Mary’s leadership team had been a high performing group but now they were working hard and not getting anywhere. Mary sensed that they were spiralling downwards and decided to get them together to reset their strategic objectives. But before the strategy session, we interviewed each of them to discover how they currently viewed what was working and what was not in their team performance. They relished the opportunity to say what was on their minds.
They were surprised by the similarity of what each of them was thinking. What was really going on for them was that they were concerned about the viability of their part of the business. They realised that if nothing changed it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That insight propelled them into creating a new future; one that got them back in touch with why they believed in what they were doing. It centred around providing value to their internal client, which in turn enabled them to succeed in the marketplace. Once they aligned on that new future they excelled again.
Mary has now moved into a bigger leadership role but has retained her conviction about the critical importance of knowing what’s really going on with her team. She knows that people want to be heard and to have a say in shaping their future. Otherwise, it is much more difficult to get her team to buy into a vision they do not own.
Mary is willing to do the sometimes-messy work of discovering how people view their world today, warts and all, rather than gloss over things. She employs a number of practices to keep her finger on the pulse, such as small focus groups, larger Q&A sessions and one-on-one coffee conversations. People around her have learned that she is open to listening to their perspective and that she responds to their feedback. Mary has learned that her success is a direct result of an aligned and engaged team.
Ken Blanchard, the doyen of servant leadership, in his book co-authored with Mark Mitchell, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, suggests that, “People who want to be great leaders must embrace an attitude of service to others.”
Do you know what’s really going on?
Best regards, Brian