This year is turning out to be a very interesting and rewarding year. A few years ago, I paused to take some time to get clear on what type of work I wanted to do and what kinds of people and organisations I wanted to work with and how I wanted to work. I wasn't even sure if it was possible. I am starting to see the fruits of my labour and intentionand I love the people and companies I get to work with. Vision is so important, without one we lack clarity and this leads to disharmony. A sense of being unsettled and uncertain without clarity about why you feel that way. I am seeing a lot of this at the moment.
Right now, I feel like the two skills leaders need to be dialling up is listening and giving clarity on the vision. I am seeing a lot of people who feel directionless, who are wondering if it’s all worth it.
We are smack bang in the middle of disharmony. Where people are feeling out of sorts, but don’t really know why. The temptation is to start looking for something (or someone to blame), but when we are feeling out of sorts, it is not always a good idea, so start with the source, yes you! Stop looking out there for the answers, start with right here in the mirror. Even if someone else is “triggering” you, before you respond, ask yourself why am I being affected by this? What is going on in me first?
I was doing an offsite recently where I touched on The Law of Thirds model to answer a question the team had. I always use the analogy of a team rowing a boat. The idea is you have about a third of the people clear on the goal, and weighed in, rowing hard; a third who are undecided, unclear or disinterested and a third actively poking holes in the boat or rowing the opposite direction.
So where does leadership spend the most time and energy? Yes, the hole pokers! And for good reason, you might say. They might sink the boat, right?! The trouble with this as the video points out, subconsciously people who are rowing are wondering “why bother?” and either spare their energy or decide to leave the boat altogether and the undecided might decide that if you want to get noticed is being the hole poker is the way to go. In essence, we start to, in a way, reward
the bad behaviour.
There is also another observation to make to this analogy that I have come across occasionally too. These models are great, they help us to identify where our energy needs to go, but we can miss some other things that are going on too because when people are involved things aren’t as simple as a clean-cut model.
Can we tell the difference between poking the hole and identifying the hole?
Don't assume people are behaving in a way that they would like to. Behaviour is how we judge someone, but it isn’t a great indication of where people are really at. It could be easy to make a whole lot of assumptions based on perceived behaviours, especially when it is coming to you second hand.
I think there are three things that are important to be doing at this time:
Listen, really listen
Yes I know that takes time, but it will be an investment you won’t regret. Leaders don’t assume just because someone is pointing out the holes in the boat that they are the ones who have made them in the first place. At the moment, people are frustrated and because of the stresses, people are running a little low on grace. And very often, if people are frustrated it is because they are feeling unheard. We need to allow space for people to vent, share or chat about their frustrations
and yes, make sure they know what is appropriate. But let’s not assume because someone is sharing their frustrations that they are “poking holes in the boat”. They might just be the only courageous person in your organisation that recognises that change needs to come. Or they might have lost their bearings with all that is going on and listening to them will tell what is going on.
Share the vision, again and again and again..…
Be the CRO, Chief Reminding Officer. In rough waters, the leader needs to remind everyone where they are going and why. Because when it’s tough we forget why we started this journey to begin with and we don’t want to row anymore because it’s hard. Even if you are crystal clear, don’t assume that others are too. And remind them why.
Make sure the vision is still relevant
I believe a lot of the rumblings that are going on at the moment are because people are uncertain and are sensing that their leaders are too. Leaders, make sure you are still crystal clear on where you are heading, for many, you might realise that with all that has happened in the last couple of years, you might not even be clear about it yourself. Most of us haven’t had time to stop and check if we still want to go that way. Just stop, get clear and tell your people where they are heading.
How are you feeling right now? Where are you at?