hardship, ask if this is something he or she wants to say more about. If so, give it some space). Maybe you also want to thank them all or certain individuals for holding the fort while resources were scarce.
• Then tell them that the reason for this meeting is to look ahead from now and until New Year’s (or Thanksgiving, or next summer – you decide) with fresh eyes.
• Ask for people’s thoughts on where you as a company/division/department/team are heading and what you may want to do, create or change in order to get there. (If the group is large, you may want to start the discussion in small groups and then hear from each group).
• Take notes or have someone do so.
• See what happens.
• Gently challenge them if they suggest habitual measures, make sure that the focus stays on what needs to be done in relation to the emerging future.
• Wrap up the meeting with the relevant decisions.
o Anything, the parties involved should simply go ahead and implement?
o Something that needs to be discussed or further analysed?
o Something you yourself want to look more into?
• Close the meeting with agreeing one the decisions and when to follow-up.
• Say thank you for their enthusiasm/attention/openness?

And now – especially if you are a Direct Leadership student – count your blessings! Look at your notes, compare them to the seven roles, and notice how you have actively put yourself in a position to catch a collection of leadership opportunities. At the same time as you have started to teach your organisation that tomorrow’s solutions are not found by blindly “extending the past”.

Written by Karin Zastrow

August 15, 2011 at 16:39

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