leadership elastic …now that’s fantastic!

Leadership Elastic …Now that’s Fantastic!

I love this article by WordPress blogger, LeadershipFreak:

Stretched, Not Crushed

Every time things start going wrong we look to the leader for solutions. Beware! The pressure to provide solutions crushes leaders. When solutions come from the top, organizations crumble from the bottom.

A C-level leader recently said, “When I wake up stressed out over problems in the night, I know I’ve forgotten it’s about the team. Things go better when I include others.”

Stretching others: Leaders who can’t ask people to do hard things can’t get hard things done. Meaningful contributions require deep commitment and effort. Weak leaders assume others can’t or won’t step up. They rule out before they ask.

Ruling out: That’s too hard for them. Making it easy prevents people from stepping up. Give people the opportunity to do hard things. I’m not suggesting you intentionally make things hard for others.

  1. They already contribute so much. Translation, they can’t make meaningful contribution in new areas.
  2. They wouldn’t be interested.
  3. They’re too valuable where they are. If anyone says that to you, update your resume’.

The big ask: The big ask is about values before programs. Programs, methods, and techniques are small things when compared with the power of shared values. Align shared values before making the big ask.

It’s the team:

Carrying the load alone crushes;
carrying the load together stretches.

Shared values are magnetic; they pull people together. Success is always about people before it’s about programs and initiatives. People committed to shared values make deep commitments to each other. Connections sustain and energize when things get hard. Blame separates and defeats.

How do you ask others to do hard things?

What should be in place before you ask for deep commitments?

via Stretched not Crushed, by LeadershipFreak

Story Spines Can Inspire Change

Once Upon a Time, You Created Change…

Storytelling has long been a vehicle for creating a journey of the imagination, a journey in which a transformation happens. In his March 2012 Fast Company article, “Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business,” Kaihan Krippendorff writes about how to use effective storytelling to drive change and growth in an organization. He references a tool called a Story Spine, which is a simple bunch of sentence stems that provide the skeleton for building a story. The Story Spine is a tool developed by Kenn Adams as a way for improvisers (actors who work without a script) to build a classic story.

The basic Story Spine structure

Once there was…
And every day…
Until one day…
And because of that…
And because of that…
And because of that…
Until finally…
And so…

Optional ending line: The moral of the story is…

Sound familiar? Many fairy tales and children’s stories, as well as novels and movies,  fit in this story structure. Elegant & easy! So, what if we could use story spines to map out a vision for changing ourselves? Simple genius! Here’s a great Harvard Business Review article that guides us on using Story Spines to craft a vision for changing our own circumstances: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/a_simple_exercise_to_help_you.html.

Bonus Freebie

There are hundreds of possible Story Spine variations, and here’s one:

  • [The balance]: Once upon a time … and every day …
  • [The un-balance]: But then one day …
  • [The quest for a resolution]: … and because of that … and so … until finally ….
  • [The new balance]: … and ever since that day ….

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Your Turn

Now, how will you use a Story Spine to create change in your own life? Share your thoughts in a comment here!

5-minute Contest: Mentorship and Onboarding

Mentor Me…

Here’s an easy contest to win!

In his article, “Mentoring and On-Boarding: Two Peas in a Pod,” Talent Management’s Frank Kalman makes a compelling case for mentorship as a game-changing onboarding tool. I’m going to take a leap by extending Kalman’s theory, and say that I believe that you (yes, you, dear reader) are an expert in onboarding mentorship. Curious? Read on…

 

You Are an Onboarding Expert

Since you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you’re interested in the topics of mentoring and onboarding (either that, or you’re my mom, who reads all my posts – because that’s what mentors do – invest in their peeps). No doubt you’ve been “onboarded” in an organization before – be it your workplace, your place of worship, or your neighborhood association. And I’m betting that somebody helped you with the ropes when you joined that organization. That mentee experience in itself gives you a certain amount of mentoring mavenship. You know what good (or not good) mentorship feels like.

Let’s now transform this expertise of yours into a reward. It’s time to get you published in the blogosphere!

Contest Guidelines

Take five minutes to participate in this Mini-Mentoring Contest and you could win a featured “Guest Author” spot on the Leadership and Learning Innovation site.  Here’s how:

  1. Take a quick read of Kalman’s brief article, Mentoring and On-Boarding: Two Peas in a Pod.
  2. Answer one or more of the following questions:
    • What role has mentorship played in your own onboarding experiences?
    • What kind of mentorship did/do you provide in helping others to onboard?
    • How can you “pay it forward” for future members of your organization?
  3. Submit your ideas/stories here.
  4. Submission Deadline: Tuesday, July 24th

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Winning Entries

Compelling mini-stories, theories of mentorship, or even 3-word mantras on the secrets of onboarding mentorship will be considered for publication in the next Leadership & Learning Innovation article in this series, “There’s No Ship Like Mentorship.”

Change again? Good grief!

How Change is Like Grief

People experience different emotions when faced with change. Change can be viewed as a grieving process of sorts. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described five stages of grief in her seminal work, ‘On Death and Dying’ in 1969.

The five stages include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance (+ Moving On)

Kubler-Ross described the experiences of terminally ill patients and the psychological stages they go through when coming to terms with their condition. Her work on grieving process can be adapted to help us understand that individuals go through these same stages when faced with any big change, including changes at work.

Different Faces – Different Paces

Different people move through the stages at different speeds, and there may be some overlap between the stages. It is important for leaders to recognize this individual process. A person’s history, the organization’s history, the type of change and the consequence of change also impact an individual’s response to change and movement through the stages.

How Can Leaders Help Throughout The Stages?

Shock / Denial

  • Start communicating that there is a change early on. This minimizes the ‘Shock/Denial’ phase, as people will have begun to see that there is a need for change, even if they are unaware of the form that it will take.
  • When the change initiative is announced, give reasons that reduce complacency and highlight a need for change. Communicate in a way that is clear and touches people emotionally, not just with loads of data. Fully communicate the end vision of the change and what your intentions are.
  • Don’t try too hard to sell people on the idea that things are better for them; they are not ready to hear this.

Anger

  • Practice patience and empathy, and don’t try to suppress conflict. Provide a verbal outlet for people to vent their upset feelings. When leaders provide opportunities for grievances and frustrations to be aired constructively, bitterness and frustration can be diminished.
  • Although people will be angry that doesn’t mean that what they say has no value, they may have legitimate concerns that could affect the success of the change initiative.
  • Remember that  most likely, people are not attacking you personally. Remain calm and patient.
  • Often leaders have been made aware of a change initiative long before their teams, so although they may be at later stages (eg, be at “Acceptance/Moving on” while general staff are still at “Shock/Denial”).  Exercise patience.

Bargaining

When people start trying to bargain, ask them to give the new dispensation a chance. A lot of bargaining is done while people are still angry. Once the anger dissipates, so does much of the bargaining.

Acceptance

  • Help people acknowledge that it is the end of an era, support them in their new roles and encourage them to take responsibility. Set goals with them of which they can take ownership.
  • Continue your role as a sounding board for complaints and questions. Ask ‘How do you feel about this?’ to understand individuals’ emotional state.
  • Begin to stress the benefits of the new situation and how it can work for the individual.
  • If new teams were formed, provide help with group dynamics. People are generally less concerned with the tasks they are given than how they fit into a new group.
  • Plan for some early successes for the change initiative and then communicate them loudly. Once people can see that it is working then they will be less skeptical and more positive about the change.
  • Make sure the necessary resources are available for them to succeed, be it equipment or training or just coaching and guidance.

Moving On

Empower individuals to take the ball and run with it. Let them find ways of using the new set up to create stretch goals and encourage them to push performance.

Let employees innovate and take risks within the new set-up. Let them not only see ways of making the new system work in their favor but put those into practice.

For the individuals who really are taking the ball and running with it, reward them and promote them. Use them to show others what is possible. Having a fellow colleague really driving performance forward using the changes is worth far more than managers telling people things are/will be better. Once people can see it working for a colleague they will be far more receptive to the change.

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Your turn:

What “stage” of change are you leading through right now? Add your comments here.

Create a Contest

Build Organizational Positivity: Run a Story Contest

Remember in school when you had to write an essay on “What I did this summer?” This was your teacher’s way of teaching you the art of storytelling. Well, who ever said the storytelling should stop just because we’re all grown up? 

Everyone Wins

Soliciting stories from members of your organization is a quadruple win:

  • Storytellers enjoy the chance to highlight a meaningful experience, a proud moment or an appreciated person
  • Leaders learn about positive things happening within the organization
  • Teams enjoy the chance to share important events, moments with each other
  • The organization gains a purposeful archive of the great efforts, triumphs and creativity of its individuals and teams

An effective technique for eliciting stories from the people in your organization or from your customers is to run a story contest with winners and prizes. It’s amazing how excited adults can get over sharing stories. So, how do you create a contest?

Run a Story Contest in 7 Easy Steps

1. Define your contest. What is the purpose? What kind of information do you hope to elicit? Do you want individual stories, workplace stories, or excellent customer service stories? Ask a question that excites your target audience’s imagination. Examples:

  • What do I like best about working here?
  • How has our product or service improved the quality of daily life?
  • What does the future looks like if we succeed?

2. Decide how you’ll use the stories. Will the stories appear in your magazine, your intranet site, your internet site, your management meeting, or maybe on a special wall in the building?

3. Determine the prize(s) you’ll use to incentivize people to participate. Make sure that they are appropriate for your organization, audience, and budget.

4. Establish your timeline and budget. Include the cost of prizes, translations, marketing, and time required. How long will your contest run? Build in time to market the contest, review the entries, and select a winner. Work backwards from your deadline.

5. Draw up the rules. Figure out how you will judge entries in advance – you’ll need to communicate this to participants.

6. Launch your contest. Develop and execute your marketing plan, including the who, what, where and when information on the contest. Monitor submissions, adjusting your marketing efforts as needed.

7. Select and announce your winner(s) and any runner-ups. Notify winners directly in advance before formal announcements are made.  Use winning entries in your communications, as planned.

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Your turn: Have you ever participated in a contest? What type of contest would you like to run? Leave a comment here to share your ideas.