I am a big fan of Weisbord and Janoff, creators of Future Search, and learned much about facilitation when I took their training. Their new book Lead More, Control Less applies their years of experience to leadership, and offers great insights.
One of their concepts is how to handle one’s anxiety when leading meetings. Often we try to rush to solution or tell people what to think. Stating the obvious signals you’ve heard people and actually eases your own anxiety. It also eases anxiety for others. State the obvious and pause. In my experience someone will come up with the next step for the meeting.
I have had the honour of working with many talented leaders who are so people oriented that they drive themselves crazy trying to ensure people are happy. These leaders often have to make tough decisions, though, and it’s not possible for everyone to be happy all the time.
Even though intellectually I think most of these leaders know this, they still keep thinking that if they had done something different, people would be happy.
They won’t be – there is no one right way. That’s the reality of work and life – there is pain at times. Helping everyone accept this might just start to ease people’s suffering.
I’ve written about the importance of having cheerleaders in your life, especially when you are trying something new and/or taking risks.
But we also need to step back and analyze who’s in our network more broadly in order that we don’t get blindsided by circumstances and perspectives we hadn’t considered.
Who do you interact with most and/or consult with around projects? Are they all like you? Or is your network diverse?
I have had several conversations the last week about how it is we change. There are many who believe that unearthing how we think about things is a key step in the change process, a great example the work of Kegan and Lahey who wrote Immunity to Change. I believed strongly in this for many years and find their model very powerful.
Then there is the compelling research of Amy Cuddy who suggests we fake it till we make it. In essence, we need to act like we are confident, happy, a leader, creative etc and eventually our thoughts will catch up because we will start experiencing something different.
As with many things these days I am starting to think it’s both, not either or … And depends on the person. For those given to endless negative rumination, faking it gets them out of their head. For those given to lots of action, getting into their heads might slow them down and lead to the change in behavior.
What do you think? What has led to your significant changes?
As leaders we do need to look after ourselves and I know many who make a visit to the spa with girlfriends a regular self-care ritual, myself included. (Not to overly stereotype but in my experience more women than men do this.)
When one of my clients said to me that the spa just wasn’t cutting it anymore, I took real notice. In the conversation that followed she explained her desire to take stock of her life, and bring some new energy and insight to it.
This takes courage and reminds me how important it is to make time for inner personal development work. The spa, while a temporary reprieve, just doesn’t really cut it when your soul is yearning.
I’ve noticed that energized teams are the ones that make time for their learning, are open to and embrace learning, and focus on and help each other develop their strengths.
In complex human interactions, leading with intent facilitates possibility. Hanging onto specific outcomes encourages defensiveness or stonewalling.
I often introduce experiential learning activities in my team coaching work with the line “how you do anything is how you do everything.” I was recently reminded of how powerful this can be … if we have the courage to look inward and acknowledge both the light and dark aspects of our tendencies.
I am a binge TV shows on Netflix kinda gal and had a rather interesting conversation with my husband about what that is saying about me. I declared it was because I like to learn about the complexities of the human condition. Dave gently suggested it might be a need to control. It is not, I heard myself say rather defensively.
Hmmm … now there’s something to ponder on a fine autumn day.
What can you learn about yourself and your leadership from your tendencies?
First off let me say that sketching a landscape on a phone was a big challenge so hopefully you can tell this is a winery and vineyard …
But more to the point, those of us who have done wine touring know that friendly, warm and passionate tasting room hosts contribute to the “winery effect,” wines that taste fabulous and those you absolutely must buy. When you get home and open those wines, sometimes they are still fabulous and sometimes they are good but not as great as you remember.
The reverse is also true; we have visited a favorite winery, been greeted by a tired and uninterested person and been uninspired by wines we have loved in the past. Vintage aside, who is pouring your wine and what they are doing to make it a great tasting experience makes a huge difference.
This type of customer service cannot be taught; a set of steps to follow does not a good experience make. This type of service must be discovered and is unique to each person.
It occurs to me that the same is true of leadership. As leaders we create experiences and have an effect on others that is way beyond “doing the right things” and all about the discovery of our unique passion as a leader.
What’s your winery effect?
Train stations make for amazing people watching. As I sit here in the Florence train station waiting for our train to Venice, I am struck by the difference between people who breeze through the station and those who struggle. Usually it has to do with the amount of luggage people have.
I spend months thinking about what to pack when I travel. That might sound overly vapid but since meeting my lovely husband, I have learned the true value of traveling light. It is simpler, easier and just generally less stressful, but it does mean that I have to carefully consider each item. If it doesn’t make me feel great, fulfill a need or serve multiple purposes, it can’t be packed.
This is a great metaphor for life as well. We need to stop dragging around some of our heavy “life luggage,” those memories, experiences and attitudes that don’t make us feel great, fulfill a need or serve multiple purposes. We need to make our journey through the train station of life a bit easier and more enjoyable.
While I definitely got the physical packing right on this trip, I have come face to face with some of my own life baggage that isn’t working all that well. And that is an unexpected gift of this most amazing vacation of a lifetime to Italy and Greece.