Lead to transform: Why do we keep spinning around instead of moving forward?

Lead to transform: Why do we keep spinning around instead of moving forward?

“Every day we know more and understand less” – Albert Einstein

Organizations, as we know them today, the ones we are part of and interact with on a daily basis, were designed to respond to the concerns of a time when people worked in one place all their lives and took pride in that.

The world has changed, but we have ingrained values, practices and levels of awareness that are very different from what the new generations demand and, in many cases, even from what we say we want as a society for our common future. Even the wave of Silicon Valley companies and start-ups over ten years old may well be a step behind the speed at which new expectations are being generated.

The world changes at a rapid pace. If we think we understand how it works, we will quickly realize that feeling doesn’t last too long.

This directly influences our capabilities and our effectiveness, our purpose, and our intentions. Let’s take the recurring example of work/life balance, which features prominently in almost every internal corporate survey, without finding a fundamental solution.

Every year, organizations react to their internal surveys with the best intentions of providing solutions to specific problems. However, it is often the same as with the “hamster wheel”: everything keeps spinning without moving forward, with no real effect, because the underlying issue is hardly addressed.

More questions are needed, in this case: When did we start talking and behaving as if life and work were two separate spaces that need to compensate for each other? If we don’t like what we do in one of these areas, can the other compensate us? Is it even effective to think that there is a self that works and a self that takes over to start living when the other one finishes its working hours? Are we asking the right questions?

Powerful question to ask yourself:

What questions should we ask ourselves to really understand the present world, and thus genuinely respond to today’s challenges?

Make change happen:

Try this.

  • Think of a challenge you have ahead of you.
  • Write down a list of all the things you think you know about it, and without prior analysis, would influence your decision-making.
  • Make a list of questions to challenge those beliefs or others you think exist.
  • Meet with your team to question all of these underlying issues before you begin to make any decisions.

NEWSLETTER: LEAD TO TRANSFORM

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, so you can successfully lead transformation processes: inspiration to engage, a question to reflect on, and an action to try. Make change happen!

Lead to transform: The power of example to multiply

Lead to transform: The power of example to multiply

Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter

We get blinded by our daily responsibilities and heavy burdens. So, we ask ourselves:

How can we look at the big picture and the future, focusing on doing those things that are priority to bring about sustainable change?

How do we invest time and energy in changing something that has worked so far and is so strongly rooted?

Why change something that will probably help us continue to survive in the short term, or with a little luck, to remain successful for a while longer?

Why take a risk in trying something new if we don’t know if it will work?

Firstly, because if we don’t do it in time, guided by our own values, beliefs and needs when we already see the opportunity, sooner or later -sooner rather than later, I should say- the world will do it for us, imposing its times and rules on us. The unprecedented year 2020 has been a clear proof that we don’t control everything – rather quite little – and that the world can exponentially accelerate its needs as much as it can create new habits by force.

Furthermore, if we don’t do it, instead of producing changes in the system, we start to create isolated heroes. Those people who do things out of the ordinary, who we celebrate from time to time and whose counter-cultural examples we rely on to create the illusion that we are bringing about profound change. But in reality, we call them heroes because they are willing to take unprecedented risks, in the attempt to do what is declared to be right and will be good for the whole. Marvel and DC remind us all the time of those beautiful stories of unsung heroes who are the exception to the rule, and who, therefore, can never abandon their role.

In a process of change we do not want isolated and exceptional heroes. We want good examples that serve to multiply. We want the new norm to be just that, to try new ways of bringing what we say is important to life, to everyday conversations and processes, and for everyone to know that they will not be in danger for doing so.

Powerful question to ask yourself:

What new thing am I going to try today to honor what I say is important?

Make change happen:

Try setting up this ritual:

  • Write your organization’s purpose on a post-it note and hang it in a visible place in your workspace.
  • Every morning, as you sit in your office, read the post-it and ask yourself the powerful question and come up with actions aligned with your organization’s purpose
  • Pick one action and do it!
  • Once you have integrated this new habit and experienced its benefits, share it with your team to inspire others to perform this or a similar ritual.

NEWSLETTER: LEAD TO TRANSFORM

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, so you can successfully lead transformation processes: inspiration to engage, a question to reflect on, and an action to try. Make change happen!

Lead to transform: From words to action

Lead to transform: From words to action

“Action expresses priorities” – Mahatma Gandhi

One of the biggest obstacles to generating sustainable transformations is that they need to be credible. There need to be “signs” that give people confidence that we are all pulling together to the same side. This starts with those of us who lead these processes and here we link organizational and personal change. The system and the individual feed on each other in vicious or virtuous circles. We do not have to change and evolve because “we have to”, because it is “what is expected”, or because it is a trendy term. Slogans do not work here. They do not hold up over time. This is a common problem.

Many leaders express, privately and publicly, that they want to change and drive organizational change. They recognize, generally with good intentions and conviction, that it is a great idea to achieve an evolution of culture and, that each member of the organization should develop where he or she needs it the most. That they need to be supported because “Culture is key!”. That it’s a priority. That without it they will not be able to achieve the results they have set for the future. That they must change the way they work.

However, many times those good intentions are left unfulfilled, and these statements end up being nothing more than a very good declaration of intentions with an inspiring slogan. A story that may be attractive and effective in narrative terms but does not necessarily focus on producing sustainable results. Instead, it creates a new layer of immunity to change which turns into a double-edged sword that will make everything even more difficult for those who will come after us.

In a world of hyper-communication with constant new ideas and fashions, we are faced with the problem that many leaders fall in love with talking about concepts rather than falling in love with “doing”.

Powerful question to ask yourself:

What are you and your team going to do today that is aligned with your purpose?

Make change happen:

Try this!

  1. Find out the purpose that your organization promotes (Slogans, advertising…)
  2. Observe your own internal speech and analyze your and your team’s daily actions
  3. Make changes to your and your team’s speech and actions to better align with the organization’s purpose
  4. Implement 1-3 changes every week for the next few weeks
  5. What are you going to do in the next 24 hours to initiate that change?

NEWSLETTER: LEAD TO TRANSFORM

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, so you can successfully lead transformation processes: inspiration to engage, a question to reflect on, and an action to try. Make change happen!

Lead to transform:  How do we create flawless commitments?

Lead to transform: How do we create flawless commitments?

“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work. It´s hard to imagine an organization without semblance of trust operating somehow, somewhere. An organization without trust is more than an anomaly, it´s a misnomer, a dim creature of Kafka´s imagination. Trust implies accountability, predictability , reliability. It´s what sells products and keeps organizations humming. Trust is the glue that maintains organizational integrity.”

― Warren Bennis y Burt Nanus

In today’s world, we all need the cooperation of an unimaginable number of people, even for the most trivial things.

For example, think about the device from which you are reading this and the people who collaborated so you can have it right now in your hands: designers, assemblers, transporters, sellers…

All this has to be in the right place and done in a specific way, so that it is now in your hands. That’s the case with everything we buy or consume. If something is not where and when we expect it, we lose confidence.

Organizations are networks of commitments, and we are part of that network. The ability to know what we have to do, commit, and execute our part of the deal, is a process that happens every day through the requests and answers we give or that are given to us.

The following question and practical exercise can help you work towards that excellent performance!

Powerful question to ask yourself:

When I say yes to a request, do I have the will, capabilities, and resources to do it? Check on yourself.

Make change happen:

Try  this!

Every time you finish a meeting or conversation, ask and clarify:

  • What needs to be done?
  • Who will do it?
  • When does it need to be done by?
  • What is the quality expected?

At the same time, the next time you receive a request, give it the necessary attention to respond    based on:

  • Do you intend to meet the conditions requested? If the answer is no, you better say it and deal with the difficult conversation now.
  • Is there anything you didn’t understand that needs to be clarified? If yes, ask!
  • Is there anything about the request that doesn’t quite work? Express your opinion and renegotiate times,  standards  or whatever it takes!

In these conversations, you have the power to commit to what you can and want to accomplish. If not, you’ll be creating a bigger problem that will require a lot more energy to solve.

NEWSLETTER: LEAD TO TRANSFORM

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, so you can successfully lead transformation processes: inspiration to engage, a question to reflect on, and an action to try. Make change happen!

Lead to Transform: From taboo to resilience

Lead to Transform: From taboo to resilience

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

― Rumi

According to a study published in the journal ‘The Lancet Psychiatry’, 1 in 5 patients who survive COVID-19 develop some form of mental disorder within 90 days. The most common disorders diagnosed among covid-19 survivors are anxiety, depression, or insomnia; but the researchers, led by Oxford University psychiatry professor Paul Harrison, have also detected significantly high levels of dementia and brain damage.

Jude Mary Cénat, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa and leader of the group of experts, also carried out a research on COVID-19 that was published in the scientific journal ‘Psychiatry Research’.  In that research, experts found the prevalence of symptoms of insomnia was present in 24% of the affected population, that post-traumatic stress disorder reached 22%, depression stood at 16%, and anxiety reached 15%. The article underlines that depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder were three, four, and five times, respectively, more frequent compared to what is usually reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

And this reality that affects many people, has obviously also reached organizations. More and more leaders are experiencing it firsthand or through the people in their teams. And the biggest problem is not that this happens.  The problem comes when it’s presented as a taboo, something that cannot be said, and therefore it cannot be used to build more effective teams. Gaps or even nosedives can be an excellent starting point for strengthening the psychological environment of the organization and work teams. As Dr Paul Keedwell, an expert on mood disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, states in his book How Sadness Survived: “depression is multifaceted: it can lead to great insights and achievements, as well as great tragedies”.

What can we do to help our teams work through these symptoms and resolve them?

Here is a powerful question and some ideas to take action on.

Powerful question to ask yourself:

What symptoms am I feeling that I can openly share with my team and lead by example?

Make change happen:

Try this!

If most of your teams are currently working remotely, resume the “hallway conversations”.

  • Create a weekly session where everyone simply shares how they’re feeling. Share:
  • Your stress level: we all have stress. The important thing to know is whether you are having eustress (positive stress) or distress (negative stress).
  • Physical symptoms that may be related to anxiety: I’m not hungry or I’m very hungry, sweaty palms, choking sensation…
  • Experiences in the past related to mental problems. Cases of people close to you in a positive tone.

Whenever you have the chance, ask:

  • How are you feeling?
  • How are things at home?
  • Do you need any help with…?

Observe: 

  • Behavioral changes: for example, an introverted person who becomes extroverted very abruptly.
  • Physical changes: weight loss/gain, lack of sleep, aches, and pains…
  • And before you leave the meeting
    • Can someone summarize their understanding?
    • Who needs to do what and by when?

NEWSLETTER: LEAD TO TRANSFORM

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, so you can successfully lead transformation processes: inspiration to engage, a question to reflect on, and an action to try. Make change happen!

Lead to transform: Decide to make things happen!

Lead to transform: Decide to make things happen!

“The worst business decision you can make is no decision. The needs are not going to go away. Waiting is what’s gotten us in the situation we’re in now.”

John Peace

After we leave a meeting, we frequently don’t understand what was decided and/or by whom. And sometimes, we’re not present in that meeting and someone tells us what was decided, what we need to do, and we still don’t understand the why and when.

So… often, the actual implementation of the decision taken doesn’t flow or materialize and we spend unnecessary time trying to figure out what is wrong and how to resolve it.

Organizations are networks of commitments, and when things don’t flow, the whole system suffers, including the customers.

How can we get out of this way of operating that only brings us more work, inter-personal conflicts, and frustration?

Who should we involve? How can we know people are committed? How can we improve the quality of the conversations and optimize the decision-making process?

In this chart you can see all the important factors to consider in the decision-making process:

decision making

But now, let me get to the point with a powerful question and a checklist that I give to all the teams I work with. As I ask them, I ask you to incorporate and practice this in every important meeting or decision-making coming up.

This solves at least 90% of the problems… if you put it into practice!

Powerful question to ask yourself:

What do I need to do to feel comfortable being explicit, direct, and upfront about the decision-making process and get everyone’s buy-in?

Make change happen:

Try this!

  • When you are in a meeting and a decision needs to be made, ask before starting (and you will save tons of time afterwards!):
    • Who will decide this and by when?
    • How will we make this decision? How are we participating? (check the graph above on decision making and choose just one way to do it!)
    • Do we need to call in anyone who is critical to make this decision?
  • And before you leave the meeting
    • Can someone summarize their understanding?
    • Who needs to do what and by when?

Adjust your schedule to this, no matter what, for one week, and let´s see what happens!

You can download and print here the checklist to take to your meetings.

NEWSLETTER: LEAD TO TRANSFORM

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, so you can successfully lead transformation processes: inspiration to engage, a question to reflect on, and an action to try. Make change happen!

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