Do you love to check things off your list?
I do. Sometimes I'll even write things on my list that I've already completed just so I can check them off!
It feels good to get things done. We are making progress towards our goals, cleaning up messes, following through on commitments to ourselves and others.
And yet, at work, if we move into action too quickly and don’t take the time to get in alignment with our team, we run the risk of spending our energy on solving the wrong problem or moving in the wrong direction.
Recently a client was describing a troubling trend in his organization.
His leadership team would discuss a problem, decide on a course of action, and then get into action. After a few weeks on this path, the decision would come up for discussion again and a new decision would be made, one that required new & different actions.
And this was not an isolated event, but a pattern.
This client was discouraged, feeling like he and his team had wasted weeks going down the wrong path. Again, and again.
Sometimes this has to happen as new information emerges, or we realize we need to change course. However, when it becomes a pattern, there may be a different issue at play.
For this team, though they were having conversations, they were not spending enough time to really identify the problem they were trying to solve, which meant that they were constantly wasting time solving the wrong problem.
Sometimes when we are pressured for time, the tension builds as we talk about an issue until someone insists that a decision be made so we can move into action.
And yes, action is vital. But how do we balance problem identification with action?
Einstein famously said, "If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes identifying the problem and 5 minutes solving it."
We sometimes avoid that problem identification time because we think we don’t have time for the conversations. We just want to move; we just want to get into action.
Conversations can feel messy. Sometimes they may lead to disagreements or conflicts. So to avoid this discomfort, we avoid the conversation altogether. And yet, it’s costly to waste time solving the wrong problem.
Conversations indeed take time, but everything else takes longer...
Where do you tend to just jump into action?
The next time you feel yourself wanting to rush the conversation, make a decision and move into action, consider if it might serve you to spend a little more exploring the issue and gaining alignment.
Until next time, wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday. Be brave, be kind, and take good care.
Feedback from all angles
Several of my clients have been engaging in the 360 feedback process recently. And I’ve been reflecting on the value of feedback and about understanding how our style is being experienced by others.
In Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here Won't Get You There, Goldsmith discusses how the skills that got us to a certain level in an organization may be different from the skills we need to get us to the next level.
But how do we really know which habits and behaviors are making us truly effective leaders and which are getting in our way? Seeking feedback is a good start.
The 360 Feedback process gives us a 360 degree view of our leadership style.
An individual participating in the process takes a self-survey and then selects evaluators (boss, peers, direct reports and others) to respond to the same questions.
When the individual receives the feedback report, they get a picture of where they are aligned with how others see them, and where there are gaps.
Gaps can show up for different reasons. One reason may be that the behaviors that took us to one level in our career may not serve us as we move to higher levels of leadership.
For example, somebody who is very driven may excel in their organization because of that drive. But when they become a leader and people manager in a more senior position, that hard-pressing drive might actually burn people out. It might feel overwhelming and unsustainable to others.
Or, it might serve someone very well in their career to be agreeable, adaptable, and easy to work with, but as they rise to a senior leadership role, this same behavior could be perceived as being too passive.
The 360 process shines a light on these gaps and belief systems, allowing the leader to gain an understanding of how they are seen by others. Informed with this data, he or she can grow and develop by building on strengths and adapting in problematic areas.
What do you know about how other people perceive you as a leader? Would it be helpful to get some feedback to see where there may be gaps in the intention of your behaviors and the impact they have on others?
Sometimes the 360 process can be scary for people because they are afraid of what they might hear or they are worried it will be hurtful.
And to that, I say that whether you are hearing the feedback or not, people are thinking it … So better to have the information and face it head on rather than be blindsided in the future.
If you would like to know more about this process and how it might benefit you in your role, let’s chat.
As Ken Blanchard is quoted as saying, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
Katie is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and Executive Coach.