TAKE A JOURNEY ON “THE LEADER SHIP”

How do we get there from here? We encounter that question a lot at Voltage Leadership with regard to leaders of all types. This is especially true for front line leaders who have been promoted into areas of great responsibility.

Our answer is for them to take a journey on “The Leader Ship”, pun intended. Below please find some tips and tools we employ with clients of all sizes in multiple industries to keep them on course.                                                                       

  • Pre-Boarding – Use assessments to help understand the leader’s behavior, motivations and aptitudes. At Voltage, we employ many assessment tools. Two of our favorites are DiSC, and Profiles XT depending on how deep a dive may be required for the role.
  • Charting the Course – The ability to “see the big picture” is essential for most leadership roles. We employ several tools that can be applied to any team at any level. Two of our favorites are:  1) the “Team Charter” which asks, why are we here, where are we going and what are the behaviors that will get us there and 2) the “Structural Tension” model which asks What are the desired outcomes? What is the current reality? How can we use our assets/strengths to overcome barriers? What baby steps can we take to get closer to the desired outcomes?
  • Navigating – Once the right course is set, continue to actively steer the ship, by continually communicating the course to the crew. Make the right course corrections at the right time, based on firsthand knowledge from the crew obtained in well planned recurring 1:1 meetings Behind the Leader’s Closed Door.
  • Avoiding Icebergs – At Voltage we help client firms goBelow the Waterlineto ensure they fully understand and accept ownership of clarity regarding roles, responsibilities and expectations. If there is “noise” from the crew, understand why it is there. They may be right and helping to keep your ship afloat.
  • Sounding the Ship – Proactively engage in Team building. Be aware of potential counterproductive cultural issues, ie. removing drama, perceptions of favoritism or downright intentional negativism. Voltage can show you how to escape theDreaded Drama Triangle aka the Cultural Bermuda Triangle.
  • All Hands-On Deck – Intentionally spend more crew time with “rising stars” vs “falling stars”. Design your time to include recurring meaningful recognition to build real crew engagement. Actively invest time in crew who are helping to drive the ship (vs those who may need to walk the plank for the right reasons.)
  • Enjoy the Ride - Once Pre-Boarding is done, our Course is Charted, Navigating well, have Avoided Icebergs, the Ship is Sound, and All Hands on Deck are really engaged, Enjoy the Ride…Ahoy maties!
     

THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

Change is both a constant and a challenging part of our professional lives. Leading change and managing change are different skills, and learning to navigate both processes successfully is essential to long term leadership success.

I capture the difference between leading change and managing change in this way:  It’s all in the direction of your gaze.

Leading change requires a leader to look up and out in the direction one wants to travel and to describe how to get there. 

Managing change requires the manager to look across the organization and down into their area of influence, and adequately describe and oversee the work that needs to be executed.

There is more to it, of course. But asking, “Which direction are you looking?” will offer a fairly good insight into whether you are engaged in leading change or managing it.

To effectively navigate from Here to There a leader must look in both directions.

Knowing which one captures your attention and imagination at this point in your career is an important insight that can help ensure that you are both doing the work you love and serving the organization well.

Do you notice the details? Do you easily see the relationships between tasks, teams, people and projects? Are you the consummate planner and implementer? This is the management and execution side of the street.

Alternatively, do you have a talent for seeing opportunities where none exist today? Do you imagine new ways to solve problems? Have a talent for seeing a different future reality than the one that exists today? If so, then you likely thrive in the leadership lane, leading the conception of project and building the strategy upon which a team will succeed.                                   

Discovering which kind of leader you are wired to be at this point in your career can be undertaken by simply noticing which of these two lanes captures your attention.

Then you have to discipline yourself to do what was asked of you as a kid: look both ways before you cross the street!

Organizational success depends on the ability to execute on a great vision.

So, leaders, are you looking both ways as you cross the intersection with your organization? When you do, you can ensure you will get from Here to There successfully.

Tune in to hear Jennifer and Jeff, Voltage Leadership’s CEO, take a deeper dive on this topic on this episode of their radio show Illuminating Leadership.

SAY WHAT? QUOTES TO PONDER AS YOU GROW YOUR LEADERSHIP VOICE

We are all trying to grow ourselves, our leadership voice and our ability to influence others. The following quotes are great words to ponder and incorporate into your leadership toolkit.                                              

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” –Norman Schwarzkopf  
"Confidence is contagious; so is a lack of confidence." -Vince Lombardi
“It's about doing things that you haven't done before, where you're still kind of a beginner, and not resting on your laurels.” -Caterina Fake, co-founder, Flickrz
"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed to fail if you don’t try." –Beverly Sills
"You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” -Mick Jagger
"It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings." -Ann Landers
"I would rather die of passion than of boredom." –Vincent van Gogh
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it."  –American Proverb
"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." –Albert Einstein
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." –Booker T. Washington
"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." –Joshua J. Marine
"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." –Les Brown
"When we understand that what we do is not who we are, we then become what we do." –Lee Hubert  

 * Quotes courtesy of the Lynchburg News-Advance

Thanks for reviewing the quotes. Now, the challenge for you is to determine how these quotes will influence your leadership style. I look forward to hearing how you applied the quotes and what you are doing differently. I wish you continued success and let us know about your achievements!


 

GIVE BACK TIME – ALLA BREVE!

I was recently facilitating a strategic offsite for a symphony orchestra in Virginia. It was a fascinating experience as I am a big classical music fan. One of the musicians put forward a musical phrase as a marketing concept that “cut to the chase” for those who want to experience the music, but may not want to spend all night doing so.

That concept was Alla Breve.

Alla Breve is Italian music speak for “cut the playing time” or play faster. I think there is some wisdom here to share as we are often faced with the reality of “doing less”, ie cutting the time or “doing more” ie playing faster.

This likely impacts our professional and personal lives.

1)      Are we habitually “out of time” running from one meeting to another?

2)      Is there an on-going sense of frustration that that the task doesn’t fit the time?

3)      How can we shorten the time needed to do what we need to do?

4)      Do we know our “time signatures” and how to change them?

5)      Are we playing solo even though we are part of a larger group?

6)      When orchestrating plans are we being realistic?

7)      When was the last time we intentionally gave back time to somebody else?

8)      When was the last time we actually had time “given back”?

How to apply Alla Breve to the questions above goes a long way to determining if the sounds we fill the air with are sweet, melodic and harmonious or off pitch and in the wrong key.

Alla Breve starts by being mindful of our default time signatures both at home and at work. At Voltage Leadership, we utilize several assessment tools that help people understand their default personalities, motivational factors and cognitive capabilities. This helps illuminate if somebody is playing staccato (disjointed, disconnected) instead of legato (smooth, flowing.) Knowing when to “go hard” ie Allegro vs “when to play more slowly” ie Adagio can make all the difference in the tonal quality of our lives!

A few ideas:

·     Try cutting a one hour meeting to 45 minutes.

·     If the agenda is too long, then do 2-3 items and agree to emailing each other for the rest.

·     Question if you really need to meet weekly for your next project.

·     Review your priorities and meetings for the next week on Friday. Do you still need to attend all the meetings? Who could go in your place? Now, how will you invest your new found time?

So, the next time we are asked to sit through Handel’s Messiah, when we really only need Chopin’s two-minute Waltz, think “Alla Breve” and use the time redeemed to make beautiful music elsewhere!

For further discussion on this concept of Alla Breve in our work lives, listen to this episode of our VoltCast radio show, Illuminating Leadership.
 

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR CIRCLES

I have been coaching a lot of people recently who are pretty stressed out and running on fumes. Does this sound like you? If not, please keep up the good work and share your secrets with the rest of us. However, I have a feeling a lot of you are like a client I have been working with recently. She was worried about her daughter getting into college, the project that was off track at work, the relatively new boss who she had a hard time reading and getting aligned with, the future of healthcare, planning vacation, eating healthy, finding time for meditation, oops, need a birthday present, oh no-another project just assigned to her, and other things that pop up throughout the day.

Does this sound similar to your day? You are probably in a ton of meetings and jumping from task to task and look up and it is time to go home and you wonder where the day went! I think one place to start is with Stephen Covey’s concept of Circle of Control from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1992.) I am working from an adapted model of Covey’s work.

The inner most circle is the Circle of Control. This is the circle where you have the most ability to own and impact the results. This might be who you hire, how you plan your morning routine, when you check email, how often you exercise, what present you buy for your daughter and what food you eat. I worked with my client to list out many of the things that she could control and then we started to prioritize the list and put the required actions on the calendar.

The next circle is the Circle of Influence. This circle is where you have some influence but not complete control. Examples might include—getting a position approved for your team, deciding on the salary for a new hire, determining the timeline for a group project, priorities of your team, or the location for your vacation. I had my client outline the decisions that she felt were stuck that she could possibly influence. We found about 4 decisions quickly and were able to put her next steps on the calendar. You could almost hear a sigh of relief from her.

The outer most circle is the Circle of Concern. This is the hardest one to deal with at times. We all have concerns that we have limited ability to fix. Examples include—National Healthcare, our taxes, strategy of our company, or Board Decisions. The challenge here is to make peace with the fact that you might not like the outcomes but you also do not have time and energy to invest in all the things you have concerns about. I encouraged my client to list all of her concerns and it was a long list. I then asked her which ones she had the passion and energy to try to bring into her circle of influence. The only one was an issue at her daughter’s school that would require work with the School Board and Administration. She might be able to influence future decisions if she gets her voice heard and continues to flag the issue.

After we were done, she was still “full” but she had a path to tackling her feeling of being overwhelmed. She was able to make significant progress on her Circle of Control and her last month has been excellent. She is getting ready to go on a great vacation with her family and has even named a delegate to stand in for her work while she is gone.

What about you? What is in your Circle of Control? Circle of Influence? How can you let go of some of your concerns?  Good luck and let me know how you are managing your circles.