An “old school” way of thinking to get others to take action might be for you, as the leader, to make all the big decisions and to simply remind team members that if they don’t do what you told them to do they won’t be employed any more. Unfortunately, I don’t have any research that proves that method to be effective in building super successful organizations with top-level performers that are built to last.
In the last three Launch Lists we’ve reviewed Leadership Conversations: Challenging High Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders, by Alan Berson and Richard Stieglitz. The first was about how to determine which type of mindset you were in when you were having a leadership conversation – management or leadership. Next, was how to have frank conversations when necessary? In Part III we covered ways to coach your “High Potentials” which began with determining who your high potentials are. (Don’t miss some great news that will benefit you at the end of this article!)
As we wrap-up this 4-part series around the concepts and models in the book we’ll look at a few things to think about when your team needs to take action.
START HERE: PLAN what strategy will be used and whether action should be taken. You may need to have some conversations with those you plan to deploy into action before you decide which actions they should take. Sounds obvious, right? More times than we’d like, though, leaders charge into action in a reactive mode instead of a proactive one. Be sure to discuss options with your high potentials to determine how your team will measure progress. Using a good thinking partner is a good option as well. Choose wisely. You don’t need someone who thinks like you do and agrees with everything you say. You need someone who will see your blind spots and who may have a different behavioral style than you do.
DETERMINE THIS: Which mindset you will use to get where you need to go. The strategy part of taking action is a leadership mindset, whereas the management mindset efficiently implements the plan that supports the short and long-term strategy.
TAKE TIME: to plan how the action will be implemented and how progress will be measured. The planning conversation is essential to successful action occurring. Having the people that will deploy the change involved in some aspect of the planning process will help you mine and develop commitment from team members.
So you might be saying to yourself, “Who has time to plan and have conversations? I am working 60 hours a week and situations that require action come upon us like big waves that we can’t control. We ride them and are just happy we get through them without drowning.” Yep, that’s pretty common to hear from the leaders that participant in our classes at first. Most people feel overwhelmed right now.
Consider this scenario. You walk in tomorrow morning to an email from one of your biggest clients who explains that they want to stop using your services or products. Do you instantly react to the situation or do you plan a response by:
- Responding to the client to let them know that you are immediately looking into the situation (or asking them if they are willing to allow you a short time develop a plan that might serve their needs) and will get back to them as soon as possible.
- Quickly call a meeting of everyone who works on the account.
- Discuss, with your team, what might have occurred that has led to the potential change the customer or client wants to make.
- Do a “round” to hear from each team member to get ideas on ways to improve the situation for the client and your organization.
- Determine a strategy that everyone on the team can feel committed to implementing.
- Decide when and how your team will measure success.
- Contact your customer back to first fully listen to them and then share the strategy that your team is committed to taking if the customer is willing to let you take action and it matches their vision moving forward.
This whole process can take about 1-hour if everyone on your team feels safe to communicate, you spend no time playing the blame game, and allow each member of the team the same amount of time, during the “round”, to share.
Reacting to a situation and getting it wrong will cost you far more time and money, in the long run, than engaging others to determine the best action to take. Be sure you are replacing assumptions with facts. Making the wrong assumptions will cost you, big time.
I am very excited and honored to announce that I spoke to Alan Berson (only because our Office Manager Superstar, Debbie Steele, did a great deal of legwork to coordinate it with his publicist for us) and he has agreed to do a recording with us that we will release in April.