At Awesome Journey, we are passionate about learning to be great leaders both personally and professionally. One way we challenge ourselves to learn about leadership, is by exposing ourselves to others who are passionate about leadership. Check out our 2020 book recommendations below hyperlinked for easy purchasing.
To build a high-performing organization we need to be intentional about creating “workability” in the organization. At Awesome Journey Inc., workability means that an organization is working well at delivering the right actions, that can deliver the right results, allowing the organization to win and have quality success. When workability is high, performance will be consistent, repeatable, and reliable throughout the organization. Below are five key building blocks that your organization needs to have for workability and to achieve the results you are looking for.
All team members are clear what the company’s vision and the strategic plan are, to successfully achieve the organization’s short and long-term vision.
In an article by Cas Mollien titled, The Importance of Clear Vision, Strategy & Tactics, Mollien points out that “vision is a view of what the future can look like, in its best form, and that the best vision, is one that all participants can stand behind.”
An Intentional Culture is Present
The organization’s culture becomes real when, as an organization, everyone is intentional about living the company’s core values in every conversation.
Of course, when we discuss culture, the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” always comes up and its true. Without a high performing culture, expected results are not achieved no matter how good the plan is.
A System of Accountability
The organization is clear about what they need to count and measure to generate success and this can allow accountability to be present.
Another key component to this system is that everyone on the team has a clear role, clear responsibilities and defined goals to support executing the strategic plan.
In Bob Prosen’s article, How to Increase Accountability in Any Organization, Prosen mentions that “one of the best ways to help people win is to establish an accountability-based, culture focused on producing results, not activities.”
A quality agreement consists of a clear request and a real promise. When a quality agreement is created between teammates, that agreement is put into people’s calendars, to ensure that the future can be created and predictable. Quality agreements=achieved deadlines and high performance!
Three strong structures that need to be in place are:
- Having the right people, in the right positions, with the right skills, to deliver the results, that they have agreed to deliver on.
- Well-defined and measurable processes, and systems are in place to ensure that consistent, repeatable and reliable services and products can be delivered when promised.
- A set of practices to create quality action, i.e.: quality meetings, onboarding staff, holding staff accountable for their promises etc.
Over the past 20 years, at Awesome Journey Inc has seen repeatedly, that one of the most fundamental places that an organization can improve workability, to support generating quality results is to improve the workability of the Senior Leadership Team.
When a Senior Leadership Team of an organization, is working well together that organization will be generating quality results. So, we leave you with a question…
“How would you rate the workability of your Senior Leadership Team?”
A few areas to evaluate the workability of the Senior Leadership Team:
- Everyone on the team trusts each other.
- Meetings are effective, deliver action and results.
- There is quick movement from conflict to opportunities, through genuine listening and thoughtful questions.
- Strategizing on opportunities well.
- Giving and receiving feedback to each other in real-time.
- Any issues and concerns are addressed authentically.
- Quality results are generated together.
- Authentic communication with each other.
- Quality decisions are made collaboratively.
Contributions to this article from Bhavana Learning Group and the Awesome Journey Inc. Team.
To grow your business, you need to be intentional about growing your people. To grow your people, you need to focus on learning how to “Unlock Human Potential.” The difference between performance and potential is this:
- Performance = the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.
- Potential = having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.
There are six access points to “Unlocking Human Potential” that a leader must listen for:
- Curiosity – the ability to forward action by challenging assumptions through inquiry and wonder
- Perseverance – the ability to stay in action despite setbacks
- Initiative – the ability to create action without being asked or told
- Courage – the ability to take action when you are in a state of fear
- Engagement – the ability to be in action through commitment vs compliance
- Passion – the ability to generate action by enrolling others into what is most important
In a recent Town Hall meeting where you as the CEO challenged all staff to be in Possibility Thinking to find ways to move the organization forward in either of two ways:
- Reduce costs out of the business
- Generate new value to support growth in the business
On the following Monday, you get a knock on your office door at 7 am by a member of your Engineering Team. She says to you, “Do you have 10 minutes sometime this week, I would like to share two ideas that I have been working on to create new value that I believe will move product x forward and from my calculations grow our market share by a minimum of 20% over the next 2 years with product x.”
What potential is this person expressing?
Listen for potential in others and then foster the person’s potential by empowering the person to expand their hidden talent. Challenge them to turn their potential into a new possibility that creates value for the organization.
This blog was written by Eric Crowell and Scott Clark with significant contributions from Tony Zampella (Bhavana Learning Group) and Rob McNamara (Leadership Teacher).
At Awesome Journey, one of the key learnings that we teach from Peter Senge’s book, “The Fifth Discipline,” is that there are three roles inside being a Powerful Leader – Steward, Designer, and Teacher.
Steward You create clarity in what you CARE about. What you CARE about gets your time!
Designer You focus on designing intentional conversations to support the things you CARE about.
Teacher You are intentional about creating learning experiences and learning environments to support your people in being effective for the things that the organization CARES about.
Recently, I was in the presence of three Master Teachers. In August, I was in a four-day leadership course with Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer and Arawana Hayashi in Stowe, Vermont. One of my key learnings that I took away from our four-day conversation on leadership was seeing Master Teachers teach. Here are some of the key principles they taught me about being a Master Teacher:
- Create an environment where learning is safe to be vulnerable. Master Teachers encourage you to say, “I don’t know how to solve this issue and I need support to move forward”. When you embrace a beginner’s mind, new possibilities can emerge.
- Ask thoughtful questions to disrupt your current mindset. This gets you to think differently about a challenge or issue you are struggling to create new future possibilities.
- Create space for learning through “Dialogue Conversations”. When we embrace learning in community, cool breakthroughs start to occur! Dialogue conversations allow diverse thinking to be present to allow new possibilities to emerge.
- Be committed to your student’s winning! Winning means that your students are learning from their experiences (success & failures). By challenging your students to debrief their experience by observing how their learning has impacted their ability to lead.
Ask yourself “has the student’s learning expanded their…”
- Awareness to connect with others
- Influence to impact others to be in action
- Expertise to generate new possibilities
- Relationship to problems:
- Perspective from seeing problems as something is wrong/ needs to be fixed to seeing problems as an invitation to discover what is missing and what is emerging!
Your Leadership Challenge: Be a teacher to your team this week by applying one or all of the four principles of a Master Teacher.
Our four-day Classroom outside under this tent! From left to right: Peter Senge, Arawana Hayashi, Me and Otto Scharmer.
Great Leaders are committed to building a “Culture of Accountability” inside their organizations.
At Awesome Journey, a “Culture of Accountability” means:
- People have the ability to account for their performance in their roles within the team.
- People have the ability to count their performance in their roles.
What does counting your performance in your business mean?
First, consider why and how counting creates accountability. At Awesome Journey, we believe that the things which you count as your performance in your business allow you to have power over them. For example, what you can see, you can have power over i.e. choose to do more of, less of, delegate, ask for support, teach, share and so on.
Accessing this power allows you as a leader to make quality decisions to move your business forward.
When you don’t count things that are important to your business, they have power over you and your business. You risk being powerless!
What are you counting in your business?
- Lost business
- Client loyalty
- Safety incidents
Ask yourself “What am I not counting in my business that I need to be, in order to have greater power, velocity, and freedom to create my desired future?
What is Leadership Presence?
Leadership Presence is the energy you bring to a conversation, measured by the impact your presence has on others.
Components of a Powerful Leadership Presence:
People are attracted to your Powerful presence and engaged to follow your lead and your requests that you have made of them, all the way to the finish line and beyond.
Dialogue: You spend most of your time communicating with others by asking questions versus telling others what to do.
Respect: You respect others for their time, opinions, expertise and insights.
Inclusivity: You include others in key conversations.
Dialogue + Respect + Inclusivity = Empowerment and Sustainable Action
Components of a Forceful Leadership Presence:
Others are engaged for a short period of time until they find a way to avoid your Forceful presence.
Monologue: You spend most of your time communicating to others by telling them what to do versus asking others questions.
Disrespect: You don’t respect others for their time, opinions, expertise and insights.
Isolation: You exclude others from key conversations.
Monologue + Disrespect + Isolation = Disempowerment and Unsustainable Action
Challenge: Develop a Powerful Leadership Presence
Have you ever heard the saying “People don’t remember what you did, people remember how you made them feel”?
- Assess your impact on others through your verbal language, body language, and emotional language.
- Commit to practicing one or more components of a Powerful Presence.
- Ask for feedback about your Leadership Presence.
Our clients, who are committed to living in an Abundance Mindset of “Think Big, Play Big”, have a unique set of leadership practices that demonstrate they are in this mindset. Here’s what we notice they do:
First – Think Big
They have a clear vision of future possibilities that they are focused on making real.
Second – Play Big
This clarity of their action plan to make their vision a reality separates the real leaders from the pretenders.
They have a built a High-Performing Culture that allows their team to deliver consistent, repeatable and reliable outcomes to those whom they choose to service because:
They live in clear agreements:
Examples of clear agreements would be how new staff and clients are brought onboard, effective meetings are run, decisions are made, real-time quality feedback is given, and performance of a project or an event, i.e. meeting, is debriefed to maximize learning and future growth.
They live in a system of accountability:
Components of a system of accountability in an organization are:
- Counting what is important, i.e. Where is time being allocated?
- Clear roles, responsibilities, and goals (KPIs)
- Clear weekly priorities
- Clear individual and organizational 90-day goals with action plans
- Clear understanding of and accountability to the annual operating plan
- Being and holding each other accountable for commitments, priorities, and promises
They have strong support structures:
Examples of strong support structures are:
- Quality processes to executive business flawlessly
- Hiring the right people and supporting their development to be great performers
- Having a set of practices in the organization to support the culture and brand.
An example of a practice of one of our clients is they consistently celebrate on a weekly basis individual and team accomplishments large and small!
They have a shared understanding with the team:
A shared understanding is such that everyone:
- Knows the shared vision and the future of the organization
- Lives the culture through intentional conversations
- Knows how their role, responsibilities, and goals support bringing the vision to life
- Speaks and understands shared organizational language to support coordinating action with others with ease
When an organization lives in an Abundance Mindset there is a high degree of “Workability” throughout the organization to support their ability to deliver quality outcomes consistently.
A great example of an organization that lives the principles of an Abundance Mindset of “Think Big & Play Big” is Bridgewater Associates. To learn more, read their book entitled, “Principles”, by Ray Dalio, CEO Bridgewater Associates. It is a fascinating read about the commitment of a whole organization to live in an Abundance Mindset!
What is one component of an Abundance Mindset you will develop?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb
 Reference: Copyright – Alex Mandossian
I have recently embarked on a new Leadership Learning Journey by enrolling in the Executive Leadership Coaching Program at Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario. I’ve done this to expand my Executive Leadership Coaching development as a coach and as a CEO to support my 5-member coaching team. I’ve just returned home from the first of three intensive learning weekends. One of my key takeaways is the power of “Self-Reflection” (to evaluate) to generate learning insights and action quickly.
I have come to understand that my relationship to learning has expanded by being more intentional about debriefing after a learning event. A learning event could be a conversation with a colleague, a meeting with your team, a learning workshop, a client meeting or a key project. At the end of the event, you pause and debrief the learning that occurred from the event, on your own, or with your colleagues. My self-reflection practice includes this Learning Loop – Design (a conversation), Execute (the conversation) and then Evaluate (the impact of the conversation). Remember, every meeting, event, and project is a series of conversations that you design – execute – evaluate.
My Learning Journey at Ivey Business School:
As I reflect upon my recent weekend at Ivey Business School, one experience comes to mind.
We were put into groups of 5 and challenged to create a Coaching App to support our clients. We were given 1 hour for idea generation as a team, then 15 minutes to create an engaging presentation to give to the class and then 30 minutes to evaluate our prototype.
As I self-reflect (evaluate) on this experience here are my key learnings:
- Collaboration creates rich insights! Idea generation begins with each person generating their own ideas and sharing their ideas with the group. At that moment collaboration took us from a few ideas to many ideas as we built on each others’ ideas.
- Being curious about other people’s visionary ideas was very profound. It took me out of my fixed mindset of how I thought the Coaching App should be built.
- Quantity of ideas can lead to a few quality ideas which can generate viable solutions. Together, our class created a prototype Coaching App in one hour, we called our app “HeadCoach!”.
I have gained a lot of insight from applying the Learning Loop to this experience. The power of collaboration to create Possibility Thinking was AWESOME to be part of!
Bringing this learning into my business taught me that when you have an issue (operational, service, process, communication, sales or a team), don’t solve it alone! Gather your team together for an hour and challenge them to generate a prototype that will improve the situation that you can test as a solution. I have also committed to practicing daily self-reflection (to evaluate) to accelerate my Learning Journey to becoming a champion leader in my business and as a coach to my clients.
Take 15 minutes at the end of your day and Self-Reflect by evaluating what you learned from your day and see what new insights you gain about yourself.
Great Leaders are committed to being intentional about awakening every member of their team to their greatness. They recognize that getting to know their people and understanding what makes them tick is vital to empowering them to perform at their highest level.
Question: As a Leader, how deep is your Listening to Understand and Connect with your people?
Here are 11 key things that you can look for, identify and hear when listening to your people:
- Do they speak using the Language of Accountability: I can, I will, I choose, or I am versus Language of Non-Accountability: I’ll try, I should, I guess, or I assume?
- Are they speaking in a Future context versus a story that happened in and comes from their Past?
- Are they Stuck vs in Action?
- What are their Gifts of Greatness and how can they leverage these gifts and strengths?
- Do they have a Fear of, example:
- Looking incompetent?
- Not being liked or accepted?
- Imposing or being seen as demanding?
- What are their Core Values and how do they guide the person in their life?
- What do they Care about personally and professionally?
- Personal examples: family, hobbies, and/or travel
- Professional examples: career advancement, learning & development and/or security
- What is their current Mindset?
- Abundance i.e. what’s possible and what can be created
- Scarcity i.e. not enough time, money or ideas
- Do they speak to Fix and Rescue others or do they speak to Empower and Support others?
- What are they Concerned about i.e. what are their frustrations, worries, problems, and roadblocks?
- Are they Vague or Intentional when they speak?
As you focus on being intentional about growing your people, and you take the time to get to know, understand and connect with them through ‘Deep Listening’ practices, you will be able to empower your people to harness their ‘True Potential!’
Want to expand your Deep Listening skills?
Check out this article by Tony Zampella – “Commitment of Listening”
Your Weekly Learning Journey:
Pull out a piece of paper and a pen, and for 10 minutes this week write down how much you know about two members of your team based upon the ‘11 Deep Listening’ areas outlined above.
“Are You Reaching Out for Support?”
A common conversation our firm engages in with Executives deals with the intensity they are experiencing as they lead their organizations through escalating uncertainty and change.
21st Century Executives are consumed by increasing complexity that is causing breakdowns everywhere in businesses today. With this new level of intensifying complexity, Executives are asking themselves how they can embrace this new “Unknown”. If we don’t manage change, we risk a higher degree of burnout, more work/life balance issues, more performance related issues, and less strategic thinking that can cause a company to miss competitive advantages in volatile markets.
So how do Executives manage the intensity?
A common response we get from Executives is, “I have never felt this level of overwhelming, isolation, uncertainty and heightened anxiety while striving to create clarity and answers for my staff and board.”
The truth is, most Executives are coping with this intensified complexity by doing more of what they already know; working long hours, putting out fires and fixing problems. Albert Einstein stated, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” In times of significant change and disruption, we need to leverage each other for deep, creative thinking to persevere the economic challenges we now face.
The paradox we are noticing is that this kind of true innovation is at an all-time low. Many leaders are not asking for support because they are stuck trying to find the answers to the challenges they are facing on their own.
It’s time leaders’ step outside the day to day grind to ask themselves how innovative they really are and who they are reaching out to for support. Without self-reflection, collaborating together and turning our focus to what’s possible, we stay stuck in habitual methods of operating our businesses and compromise possibilities for improving performance, work/life balance and corporate sustainability. We acknowledge that asking for help is easy to say and hard for many Executives to do because they believe vulnerability equals weakness!
Once our clients learn to see vulnerability as a strength, they are able and willing to see their fears which had them stuck in the first place. Here’s a short list of what we’ve discovered are many of our standard fears:
- Fear of looking incompetent – I should know what to do
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of imposing – everyone is busy
- Fear of not being accepted
- Fear of looking helpless
An excellent way to support our clients in shifting their mindset from fear to possibility is to have them leverage their peers for different perspectives. Leveraging the gifts of our quality support network challenges our often hidden mindset of “I need to be right and I need to know what to do”. This gets us thinking outside the box, seeing new perspectives and considering different possibilities.
So, we leave you with the challenge: “Who is one person you will reach out to for support who will listen to you and put you into action to turn your unknown experience into future possibilities?”