fbpx

Tag Archives for " team leadership "

Growing Teams

Growing Teams

Have you wondered about the key areas you need to consider when your team is growing?

When you think about your leadership and your people and times of change have you thought about where your focus should be?

I recently presented a speech in Brisbane about growing teams and here are my tips.

Firstly, you need to be conscious that during times of growth the team is disturbed. This disturbance can be large and highly unsettling or gentle moving forward.

Growing Teams Tip 1

Where is your team focused? You will need to have duel-focus.

Focus One - Find the people in your team who tend to focus on the future and new ideas – access their thinking during time of change and give their ideas airtime.

Focus Two - Assist the people in your team who think about details and getting tasks done. Ensure that during these times of change that they have tasks and roles that they can focus on.

By having these two foci during times of change your team is less likely to be tripped up by new developments because some in your team have their focus on the future and some of your team are focused on getting the existing tasks completed.

Growing Teams Tip 2 

How do you map thinking in your team?

There are many analysis tools to be found to help you with this.

At Affectus we use the Big Five, which provides people with an understanding about their personality and areas of strength.

This tool surfaces a number of traits. And two of these traits are openness and conscientiousness.

Finding the people with strong openness assists teams with future focus. And finding people with a drive for conscientiousness helps the team with getting the job done.

Find these people in your team during times of change and ask them to focus their energies in their areas of strength.

Growing Teams Tip 3

Have you thought about the team’s needs?

It is important to think about the business during times of growing. But it is also essential to consider the people in the business. 

We all find it hard to consider new ideas when we are feeling uncertain about our job security. Leadership is required in this complex space.

Providing an environment of security during times of growth (which may feel like disruption) will allow for people to remain their most productive selves.



PURE Breakthrough

Are you interested in further developing your leadership space?


Affectus is heading to Sydney in November to spend two days giving people the insights you need to step into the leadership spaces that you see.


Find out more and register your expression of interest. 

Teams and Individuals

Teams and Individuals

Our graduates receive a regular newsletter. Within each newsletter there is an article on leadership that we discuss and share our knowledge.

In our last newsletter we talked about teams and leadership.

I started the ball rolling with “What gender do you imagine when you think about a particular job/career/role?”. I distinctly remember this activity in the early 2000's. It was a fun and revealing thing to do.

Asking:  

  • What do you see when I say police, doctor, teacher, farmer?
  • What gender do you see?

It surfaced our (my) biases.

In our recent newsletter I explored this as a starting point for my discussion about teams and leadership. Why? Because it is interesting.

But this time I asked our graduates:

  • What do you see when you hear the words; leader, leadership, team leader?
  • What do you see?
  • Do you see different genders?

Why is this important to consider? 

And why has it occupied my thinking about teams and leadership these last couple of weeks?

I think it is important to consider because of the limiting nature of our personal biases.

If we see in our minds a particular image when teams and leadership are mentioned this will limit who we look for. And then we potentially do not see the people who are doing it differently from our norms.

By limiting ourselves we are missing opportunities. And in a rapidly changing world it is important to grab the right opportunities. Well I think so! I figure you do also.

When Affectus works with people, whether facilitating a small working team or a large organisation, the work we do is always about the individual.

It may be about a group changing their direction. But it is the individuals that has to make the change.

Limiting biases 

Therefore, if we are considering limiting biases then to start with ourselves (understanding me) is essential.

Do you know your limiting biases when you consider teams and leadership?

Are you part of a team stretching the boundaries? Have you had a fresh look at your team? Are you looking for newness? Do you know how to do this in your busy life?

Look-up. Wipe off the biases that will be limiting your view. See some difference.

Scenarios

OK so that all sounds a bit vague. Perhaps you need me to be a bit more specific.

These are the scenarios I see…over and over again. I'm guessing you will have seen them also.

Scenario 1 - Established team 
  • Know one another well
  •  Adhere to held biases
  • Very busy
  • Team gets a new task/job/project
  • Everyone does the same roll
  • A good outcome and deliver
Scenario 2 - Established team
  • Know one another well
  • Understand their biases may be limiting them
  • Very busy
  • Team gets a new task/job/project
  • Team decide to move the responsibilities around and see what happens
  • A little bit of chaos happens
  • No-one dies
  • Job gets done
  • Good outcomes 
  • Individuals discover new things about the team and may rethink some biases
Scenario 3 - Established team
  • Know each other very well
  • Openly question norms and biases regularly
  • Very busy
  • Team gets a new task/job/project
  • Most/all roles and responsibilities are available to anyone
  • Chaos occurs regularly and the team know how to operate on the edge of chaose
  • No-one dies
  • Job gets done
  • Good outcomes and new things are discovered about the team 
  • A good post-project review happens and further team development occurs
Scenario 4 - New team
  • Don't know one another much
  • Assumptions are made on general biases held
  • Team gets a task/job/project
  • No-one has a confirmed/held job
  • Chaos occurs and people are uneasy
  • No-one dies
  • Job gets done
  • Huge knowledge is built around the team
  • A good post-project review happens
  • Confirmation of biases are exposed
  • Further team development occurs

Which scenario is most familiar to you?

Affectus sees all the scenarios. But we experience Scenario 3 and 4 all the time.

And we see the richness that is created and the depth of understanding that is built. ​

New and amazing ideas are developed and presented to stakeholders.

Yes, occasionally we see stuff being flung off the fan (s**t). However, when we examine what is and has gone on in Scenario 3 and 4, mostly we witness each person focus on a leadership space that they can move into. And they do!

I don’t know about you but that is what I want when I work in a team. A team that comes together and sees the mental image that prevents people from stepping into their leadership space.

Have a look at our other blogs. The most relevant will be A Reflection Process  and Chaos and Leadership


PURE Breakthrough

Are you interested in further developing your leadership space?


Affectus is heading to Sydney in November to spend two days giving people the insights you need to step into the leadership spaces that you see.


Find out more and register your expression of interest. 

A golden conversation about healthy teams

A Golden Conversation about Healthy Teams

What are your teams?

I recently sat with a mum and dad, parents of a few young kids, employees and managers.  I observed their various obvious teams:

  • partners
  • family
  • work team
  • management team.

We are regularly in teams. And even when we are working independently, we are still often in a team.

What teams are you part of? 

Are they all effective and efficient?

As this mum and dad team chatted we uncovered their need to provide more opportunity to do some leadership development in their business and industry. It was a great conversation. I asked about how often they have undertaken a team review and developed a team enhancement plan.

When was the last time you consciously look your team through the lens of teams and leadership?

We explored short term wins, long term strategy and the desire to harness and continue to refresh the workers in the industry. A bit of a plan emerged that would respond to their need to keep their work team engaged and committed to their work. AND at the same time understand how their contribution to the workplace ensures the industry remains well respected.

I spent a bit of time talking about Affectus’ philosophy and why I do what I do. We spent some time connecting the needs of my potential client and the passion Affectus brings to assist people to step into their leadership space and change the world.

When was the last time you connected the passion of the workforce with a forward direction for your team?

It was a great conversation and both parties went home with homework to see if we could make magic happen. As I left the meeting and the handshakes were done I felt confident that I would be talking to this team about what we could provide.

It wasn’t until I got back to my desk and reflected on the conversation that I realised something else had happened.

There had been a secondary conversation about teams.

I had heard the team philosophy of a family, children and parents, through our initial conversation about holidays. My thoughts that afternoon were "what gold there was in both the conversations".

Learning

This is the learning I took from the meeting.

  • Draw on all your teams team experience. Encourage them to bring the external into the workplace to more fully understand teams.
  • Have a team leadership plan. Talk about and address the needs.
  • Review the team skills. Develop areas (new areas) for growth through professional development opportunities.
  • Understand your team “why”
  • Have a regular (and facilitated) team enhancement plan that is firmly connected to your teams “why”.

Building your healthy team

Are you interested in moving your team to performance, through understanding why and surfacing team skills?

Affectus has a simple session that will enhance your workplace and organisation. Email, admin@affectusaus.com.au for further information. 

Teams and other important things

Teams and other important things

Do you regularly see the activity where someone ask individuals or a group to visualise a particular career?

The questioner asks “think of a farmer - what did you imagine?” Careers that are regularly included are police, teacher, lawyer, pilot.

And although “leader” is not necessarily a vocation I still consider “think of a leader - what did you imagine?” This exercise can be revealing for us all.

Having worked in the field of developing leaders for nearly three decades, at Affectus, we are keen for people to see leaders differently.

We  have seen change. However the concept of team leadership can assist with our ability to shake up leadership in a way that will embrace the concepts of courage and vulnerability. We believe these concepts have always been part of leadership.

What is team leadership?

Team leadership is what leadership has always been about. Leadership may appear a solitary occupation and yes, sometimes, it can feel lonely but, we all know that leadership is always done with teams.

Margaret Meade said

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” 

We will come back to this concept and tie these ideas together.

Leadership is about taking those around you to a new visionary future. To do this we must be in an environment where risk is OK’d. and for this to happen vulnerability must be an observable behaviour and embraced as a team value.

So, what does opening yourself up to be vulnerable do? Let’s come back to that also.

Finally, leadership is also about courage. But what allows us to be courageous?

Teams, Vulnerability and Courage

For...

  • leadership to happen
  • the group of individuals to change the world
  • any group anywhere
  • the team to be able to see the leadership space and be courageous to take action

...we need to let people have a go and be OK about making mistakes. And people need to be supported and encouraged by the team.

Can you see the connection?

Can you see how important it is for teams, vulnerability and courage to be the leadership environment? And when this environment exists all of us can be leaders -  everywhere in the space we see and choose.

The Leadership Environment

So now to the trickiest part in this the domain for us all.

Yes, we are all so good at this stuff. It may be some or all of the three elements.

Are these concepts essential? Well possibly not.  But from my years of experience these elements, (teams, vulnerability and courage), ensure that leadership flourishes.

These elements eliminate the false focus on the single person and perfection. Both of which are counterproductive for high performance.

This environment is the environment for all.

Be comforted in knowing that if Team, Vulnerability and Courage are the concepts that are highlighted and rewarded leadership will flourish.

And then the world will change and teams will flourish. And the image in our minds-eye of “Who is a leader?” will be amazing and will include you.

Starting your Team, Vulnerability and Courage 

Here are five tips to start your Team, Vulnerability and Courage environment. 

  1. 1
    Establish whether the unwritten norm is leader (singular) or leadership (team).
  2. 2
    Ensure visionary future been established by the leadership team.
  3. 3
    Introduce the concept of open sharing of vulnerability. "We all make mistakes". "We all need people to assist us" .
  4. 4
    Configure vulnerability in away that ensures people are supported. This is best done firstly by the chair/president/CEO/manager.
  5. 5
    Encourage courage. ”Yeah that is great have a go". "You know we have got your back". "Team leadership is our norm".

Why and How – the importance of both.

Why and How – the importance of both

Does spending time on your“why” stopping you from achieving outcomes?

How much time should you spend on why and how?

Can you do one without the other?

Is either essential for getting to where you want to be?

Affectus has developed a process to assist you to explore your why and develop direction. When we have delivered these powerful “pause and unearth” workshops for small groups and organisations our observations indicate that most people like to think and act.

Do you like to think and act? I like to combine the two – I rarely like to just act.

And, we have found, there is often resistance when we are just encouraged to act.

When Affectus spends time in intense sessions over weekends or mid-weeks we see the comfort levels rise and fall. The variation in comfort levels really depends on the time provided for people to think about why and act (or plan to act) on directions.

Why is it important to discover why and think how?

Thinking about my experience as a teacher, see Lessons From Teaching Naughty Boys Maths,  “Friday Survival” wasn’t developed to get people thinking. Actually it was to distract them from thinking about 3.30 bell.

As soon as I found my why – assisting people to see their leadership space and giving them the skills and courage to step in – I understood the importance of the following:

  • Sometimes people want busy work, but most of the time we want to use our brains
  • We are driven by purpose – our purpose – combined or individual
  • Action without meaning is demotivating
  • Taking action with a connection to what we care about keeps us focused and motivated

Now I am wondering. Do you agree?

Sometimes it is thinking about the opposite that solidifies thought. 

Consider:

  • If an action you are undertaking has an absence of purpose, how long do you remain enthused?
  • If you spend too much time thinking about your purpose, can you get lost?

Questions to consider

I travel alone, mostly. And on those long drives I can spend many hours thinking. (I can also do a lot of very loud singing.) I find that if I don’t pause my thinking and take the next step into what I can practically do with my ideas I can get lost.

So, here are some questions for you to consider

  • What values must be present in your space?
  • What purposeful, meaningful, engaged activities do you love doing?
  • Whay makes you zing when you do it?
  • What skills, gifts and talents do you possess?
  • What do others say you are good at?

Affectus can guide you through the process of getting the why and how balance right. However, thinking through your responses to the above questions will certainly help you start balancing why and how.

Best of luck in your search for why and how.

Being practical about challenges and change

We have had a few people asking

Can you be more practical about challenges and change?

and

What else happens with change?

So, here are our thoughts about the first three phases.

When you review the change process it is important to remember that these phases don’t just happen. We move through the phases as we become aware. And we make decisions regarding our responses to the challenge we are facing.

The important message I would like to share is pertinent for those who are about to embark on a leadership learning experience.

Perhaps you are a participant commencing one of our 2019 leadership experiences. This will help you maximise your first moments or days of the experience. I know I can sometimes spin-off into the stratosphere with my ideas but to assist with clarity of my messages I am, once again, going to try to talk about my experiences and what I have observed.

At Affectus, we have found that the first three phases are often the most challenging so I have focused today's thinking there.

1.     Moving on from Immobilisation

When you are frozen the first action to assist you and others to move on is to re-affirm that individuals are safe.

Recently I had a conversation with one of our graduates. The revelation from that conversation was that Affectus facilitators often ask participants to be fearless and have a go. This is not unlike the challenges that can face us in our day-to-day.

The graduate told me of the repeated sense of immobilisation when Affectus asked participants to take action. During these experiences, the participant developed an ability to move from the frozen moment to action. They stated that

this is because a safe space had been created.

Your leadership action

Create the safe space for yourself through examining your concerns and acknowledging that you will be ok. Make sure you are building safe spaces to counter the immobilisation.

2. Denial

We have been asked

How do you recognise denial and move to the next phase?

Our observation is that this isn’t so easy. Why? Because it clearly involves honesty and self-awareness. Honesty that you want to bury your head in the sand. And awareness that you are indeed doing just that.

Patrick Lencioni talks about trust as the key element in assisting teams in raising their productivity. Brene Brown has explored the leadership concept of vulnerability. Both of these are essential to move beyond denial. Trust that you are needing to face this challenge and will be ok.

However, from my experience, it is most valuable to have someone in my team who can call it. Someone who will bravely ask

why are you not getting on with the job?

This is code for you are being an ostrich.

I recently had one of the Affectus team do just that. You should have heard the accountability (NOT) come out of my mouth. However, through the “call it” conversation it became clear that I had my head firmly in the sand. And it was gritty and uncomfortable, and the sand was getting in the way of my ability to be able to see my way out. It was so useful to have someone trust our relationship enough to call it out.

Your leadership action

Find someone who will call it when they see you are stuck in denial.

3. Incompetence

I have someone in my network who is terrific at understanding the constant need to move people out of that space of “yep I have to change but I don’t have knowledge or skills”. In other words, assisting people to move beyond the incompetence phase.

I have observed my colleague over the years. Sometimes she jumps the gun to offer skilling up/knowledge sharing before those around her even know they are feeling incompetent. And occasionally there is resistance. But through working with her over the years I now know the questions that assist me to identify what I can do to move on from incompetence.

The first question is (and I use it often)

Do I need to do anything?

Well to be completely honest sometimes it is someone else’s role. But I know that there is always something I can or need to do. And that is not to resist and to embrace the change upon us/me/the team.

If I do need to take action the questions I have found useful are:

  • What do I need to know?
    Sometimes this requires some thinking through. Identifying what don’t I know (sometimes easy to see sometimes not so easy) and then finding information. Researching and reading or talking and sharing ideas.
  • What skill do I need to develop?
    For me and my learning style, this requires talking and being shown and then being supervised and encouraged as I have a go. If it is a completely foreign skill sometimes I need quite a bit of time and many attempts.

Your leadership action

You will have a learning style. Find a way of learning new skills in a way that works for you.

Develop the expectation that you and your workplace welcomes and encourages the open exploration of knowledge building and skill enhancement.

Seven Phases of Change

The seven phases of change.

When you are facing challenges, knowing the seven phases of change will assist.

1. Immobilisation

When you are frozen, unable to respond to the challenge you are facing.

2. Denial

When you attempt to ignore the challenge you should face.

3. Incompetence

You need to acquire skills and/or knowledge to address the challenge.

4. Acceptance

You gain insight. This IS about me and I need to respond.

5. Testing

You build response strategies and actions.

6. Search for meaning

You personalise the challenge and establish new meaning.

7. Integration

Done! You have managed the challenge.

Are you ready to take on another?

Find new meaning and make sense of change. Join us!

Facing challenge and change

What happens to us when facing challenge and change.

With our amazing team of co-facilitators we “do” leadership with groups of people all over Australia. And I love it. Have I mentioned that before I wonder?

“Do” means long programs, short programs, day sessions. And, we also assist organisations to understand their value and ensure efficient teams.

We encourage and support change and assist in building confidence to take on challenges. When we “do” leadership we are constantly observing how people respond and act.

What is Affectus’ Philosophy?

Affectus’ philosophy commences with encouraging people to find and step into their leadership space. We also incorporate the knowledge that people all learn differently, our minds work and our perception are different.

Essentially, however, each of us tends to prefer one of the following ways of learning – visual, written, listening, doing ( the VARK model). Affectus ensures that these four preferences are woven into our learning events.

It is important to know Affectus’ philosophy because…

When we ask people to move into their leadership space we understand the above but we expect people to change.

We ask them to challenge their thinking and implement change…at that moment. And we encourage attendees to see the leadership space and step into it. We support and coach them as they do, But we ask them to move from their current position and find a new place to demonstrate leadership.

 Some questions about change and challenge to consider

What do you know about your responses to challenges? And to date, how have you have engaged with the change in your life? What do you know about yourself?

A Change Model – 7 Phases of Change.

During our strategic thinking workshop, we use a change model that I have developed. We help people understand their responses to change. When you are in your leadership space responding to change, it is valuable to understand where your greatest leadership impact can be.

7 Phases of Change

  1. Immobilisation
  2. Denial
  3. Incompetence
  4. Acceptance
  5. Testing
  6. Search for Meaning
  7. Integration

The First 3 phases and what goes on in our brain

  1. Immobilisation – our logical brain stops working and our more primitive (reptilian brain) pushes us to thinking about survival.
  2. Denial – our logical brain regains some control over our response but our primitive brain is still saying “run-away this is scary”

From our observations, it is important to assist people during Phase 1 and 2. To breath (sometimes literally) and acknowledge the concern and confusion. And to also understand they can move beyond these first two phases and beyond the concern and confusion.

  1. Incompetence – our brain feels scrambled (no better way to explain it). Often there is a feeling of I can’t really understand this change, I know it is happening but what is really going on. I don’t have the skills to deal with this.

In our experience, this is where the greatest leadership impact occurs. For leaders to step away or hope something will happen is reneging on the position they have stepped into. It is here that leadership “rubber hits the road”.

What can you do when change is upon you and your team and the challenge is real?

What can you do when you are seeing the immobilisation and denial and you are hearing the words “I don’t know how to deal with this”? You assist people to feel confident and develop competency.

How do you assist people?

  • Talk with them about their ability to understand the challenge and respond positively to change.
  • Build their self-awareness of their own capacity to take on new concepts.
  • Reassure them that you are in this too and that a solution will be found.
  • Discuss how they could enhance their skills or knowledge to better embrace the challenge.

Think back to last week’s article imagine if, when facing change and challenge, we also had a deep understanding that if we bring ourselves, all of our talent and knowledge and self-awareness, to a challenge how we could embrace it and respond.

Challenge and Change – You are enough

Challenge and Change – A personal account.

Sometimes I reread my blogs and think gosh that was pretty pointed. But today as I sat down and prepared my thinking for this blog I thought back to all of the times I have been challenged in my life. From getting the arc of the baseball perfect to reach from shortstop to first base to tag the hitter, through to dealing with an unpleasant complaint made against me when I hadn’t been completely professional.

As I thought back through my challenges I remember a particular day. I remember it being exciting, challenging, confronting and scary. I’m going to take you through that day and keep on the topic “challenge and change”.

Picture this.

A weekend retreat in the middle of the Victorian bush with a group of about 30 people. Arrival was a little fraught. We didn’t have mobile phone GPS assistance then. I arrived in the dark and instantly relaxed as I heard the enthusiastic conversations happening inside the barracks that the group would be inhabiting for the weekend.

Food and drinks were communal. BYO and share.

Conversations and activities were to happen in the lounge room and outside was a space for “whatever”.

One short bushwalk was planning for some time and we were anticipating breaking camp after lunch on the Sunday.

Rooms were sparse (and cold). And we shared with others. Some we knew. Others we knew of. And others were soon to become connections.

The purpose

The purpose of the weekend was not very tight. There were some activities/workshops available. You chose to go to what you wanted. There were robust conversations about various topics. You could engage if you were interested. Or you could sleep and wander as you wished or needed.

There were mandalas drawn, meditation and singing. And there were definitely many robust conversations.

All of this challenged me.

During the first morning, the lack of structure took me back to University days. Days where I spent much of my time finding a familiar face and following them to a lecture in the hope that it was part of my degree (I got better but golly I was bad during 1st year).

I felt vulnerable and insecure. What was I supposed to be doing? Wondering what was all of this about?

Food and drink were safe as I knew what I was supposed to be doing. That was university and day one of the retreat.

The ball of clay

Now some of you will have heard me talk about my ball of clay that I carved that illustrates my journey. I sculpted that “magnificent item” during this retreat.

There were many people attending the retreat that I admired and respected. A couple that I idolised. I was pretty desperate to impress them if I am honest.

Towards the end of the first day as I was participating in a robust conversation about power and emotions and the fear of showing our emotions in public. One of the other attendees (who I was desperate to impress) spoke, then paused (waiting for those of us around the table to stop talking) then spoke again.

She said

"You are enough."

I am sure this was in reaction to us all discussing our fear of being vulnerable in public. But I felt like my armour had been pierced. I felt extremely unsettled. What did that statement mean?

I fired questions…seeking reassurance.

  • Are you saying I am enough?
  • Enough what?
  • Am I enough in your eyes?
  • What does enough mean?
  • Can you help me measure that so I have a sense of what you mean?”

The response was calmly sent back to my ears.

"You are enough Jill"

As I struggled with the concept of “enough” that was swirling around me I heard my voices. Most/nearly everyone has them. I call them my generational voices. They were rebelling against this concept.

Really? By whose measure? I don’t think so.

These were the words running through my head as I looked across the room seeing friendly, caring faces smiling and confirming that I was enough.

You are enough

I took off. Had a wander amongst the magnificent towering eucalypts. I spent two hours walking, struggling and reconciling my sense of inadequacy.

But I returned having a deep sense of settled knowledge that “I was enough”. Yet, that didn’t mean I could sit back and take it easy. No.

The meaning I made of this statement was

Whatever I do if I bring my whole self to it, the thinking, the dreaming, the doing, then I am enough.

Why have I shared this personal story with you?

Because when I consider challenge and change and understand that sometimes my ideas might be pointy and hold expectations…

You are enough

Bring your whole self…you are enough.

Challenge and Change – Undoing fear

How do you tackle challenge and change?

Shonda Rhimes says that the very act of doing the thing that scared her undid her fear, doing it made it not scary for her.

What an interesting concept that is.

A number of years ago (actually many) I was friends with some of the SAS fellas (and it was only fellas back then). Their weekends comprised doing things together that would scare many of us – rigid.

They did all sorts of amazing and challenging stuff while I watched movies or slept. One of the SAS fellas, let’s call him Phil, was a good friend. He asked quietly, over my fourth drink on a Saturday night in a pub in Melbourne, whether my friend and I would like to go to Hanging Rock with him and a couple of mates. Now the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock (the original one – I’m not going to give you the year…you have to do that work) had only been out for 7 or so years. And although I had been to the Hanging Rock after the scary-as-hell movie release it still made me squirm a bit. Now, remember I was on my fourth drink.

“Yeah sure…are we just doing the picnicking thing?” I enquired.

Phil was pretty straight up sort of a bloke, “Nah, we are going to do some abseiling down the longest straight drop.”

In my head, I instantly thought of some of the surfie chicks I had watched during my summer holidays. They had been sitting on the cliffs watching their boyfriends having all the fun (not that any of them were my boyfriend). But before I could raise this issue Phil added, “Have you and Jenny ever done that before? We could teach you, we are all pretty experienced and have all our certificates”.

Well, the short story is we did. And we did including running face forward down the longest drop. It was so cool I don’t think I came down from the high for days!

Had it been the cheap wine (I was a uni student at the time) that had given me the courage? Or was it the confidence I had in my friend Phil?

Was it the public status he and his gang of friends had? Or was I just at that age that yes came easier?

Do I consider that, actually, was I ridiculously risky in my behaviour?

Some would say yes to that question, I do come from a family of varying risk profiles.

What happens when we take on a challenge

What happens when we take on a challenge? And how should we frame those challenges so that they don’t scare us away.?

What is the link between challenge and leadership and change?

Let’s consider those concepts bit by bit.

What happens inside when we take on challenges and succeed?

There are two general responses when we see a challenge ahead or know that we need to take a risk. This is my experience of observing hundreds of clients approach the challenges we provide for them.

These responses are:

  • Jump in feet first or
  • Yeah-Nah.

Now neither of these are the “correct” response they are just different. And of course ,there is plenty of greyness in between the two responses.

Some questions to consider

What do you know about your responses to challenges?

And to date, how have you have engaged with the challenges in your life?

What do you know about yourself now that you have had a look back?

What happens in your brain

Delving further into this first question there is a link between the grey matter we have in our brains and our responses to challenges. And there is also a link to dopamine.

But our responses happen in our brain…so what happens in your brain?

What have you learned about taking on challenges and succeeding or being unable to complete them?

When we are involved in a leadership role understanding how we respond to challenges is important. And, let’s face it, we know many people in leadership roles who resist challenges and risk.

Is that a problem? I don’t think so as long as they are aware of their responses.

Going back to the abseiling. What did I learn about challenges and me?

Here they are. I

  • was doing this activity with people I trusted so I would be OK
  • had confidence in my body and my strength
  • knew that I would be stretched, but I also knew I had a thoughtful brain that would help me out in a pickle
  • am competitive and so I wasn’t going to be the one not participating (not particularly helpful but definitely an interesting driver)
  • am courageous but I don’t like embarrassing myself…interesting combination when you think through challenges.

Challenges and change

Now onto challenges and change. Can you see the link?

There is no doubt in my mind that challenges require us to change what we are thinking or doing. Otherwise there would be no change happening around us.

Perhaps that is a bit simplistic. But they are connected.

When considering leadership we choose to step into our leadership space when we see that change needs to happen and that can be challenging.

Finally, I would encourage you to have a read of some of the links we have gathered for you about risk and challenge.

And please be encouraged to take on the challenge when you are working with us this year. You will see the benefit and you will be supported by the teams we will build around you.

"To lead an authentic life, we need to take on new challenges that stretch us and give us more opportunities to be ourselves." - Stephen Joseph

What does careful communication look like

I have a desire to constantly be stretched. I love that feeling in my brain when I can feel new understanding happening and deeper insights being grasped. Do you?

In my desire to be stretched regularly I plan out activities and events in my calendar. I d so that each year I do one or a number of things the keep my brain expanding.

In 2018 I did a number of things but during November I put all of my in-kind community volunteering hours into assisting a young woman in her attempt to secure a seat in the Victorian parliament.

Not only did I know that the values that would drive the campaign would align with mine I had also spent enough time in her presence to know that she was making this run at the Victorian parliament with the best of intentions.

I cleared my calendar for the whole of November and dived into being her campaign manager.

What did I learn about careful communication during this intense month?

Mostly I learnt about myself, of course. But I also learnt about the power of communication to connect. I learnt this for myself and I watched it happen with Jacqui.

Pascal  Molenberghs, in an article about inspiration and leadership, talks about language and the use of we and I when involved in communication. He also talks about developing a vision and creating outcomes. These were such essential elements in the campaign. However, Molenberghs’ article needs to include more detail. Specifically about the importance of how to carefully communicate around these apparently simple concepts.

What are the tips for careful communication for a hectic election campaign?

Here are my top five.

1. Make the time to communicate

If you are rushed for there is significant pressure that hearing the message is hard and important ideas are missed or misunderstood.

2. Make a space to communicate carefully

If it is noisy find somewhere else or ask to revisit the communication at a better time.

3. Make a space to communicate carefully

If you are distracted or pressured find another time.

4. Stick to the point

If there is angst and confusion attend to the issue but continue to paraphrase as the communication continues so that the messages remain focused on the issue.

5. Ensure you are listening

If you feel yourself distracted reapply your careful listening skills.

Julian Treasure gives a terrific short talk about listening and what our brain does to assist us with listening. He talks about how much harder it is to “pay attention to the quiet, the subtle and the understated”. However, this is exactly what I saw during the campaign. The importance of listening and making the time to listen meant that Jacqui almost did it. She almost won the seat. And she did it because she carefully communicated with everyone she came in contact with.

What are your top tips for careful communication?

Careful Communication Stretch Series

Affectus will be launching our Online “Careful Communication” Series which will allow you to enhance you skills. These two 2-hour workshops will provide you with the Kickstart for your careful communication.

The workshops will provide you with the following:-

  • A thorough overview of the theory of communicating – speaking, listening and formulating your key messages.
  • A clear understanding of the communication environment you can create
  • The development of Careful Communication processes
  • Traps to avoid to ensure your ideas "get through".

The session will be jam-packed with theory, tips and practical knowledge to move you towards being a Careful Communicator.

Get a kick-start to your messaging for 2019.

If you are interested in engaging through careful communication with your children, your partner and your co-workers. Register here for Affectus Careful Communication Stretch Series.

Careful Communication

Are you thinking about your communication? Wondering why listening is important?

Let's move from the careful listener space to how it feels to be listened to. There will be questions asked to assist you to remember and then reinforce the importance of listening and the space of leadership and trust that a listening environment builds.

So, what is careful communication and why has Affectus claimed this concept?

The art of careful communication is getting yourself set to hear and understand.

What does Careful Communication mean?

Careful communication starts with understanding careful.

Careful means to be done with thought and showing attention.

What would listening, and the broader communication space, be like if we were careful in our communication? Careful communication is to engage in a communication process with thought and attention.

Careful listening

Now let’s examine careful listening.

Here is where the questions start…

  • How do you feel when you are listened to?
  • Then, how do you feel when you know you have been heard?
  • What has been your experience of the two questions above?
  • What are your emotional responses to the person who has listened and heard you? Relieved, satisfied, thankful, affirmed?

When I have been listened to and heard I am grateful:

  • for the empathy that has been displayed
  • the time that has been spent with me
  • for the outcomes that have been generated
  • the forward momentum that has been created

And I am grateful for the above, no matter what has been shared. I feel a shift and an appreciation, like my thoughts have been cared for by another. Careful communication.

Revisiting your communication

I would now encourage you to pause and think back…

Revisit when you were the speaker and rethink your communication moments.

  • Were you part of a careful communication moment?
  • How do you know that you were?
  • What indicators were present that signaled that you were part of a careful communication moment?
  • What did the listener do?
  • How were they?

By thinking back and wondering about careful communication we gain insight into how we may become more effective communicators.

Leadership and careful communication

And now the link to leadership.

With over 30 plus of working in leadership and learning, I am overwhelmed by the increase in leadership acumen when an individual simply becomes a better listener.

Our leadership stakes increase when we cease being the speaker and provider of our “vast and endless wisdom” (read sarcastic face) and enter into careful communication by listening effectively. This TedTalk talks to this.

I have to remind myself when I am facilitating our leadership workshops and programs, that people want to find their own solutions. And to do that I must spend time listening and providing the environment for trust to flourish and ears and minds need to be open so hearing is present.

Think about how to create an environment where listening is done within an environment of careful communication. And now consider what are the two adjustments you will make to create an environment of careful communication? How will you work on yourself to build your careful communication?

Listening over Summer

Affectus has emerged out of the summer break with a bounce. We have a new addition to our growing team, you will meet her in a moment, and we have had a break. But mostly my December/January has been a time of intense listening.

  • Listening to me…
  • Listening to the people I love dearly
  • Listening to the community Affectus has built
  • And listening to the political conversations at a local through to an international level.

If our theme for this newsletter is communication then I have to say how I am constantly reminded about listening. As in listening being the fundamental-of-fundamentals of who we are and how we can be our best selves.

I have the privilege of putting my entire year of voluntary work into November. Some of you will have observed my activity assisting a woman from Wodonga who had a tilt at a state seat in the Victorian election. It was such fun and might work. And by golly she got sooooo close.

The November Volunteering actually started well over 12 months prior to the election being called and my leadership learnings from the entire 18 months will remain with me forever.

What did I learn about listening.

  • It helps to not talk if you want to listen.
  • Sometimes you have to stop the other person from talking so you can capture what you have heard.
  • It is really hard to listen when you are juggling too many concepts in your head
  • If you have an active “parrot” that sits on your shoulder and squawks opinions when others are talking then the parrot needs to be caged and shut away all the time.

So as Affectus’ year revs up these are the ideas I will commit to (again).

  • Be quiet, listen, keep listening
  • Shoot the parrot on your shoulder, keep listening
  • Capture the key points and let the other person know you have heard them
  • Listen again and then reflect on how your listening went.

I believe I am a good listener. But, during the election campaign, the effort of listening, capturing and moving other’s thoughts into outputs and action under pressure was an amazing experience. I have a completely renewed appreciation of what we put you through during our programs.

Looking forward to seeing you all during 2019.

Jill

Have you ever considered success?

Success

Have you ever considered success?

In an article in our recent graduate newsletter recently we discussed the concept of success. We discussed whether perhaps success is about self-determined success.

I would love to discuss this in a little more depth.

What does success look like?

When we discuss success and how it happens we talk about what it looks like. This discussion is either pretty straightforward or rather challenging depending on the individual and their understanding of purpose. Success is not unlike your "why" but I think it has a harder edge.

What does self-determining success look like?

You determine what success is.

Get rid of any others who may tell you what success is.

Ask what does success look like to me? My day, my month, my workplace?

However, firstly, it requires you determining what is success.

I think it looks like hands on hips, direct gaze, strong voice and simple statement.

For me, it is not about that really big picture. The picture of “I want to make sure everyone in my orbit locates and steps into their leadership space”, which by the way I am still focused on.

It is more a smaller puzzle piece of the bigger picture. Like hands on hips, clear gaze, thoughtful voice.

Something like "in this part of the project, everyone will have a sense of their own leadership power and will have experienced that leadership is always about teams".

Starting self-determined success

My observations are that when people self-determine what they want then the path of getting there and making it happen becomes clearer.

What are the simple thinking processes that might help you get to the harder edge self-determined success?

To start the self-determined success with these questions:

1. Face-up to your success

What does success look like to me?

2. The End

What do I want at the end of this? Satisfaction? Recognition?

3. Shoulds or Musts

What personal behaviours have got in the way in previous attempts to be successful? How will I adjust these behaviours?

4. Agree-ers

Are you seeking approval from others about measuring your success? Examine this need and work on the unhelpful need for that approval.

5. Find a celebration buddy

Is someone else going to assist you in being accountable? Think about who can support and celebrate your success with you.

6. Move today

What actions do you need to put in place today to move you today? Tomorrow? Next month? Write them down and speak them out.

What is success?

Richard St John has a quick Ted-X talk that has some interesting tips about success.

He talks about how he got there and also what happened when he got to his goal. It is short and interesting. I am not completely convinced about all of his messages but his self-knowledge about how his thinking and attitude change when he reached his goal is valuable.

What is success and how do we find it?

It would appear, no matter where you look, success is about ticking off on an aim or accomplishing your purpose. It would appear simple and if the graduates from this year's national programs were authoring this article they would “yeah-nah” nothing simple about it.

Riachard Branson says

“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with,”

He also wrote on LinkedIn.

“In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”

I often feel a little jaded when I hear hyper-rich people say these things but actually, I think he is right.

Acclaimed author Maya Angelou believed success is about enjoying your work. Her take on success is:

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

What does all of that mean?

Perhaps Success is about self-determined success.

When I have observed our participants over the years the greatest level of achievement I see is when we do the skills sessions and guide. But, we keep our hands out of the goal-setting components and we let individuals and/or teams determine what they want to achieve. In fact when our facilitators have started influencing and steering direction the team moves away and the outcomes are less.

So the key is to determine what you want…is it not?

Perhaps we each need to listen, feel vulnerable and modify. But the energy is highest when we say

“that is what I want to achieve”.

Michelle Obama says that she has observed that

“Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

Now I know that some of you reading this have self-proclaimed cash registers for hearts. BUT I also know that those same people care deeply about the people around them and the difference that they are making for the greater good.

Success is not a simple concept.

We can see that success is not a simple concept. And it is definitely not when you combine it, as Affectus does, with our ethos of leadership.

Then what should we make of this and what might success look like?

Perhaps success and attaining it is about understanding your responses to a series of questions that only you can answer?

Or if it is group success; questions that the group has to agree on a combined answer?

If it is about self-determined ideas then we would suggest that these questions might assist you if you are seeking success.

  • It is about money?
  • It is about status?
  • Are you seeking fulfillment? Happiness?
  • What are you wanting to achieve? And is it only you who wasn’t to achieve the goal?
  • Will it make a difference? And does this matter?
  • How will I know when I have achieved success?
  • And actually, is success important?

All things that push us along require thinking and rarely require telling. We have learned, over our three decades of working with people, to provide the skills and the knowledge but to go really easy on the telling and direction.

Success is most rewarding when telling is kept quiet.

Affectus’ Leadership Leverage

Leveraging your leadership goals can be challenging. How do you leverage your leadership? What effort does it take?

Here are the Affectus Seven Steps to Leadership Leverage that we have found most effective.

Step 1 - Understanding Effort

What do you want to change? And how do you use the lever?

Step 2 - Clarity

Get clarity about effort. Talk about it and test your thinking.

Step 3 - Understanding Effort... Again

Understand the personal effort required to lever for change.

Step 4 - Group Effort

Bring other people in: people who understand the change you are aiming for.

Step 5 - Build the Fulcrum

Build your fulcrum with the pivot point using all the people as your fulcrum.

Step 6 - Position the Fulcrum

Position the people in a way that will maximise the effort you will all apply.

Step 7 - Effort Applied

And now push. Gently, quickly and with all the force you can muster. Push.

For more information on leveraging leadership, read our other articles here.

What does leverage look like?

What does leverage look like? Sound Like? Feel Like?

And how can you lever so that things move rather than becoming immovable objects.

You know that recent spat about the Sydney Opera House sails being used for advertising? Leaving aside that I was a little surprised that the decision was made, it was an interesting case of leverage don’t you think?

  • Who moved whom?
  • What levers were pulled?
  • What did it sound like?
  • And I wonder, for the people close to the action, how did it feel?

I am not going to side-up here. But some of the levering was pretty loud and aggressive and driven by a big personality. Some levering was more active and included lots of names and quite a big mob.

So, what could putting pressure on the lever sound like?

How can you press on the lever without alienating those who might assist you press on the lever?

It has to sound like an honest conversation doesn’t it?

If it is an attempt to manipulate someone, then using this form of leverage there will eventually be a recoiling. And golly, when that happens…when that happens…

Well, we saw what happened. The big personality had to (again) apologise.

It sounds like trusting your idea with others. But knowing that you have done the thinking that if the sharing isn’t received well then you share again. Perhaps you revise, but you continue to understand the need for a shift to happen.

It sounds like you listening and adding, don’t you think?

How does leverage feel?

Remember the power of the fulcrum in levering.

Remember that, initially, you need to build a fulcrum and then you position your idea in a way that makes the most of the pressure you will apply.

It feels like understanding why and feeling the future.

It feels like you are clear and focused. You can see where you are headed and you want to go there.

But, I believe the pivot needs others who will assist in the movement you are determined to make. And all of that feels like understanding and shared knowledge.

That feeling happens through communication.

How can you be empathetic during the pressing of the lever?

Why is this important?

I have done a lot of thinking about leverage and change.

I have a weed that grows in my garden. It is called marshmallow (nice name but a rotten weed). It is useful to assist with nettle stings (which also grow in my garden and yes, I am not much of a gardener). And if I don’t get the levering right, the marshmallow just breaks off and grows a deeper tap root that is twice as difficult to lever out!

Yep thinking about how others are going to respond to the change is really important. Why? To ensure you don’t simply entrench what you are trying to move. That, in your effort to level, you snap it off and the entrenched thinking/doing becomes further entrenched.

Does it always have to be about the talking?

Can’t the pressure be about the doing also?

Well of course. After all, it is all about getting something done. A group to a new place or a great project started and finished. But yep it does have to start with and continue to be about the talking. And, the bigger the shift the more and the smarter the talking required.

Leverage – get on with it.

What levers are you pulling?

Are you conscious of what levers you are pulling? The levers around you? What lever have you put pressure on today?

We have previously discussed a process to maximise your Affectus Leadership Leverage (download the Leadership Leverage Process Checklist here)

This week, we discuss why to use leverage.

I have been doing some volunteer work for many months to help me make further sense of the theoretical. Doing this always helps me when I am trying to get my head around something new. I hope it will help you too.

Leveraging – how it really works.

Nearly a year ago a smart, connected person in my local community asked me to meet her for a coffee in my town, Rutherglen. This was such a pleasure on so many levels:

  • to pause
  • to re-appreciate the main street
  • to get to have a chat with someone I had admired from a distance for a while

Starting the conversation

We started the standard how are you and what are you up to conversation.

We knew each other, but it is always important to know a little more.

This was all very pleasant. The beverages were good,  the ambience was comfortable – tick, tick.

We soon moved onto "what have you been thinking about for your next stretch"?

Those of you who know me know that I can never resist this topic. I love being asked it and figure it is a safe enough question to ask everyone (never assume Jill).

By asking that question the conversation moved to the next level.

My friend shared with me that she was thinking of putting her hand up for the State Election. Now that was greeted with much enthusiasm. I had watched her, with admiration, engage thoughtfully and wisely at a “p” (that is a small p) level for a few years now. What a gift she would be to my electorate.

The conversation quickly moved from “woohoo” to let’s think about this seriously. We teased out the concept of disruption and/or systemic change – it was both. Change this up and change them for the better. Another tick.

I was in! Disruption with a purpose, please!

Taking the conversation to the next level

The conversation then moved to leverage.

What did she have, on which she could put downward pressure, to ensure the disruption resulted in systemic change for the better? What were the available levers?

What were the levers within easy grasp? Well, she had:

  • An inner network of family and close friends. They would be able to become her inner team to run the campaign.
  • Extensive local networks and connections: sport, education, career. She would need them to assist her. How could she put pressure on this lever to create a buzz about her candidacy?
  • A reputation – smart and a doer. She would use this lever to create information and communication to share with her extensive network to increase her “electoral presence”
  • Political nous. She would educate her inner network so they could press on the lever to start community conversations about electoral issues.

Did the leveraging work?

My friend had sorted all of the above out before we sat down that morning in Rutherglen. (I told you she was smart.) But, what was exciting was to see that just by having the conversation with me one lever had been pressed and I was moving things for her (in my mind and as I left the café). I had been levered and as a direct result by the end of the day, I had moved three other people.

By the time we said cheerio we had worked our way through the first four steps of Affectus Leadership Leverage and were well on the way to working on the next three steps.

Are you conscious of the levers around you? What lever have you put pressure on today? Which of the seven steps have you worked through?

The Language of Leadership

This week I spent a couple of minutes talking with Libby Gorr and Cameron Schwab about the language of leadership. We spoke about the importance of understanding the difference between leader, leadership and management.

In the work that we do at Affectus, the language of leadership matters and matters a lot.

There are the conceptual words that swirl around leadership.

And then there are the overarching words that frame leadership.

When talking about the overarching these are the key ones that we need to get our head around.

Leadership

Leadership is the decision to act and affect with a group of others. This group, generally, have an understanding of and an agreement with the direction being taken or the endpoint that has been established.

Leader

A Leader is an individual who commands the group and usually has a title. This title is often bestowed by the group.

Management

Management, generally, is about the process of dealing with and/or controlling people or things.

Leadership and Leader

In my conversation with Libby and Cameron, we talked about the importance of understanding the difference between leadership and leader.

Cameron and I agreed that leadership is a decision and an action and done with others. While leading is about a title which comes and goes.

We also discussed management being very different to leadership. That leadership is about finding a direction and moving there. Management, on the other hand, is much more focused on achieving results.

Of course, it is clear that these two concepts can be undertaken by the one person. However, different thinking is required when demonstrating leadership or providing management.

See, the words are important because they change our way of thinking and therefore our actions. Language is incredibly important.

Words

And then there are the other words…

The words that swirl around leadership; the decision to take action and then to act with a group of other like-minded people.

Words like:

  • courage
  • direction
  • vision
  • passion
  • empathy
  • knowledge
  • teams
  • insight
  • capacity
  • humour
  • creativity
  • inspiration
  • awareness.

These are the most common words our people, participants and graduates mention when leadership is reviewed at the conclusion of our programs and events. And this is what you and I seek when undertaking leadership action.

A new level

What leadership do you see demonstrated around you?

I see people being courageous, communicating their vision and living and speaking their passions. We work with people who understand that empathetic, open, insightful leadership is what they are striving to demonstrate.

So how do we (you and I) get to a new level of leadership?

  1. Understand that leadership is always undertaken with others. You may have the idea but it will remain an idea, an interesting activity until you gather others around you to move.
  2. Find a way to grow your understanding and capacity around leadership. Do this by working with a leadership mentor, a mentor focused and experienced in the leadership space.
  3. Identify what your vision is, big or small; immediate or long-term and start talking about it.

Read our other leadership blogs here.

Self or Others? Wearing a leaders crown!

Is it really only three weeks since Scott Morrison became the 30th Australian Prime Minister?

It is fascinating to see how quickly we move onto “the next thing” in this churn of media. Who won the US Open? What has happened with the typhoon in Japan? Florida? What is the latest with Brexit (no dancing please Theresa).

For those of us fascinated by, observers and facilitators of leadership "the-week-that-was" remains pretty fresh.

The words that I typed on Wednesday as I headed to Hobart to speak at the Women in Leadership Australia Symposium, may have reflected some of the frustration that the country was feeling. I feared that many would be thinking “here we go again”. As my frustration cooled on the Friday-to-end-all-Fridays I spent time considering what could I say, what might I write. And, would I have the skill to describe my deepest worries about the message this gave to everyone that leadership is transactional and about squaring some imaginary ledger.

What I felt we witnessed was the evening of scores. Even if that is not what it was that is how it appeared.

In leadership how you are seen and observed and the messages this sends are important.

Wearing the leaders crown

What many of us know is that leadership is not about wearing the leaders crown. However, it is interesting that it is the tussle that we focus on.

Thankfully leadership is not about the crown.

The leader is about the crown-wearing. But as we witnessed that crown slips. The crown is taken. The head gets old, stale, out-of-touch and/or has kicked too many on the way up.

What is my take?

It is this. That what we saw was about being the leader. However what many of us were hoping for was leadership – us, not me! An open stance and ideal that includes us.

Why does this happen?

I am going to move this away from the federal stage and talk about the organisations we work with and the individuals who engage in our programs.

Why does this happen?

Why has it happened in your local voluntary committee, small business, workteam?

Now I don’t want to simplify what is complex, but sometimes the simple can assist. If we want to move beyond “who is wearing the crown and I want the crown” thinking and behaviour, then perhaps we have to understand what the crown can be.

If we are motivated (only or predominantly) to wear the leaders crown then is it possible to think about the crown being bigger than singular.

Does there have to only be one crown? Please don’t read that as “everyone gets a prize”. That is not what I am saying. And yes, in some circumstances, there is only one crown (party politics maybe). Lizzie wears the crown! Hmmmmm.

But perhaps the issue is about bloody minded I want to have that crown VS actually we are all incredibly important here. We

  • know what our values are
  • are all pretty much focused on our purpose
  • all have incredibly important roles
  • will do our best to acknowledge that all roles are incredibly important.

I also reckon we also need to understand that the crown is a bit of a pain. You have to keep cleaning it. And you have to keep making sure that someone else doesn’t want to steal it or kill you to get it. You then need to have guards and sometimes the guards can’t trusted.

Can we do away with the crown?

How would that look?

Would it help Scott Morrison and his ilk if there was no crown?

Would it be more useful to acknowledge the reality that everyone is part of the us and valuable.

I am not in Lalaland. When people understand that there is no crown, that there might be:

  • a spokesperson
  • a details person
  • someone who develops the policy and procedures

Then, the concept of the crown is an illusion.

Except for Lizzie’s of course. She has a real crown. And my understanding is that many before her have been killed to put the crown on their head.

The health of your organisation and trust

The health of your organisation and trust are intrinsically linked.

Below are ten steps to building trust in your organisation to improve your organisational health.

  1. Talk about fear and trust as general topics and the specifics.
  2. Move toward triumphs and risks and away from shaming and blaming.
  3. Be vulnerable as a leader. You made a mistake, so talk about it. Share it.
  4. Reduce the power differentials in your organisation.
  5. When the executive team joins the employees ensure they are well practised in the art of listening.
  6. Ensure that relationship building is given a high priority. Go beyond talking in the lunchroom.
  7. Highlight and acknowledge the demonstration of personal leadership.
  8. Communication needs to be filtered through a human and friendly tone. Get rid of the management jargon.
  9. Seek feedback from everyone in the organisation – you employ people to use their brains.
  10. Being honest is vital – particularly during challenging times.

Build the trust… Work on organisational health.

To read our other articles on organisational health, click here.

Summarising Teams – A Leadership Program Case Study

I want to paint a picture of leadership in action and teams getting to performance during the four days of intense leadership and industry activity.

In summarising teams, through this leadership program case study, I am going to refer to Tuckman’s Theory and illustrate what happened.

I have just arrived back in the office from working with a group of fourteen wonderful young leaders on Rottnest Island. It was such a privilege being in the orbit of their enthusiasm, focus and determination. They are the Next Wave 2018, a select but powerful group brought together under the management of Recfishwest and with the funding from WA Fisheries.

Forming

Many of the team knew each other. They had shared holiday destinations and a fishing passion prior to the commencement of the program. However no-one in the team that set-off for Rotto last Sunday knew everyone.  (Apparently Rotto is the local name – not Rotti).

The connection happened on some steps at Hillarys Habour. I always love watching these moments where people are stepping out of their comfort zone:

  • stretching out hands for shaking
  • finding safe topics to talk about
  • feeling uncomfortable during those pauses that always happen.

The group did a great job of making small talk but it was fascinating listening to safe topics and see the group structure start emerging.

Some self-identifying that this was hard work by finding very important things in the luggage that needed to be retrieved. The 14 did a great job and what became clear immediately was that there was lots of generosity in the group:

  • willingness to engage
  • extraverts ensuring the laughter happened early
  • openness as people integrated the more introverted in the group.

As we set off for the ferry terminal additional forming happened with people showing their strengths; finding people to walk with and talk to and others observing and being conscientious with luggage and extra equipment.

Storming

This stage happened in a more subtle way and I didn’t observe it all as sleep beckoned most of the evenings.

What was valuable to be reminded of is that when people are clear about the purpose the storming is minimal.

It was also fascinating to see how quickly a team can be slammed back into storming by external influences…fascinating. By halfway, through the second day, it was clear that storming was well on the way. People had formed smaller groups and some people were being somewhat silenced. How does this happen when the task is clear and the endpoint is known?

My observations are, that for some of the 14, the task and endpoint connected to their existing knowledge. But for others it was beyond their reach and relying on “the others” was difficult because they had only formed the previous day.

Courageous and strong personalities started to emerge and this allowed others to “hang in there” and be pulled along. It was so amazing to see the courage and trust emerge. Roles also started to appear…drivers, thinkers, writers, dreamers and more…some of these roles were embraced while others got squashed.

Norming

Norming emerged on Day 3. Who sat where; who spoke first; who listened before sharing input.

It was interesting at this stage to see how often the facilitators (that means me) stepped in to try and steer the team in the “right” direction. At this point, I had to keep checking myself and sit back down and pretend to work on my computer. It was important to let the team work out how do get to the end point with their own accepted behaviours rather than impose concepts. And they did emerge.

Encouragement was such a part of the team norms. I got emotional and had to take a walk when only 60 hours after slamming these people together I heard comments like

"Yep – we have all identified who could do with some support and stretching so we are assisting them in these areas."

Even demonstrations of trust and empowerment. Roles were shared, even though there were clear “keyboard wizards” in the group as they pounded away on laptops; eloquent speakers as they shaped key messages; and team monitors who set small (but then repeated) norms such as refreshments and sugar hits. But this mostly happened because the perceived leaders (the facilitators) stepped away and “gave back” giving the team freedom to find their functional norms and start really reaching for the end-point.

Performance

Performance happened on Day 4.

What happened? Well, the group delivered.

Extremely complex knowledge and dreaming were wrangled into coherent “this is what we need to do for our sector of the seafood/fishing community”.

And we all know what that looks like don’t we…

  • people having a go knowing that everyone (everyone, everyone) has their back
  • news ideas being embraced
  • people working their butts off even at the eleventh hour
  • checking that the endpoint is still where they are aiming

but mostly what I see, as someone who is passionate about people stepping into their leadership space, is:

  • courage plus vulnerability
  • strength through openness
  • insight with inclusiveness
  • leadership because of the team.

It was a great experience…I was humbled to be there at the endpoint when I heard laughing, backslapping, when I saw man-hugs and just-hugs…I felt happiness, satisfaction, achievement, joy and POWER within the 14.

Inspiring work Next Wave 2018.

Teams and Personalities

Is there a link between teams and personalities?

And what connection is there to leadership? What about the practicalities and the theories?

Have you ever done a personality profile? There are so many tools out there aren’t there! Perhaps it was Myer-Briggs, Hogan, LSI? Perhaps none of those is familiar. Or perhaps you have spent time at one of our events experiencing the power of The Big Five?

I see people’s fascination when I mention personality profile and I often wish I had a week to sit down and discuss the fascination of what makes us tick and our fundamentals.

This week I'm providing a quick “heads up” regarding teams and the connection with personalities.

The Big Five

The Big Five model of personality is widely considered to be the most robust way to describe personality differences and is the basis of most modern personality research.

When I first started reading about The Big Five some of the research indicated that the five traits were closely connected and tested against the society’s expected demonstrated behaviours of leaders. This drew me to The Big Five Inventory (leadership and Jill – who would have known).

And it has proved a vital tool. When we work with the diverse teams in our leadership events and programs the combining of teams and personalities is unavoidable.

What makes up The Big Five?

When analysing personalities the question is

What is the best way to summarise you?

Researchers have done this with many samples all over the world and five stand out:

  • extraversion
  • neuroticism
  • agreeableness
  • conscientiousness
  • openness to experience.

The Big Five has been constructed to assess these five traits. We, and others, have relabelled neuroticism as confidence – nobody wants to score any numbers in the neurotic column, right!

Is understanding personality important?

Yep, you bet.

It does not put you in a box, as people have often suggested. Rather, it provides insight and understanding.

Understanding personality and teams, like most concepts that enhance your leadership knowledge and insight, are connected.

What are the connections? Well, let's look at teams first.

The highly respected, and constantly used, Tuckman’s Stages of Teams are:

  • forming
  • storming
  • norming
  • performing
  • adjourning.

Have a look at last weeks blog for some further detail about Tuckman.

Now, let's see where personality adds to team stages.

Layering The Big Five and Teams.

Forming

A time when members are getting to know one another, building an understanding of who is in the team.

The usefulness of all of the Big Five is valuable during Forming. However, one would stand out as highly prized during the very initial stage.

Extraversion – the ability to be energised by being in a group.

Can you see the value of adopting extraversion during this period?

The other Big Five trait that would be very useful during this stage is Openness – the willingness to take on new ideas and being open to newness.

Storming

A time when members can be testing the boundaries of the allotted task and are potentially vying for positions within the team.

When you consider The Big Five Confidence (low neuroticism) as a trait, the opportunity to remain calm and not get caught up in some of the game-playing that can occur during this stage would be a highly prized trait.

Norming

A period of time when team rules and accepted behaviours are sorted.

The ability to ensure that details are sorted and new ideas are heard and discussed. Here, the display of The Big Five Openness, Extraversion and Conscientiousness would be useful for the team.

Performing

And then there is Performing from Tuckman’s Teams. My observations, when I witness or experience teams performing, is that all The Big Five traits are being used effectively and efficiently.

  • extraversion
  • confidence
  • agreeableness
  • conscientiousness
  • openness.

This is also the case for the Adjourning stage when the team is celebrating success, disbanding and look for new opportunities.

Questions to consider

From a leadership perspective these are the questions to consider:

  1. Have you stopped and watched your team?
  2. Have you looked and thought through this is what is happening here at the moment with this group of people?
  3. What development stage is the team at?
  4. Which of the Big Five traits are being displayed?
  5. And which could be helpful and assist?

 We run a Teams Intensive Workshop to help you build and turn your team into a performing team.

What are the theories about Team stages?

In 1965 Bruce Tuckman identified four stages of development that every team experiences. He suggested that all teams go through the first three stages before the final Performing stage.

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

His work has provided us all with decades of clarity and direction, ie, we know the stages and understand the complexity of each stage. Affectus says thank goodness for Tuckman and today we share what we know.

If you think through your times of working in teams (is there ever a time when you aren’t in a team?) you can understand the Tuckman stages. The four stages of Tuckman’s initial theory were Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Later Tuckman and Jensen added a fifth stage adjourning.

What does Tuckman provide?

What we all know about teams is that teams are not just about the job or the project or task.

Teams are about the people, and the process, and how we feel about the job, people and process.

This makes teams fun, dynamic, chaotic, frustrating, powerful and functional. And these are just some of the words used by our alumni over the years.

Tuckman understood these complexities. And the five stages were developed to include the three elements that he labelled as:

  • Content (the job)
  • Process (the functioning of the team)
  • Feelings.

By knowing these three elements, at Affectus, we have been able to observe teams in various stages and marvel at the leadership demonstrated by so many of the people we have worked with.

Perhaps these leaders know Tuckman and apply their knowledge? Or have had so many experiences that they just simply know? Or is it that they have an intuitive understanding? Whatever knowledge is available within the teams this is what happens during each of the stages.

Forming

Forming - when the team first meets each other.

The team shares information about their backgrounds, interests and experience and form first impressions of each other, and they are exposed to the job.

During this time they are treading lightly and wonder about how they might work together.

At Affectus we call this the honeymoon phase.

The team is very dependent on the person who appears to be the leader. Leadership is in process. Ensuring that the sharing of information happens, not just once, but that there is a regular "who are we/how are we" conversation.

Storming

Storming – when some edges become sharp.

Every team goes through this part of developing as a team. And for some of us, this stage may be our most enduring memories.

At Affectus we call this “the devil appears” stage.

Status and acceptance of difference of opinions will cause conflict within the team. Hence the Storming title. And sometimes you definitely see devilish behaviour surface.

The team, although usually unable to articulate this, is needing roles and responsibilities to be discussed and allocated. The leadership during this stage is about listening, adjusting and communicating about the developing and allocated roles.

Teams that get stuck here need a lot of leadership. While the focus may seem completely on the people and the processes and the feelings rather than the content…that is ok. It is a stage.

Norming

Norming – refining the process and get stuck into the content (the job)

When the team moves into the Norming stage, they are beginning to work more effectively as a team. They are no longer focused on their individual goals and others positions in the teams. Tthey are focused on developing a way of working together.

The leadership here is to ensure that the focus on “how we work together” secures the development of respectful, productive processes and not “norms” that will create power imbalances or unproductive unwritten activities.

Great teams are enabled by personal leadership to monitor this stage and to be reflective.

Performing

Performing – we are there!!

When a team moves into the Performing stage, they are high-functioning and are focused on getting the content ticked – the job done.

I have been a part of many teams who are in Performing. It is like high energy, trusted team members, edge to chaos seeking activities, and confidence that the job is being done. It is WOW!

If you would like to enhance your understanding of teams to get your team to WOW, our Teams Intensive Workshop will assist you with answering “What do I do if my team is stuck in forming, storming and norming?”

What is a team?

When defining "What is a team," the business dictionary says a team is

A group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project.

Team members:

  1. operate with a high degree of interdependence
  2. share authority and responsibility for self-management
  3. are accountable for the collective performance
  4. work toward a common goal and shared rewards(s).

A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.

Teams are not simple!

Gosh, that above definition sounds simple(ish) and seems to suggest “so come on what is your problem, this is all obvious and easy”.

When you look at teams there are functional to dysfunctional teams. There are once-was-functional to almost-there-functional. And there is everything in between.

So how do you assist teams to move into functional, whether they are new or old teams?

We will be discussing teams over the coming weeks, developing the four stages below in a more detailed manner.

A foundational theory of Teams

This theory is an old one and a good one - Tuckman’s theory of teams.

There are many others but this theory is practical. What I mostly love is that you can see it. And I know how valuable it is to go through each step with the advantage of not lingering in any of the early stages identified by Tuckman.

The first stage is forming when people are orienting themselves to one another, getting to know one another.

The second stage of storming is when people tend to become a little fractious

The third stage is when the team build roles and rules to bring great functionality to the team.

The ultimate stage in Tuckman’s work is the team is performing where people have defined their purpose, understand the presence of chaos, and are willing to embrace the edge of chaos because they understand the individuals in the team and what they bring.

What are the components of Performance?

I now appreciate that there is great value gained by understanding the components of the team stages. This understanding will provide movement of the team through the lower stages and seek the performing stage.

Forming, when done well, as the team above has done, allows people to get to know one another, to find common ground and understanding. Storming, if understood and identified, will ensure that a team sees it’s vulnerabilities, passions and sharp edges.

If, in the first two stages, honesty and openness have been confirmed and reinforced then the third stage, norming, will be about developing behaviours and unwritten rules that allow, rather than restrict, the edge of chaos activity that stretches a team into performance. A performance level that is not just doing the “job” but much more.

So to get to performance have a look at our tips below. Or register for the Affectus Teams Intensive Workshop

What about the personality layer?

It is important to see teams and personalities as highly connected. Because they are highly connected!

At Affectus we use the highly valued Big Five Inventory. There is so much discussion about the five big traits and we are pleased to have used this tool in our programs for the last 15 years. Our reading on the Big Five now informs significant portions of our work. In the future, we will be exploring the breadth of understanding this tool will bring to your teams.

Teams!

Have you ever formed a team?

Have you ever invested richly in the initial moments of a team?

When you have done the investment what team elements have you focused on?

I have recently become part of a team that has a defined timeline. We came together in the full knowledge of the sunset date. It is marvellous to be part of the beginning of a group and it will be equally as exciting to have accomplished our challenge.

The entire lifetime of this team will be 22 months. The sunset on this group provides us with the knowledge that our effort will be fully expended in November.

What does the endpoint allow me to do?

This month's feature article outlines what this allows and I will possibly share another article after the adjournment of this team. But, for now, I would like to focus on the front end which started informally, for me, in January 2017 in a coffee shop in Rutherglen.

As I have reflected on these initial moments of this team I admire how careful investment occurred. People were informally canvassed to gauge their interest, availability and passion for the concept/idea and after the concept was scoped the first step was to invest in the people of the team.

There was no sense that this team didn’t know what the endpoint could look like but before we discussed outputs we discussed us. This was such a valuable investment and I will tell you why.

It was important to invest in the team because:

  1. Some of the team had worked together before
  2. Some of the team knew no other team members
  3. Some brought new knowledge into a new environment, some brought knowledge many knew they had
  4. Some of us knew others by reputation; some not so much

Because of this inconsistency across the team (like all teams) investing in ourselves allowed us to understand each other more fully and have a clearer picture of our capacity.

What could that investment be?

I would guarantee that you innately know the answer to that question.

From my perspective, it is getting to know people…facilitated (not cheesy) processes that encourage the team to understand each other. Perhaps it is simple as chatting and checking in with all the team before business starts. Or organising processes where people get to share what they would like.

If your team doesn’t do this component then how can people really work together effectively?

>