Albert Einstein said, “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother”.
This resonates when coaching, facilitating, and sharing learnings and insights with peers, clients and colleagues. Recently Kym and I hosted a BRS Breakfast Event: ‘Understanding Your Leaders Impact: What Influence are they having in your organisation?’. Underpinning this discussion was a focus on the Human Synergistics Leadership Impact (LI) Tool and we approached this as an interactive conversation with everyone present at a breakfast.
There are many opportunities for people to attend events like this one, register for free webinars, receive free e-books and so on. The decision attendees made to intentionally give the first two hours of their day to spend with us at the Breakfast is an important one. To make this a worthwhile investment of time and truly add value, it was important for us to not only unpack the Leadership Impact Tool itself, but to make links to the real world of organisations, teams, projects and leaders. This is the aspect that brings me back to Einstein’s quote above; discussing the workings of a diagnostic tool is one thing, bringing it alive by making links to real work place examples and case studies is where the gold and insights for all involved lies!
With that in mind, I have shared some of my own key learnings around the impact of senior leaders I gained from the contributions of everyone present at the Leadership Impact Breakfast:
- Application of LI for Executive Teams – Hands on experience gained within BRS from using the LI tool with Executive Teams has shown the detailed feedback provided is powerful when aggregated and debriefed within a team. It is an evidence based approach to senior leaders understanding the constructive and non-constructive impact they are having in their organisations, projects and teams.
- What does good look like? Senior leaders and Executive Teams proactively working with their team to establish models of excellence and how this can be measured. Further, they identify positive constructive habits and work effectively to execute them.
- Leadership is a security need for all individuals – This was a big ‘aha’ for me in that individuals in organisations rely on their leaders to provide consistency, predictability and a clear game plan that creates the environment for people to perform at their best. Creating the environment for successful outcomes should be a key objective of any senior leadership team.
- What can leaders ignore or not be aware of? People remember the negative aspects highlighted by leadership teams particularly when positive recognition is not demonstrated consistently by Executive Teams. Evidence associated with the LI tool reveals leaders need to apply prescriptive leadership strategies at a frequency of 5 to every 1 restrictive strategy. This shift in approach to “doing more” is important if Executive teams want to have a more constructive impact on their organisations. This is a pronounced shift from the mindset we develop coming up through senior leadership ranks where pointing out flaws and imperfections is the way we do things when coming some technical or line roles.
- Accountability = trust and care – Accountability in the true sense is a sign of care and confidence in each other. Creating an environment where accountability is valued demonstrates leaders care for their people and believe they can achieve. This also needs to be balanced with candour and honesty around how the organisation is performing, what shifts are needed to deliver on goals and objectives and ensuring everyone understands the key priorities of the organisation.
- Addressing performance matters:
- Constructive Approach applying Prescriptive Leadership Strategies – Leaders embed feedback as part of their role and affirm what is being done well, discuss specific areas for development including recognition to provide guidance of best practice in these development areas. Agreed KPI’s and outcomes to bring about improvement in these areas are established and appropriate support and accountability measures are put in place. Regular meeting times are scheduled to check in with progress, provide feedback, and establish next steps for development.
- Defensive Approach applying Restrictive Leadership Strategies
- Avoidance – Leaders do not address the performance concerns despite being aware and allow these to continue and fester. Avoidance does not support the individual concerned and is detrimental to rest of the team if they see poor performance or behaviours going unaddressed.
- Power – Leaders then become reactive after avoiding the concerns initially. This escalates the situation from no action to extreme, such as a formal poor performance process or potential termination without the ability for the affected person to address feedback earlier.
- The ripple effect of avoiding poor performance is that other team members become disenchanted if there is no affirmation of good performance whilst at the same time, poor performance is being ignored or people don’t have the opportunity to receive timely feedback to correct the performance.
- Feedback – To be effective, feedback is provided in an environment of trust and predictability where employees know what to expect and understand feedback is a critical part of learning, improvement and delivering great outcomes.
These insights for me are important as I continue to deepen my knowledge of leadership and what it takes for my clients to have constructive cultures, leaders who have a constructive impact and organisations who deliver successful outcomes. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow through more interactions such as these.
I walked away with the mutual benefit of being able to share some knowledge and insights, whilst gaining just as much back from everyone present. I can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn at the next BRS Breakfast events!