The ONE BIG POINT for any kind of leader (spoiler: It’s Covey’s first habit)

“You don’t have to be a “real leader” to be a leader.” At least, that’s what one of the participants in my training told me this week. 

But I disagreed as soon as I heard the beginning of his story. Because he IS a real leader. So I told him that. 


“Yes, but I mean: I wasn’t leading a real team of people towards some real kind of objective” he replied.


… and that’s where he told the story that makes my ONE BIG POINT here.

“I was sitting at the dinner table after lunch on Sunday and my little girl told me she was still hungry. She always wants more than anyone else,” he added. “Normally I start making offers of things she could eat and, of course, she replies that she doesn’t like this or that or doesn’t want some other thing. But this time I did something different.”

When I asked him what, I was particularly happy. Not by what he actually did, nor by the “result” achieved. But by the fact that in only his first day of training with me the week before, he had got the ONE BIG POINT I want all training participants in my my leadership courses to get.


Yes, there is a ton of stuff you can do to be a good leader. And even more things you can put your focus on at any given time. You can set clear mission statements and align people to them, you can help people with motivation, create strategic action, coach and give good feedback … etc … etc…
But that’s not the ONE BIG POINT.


“So what did you do?” I asked.

“Well first I did what we learnt” he replied. “I stopped and I thought for a second. Just to break the natural cycle. I realised I didn’t want to do the things I normally do that lead to the results I normally get.”


So I asked again: “Cool. But what DID you do?” and he told me he simply said to his daughter that she should go to the kitchen and figure something out for herself.

“Really?” she replied with a big smile.
“Really!” he said. And off she went.


Then came the pure gold: He was about to get up and follow her to the kitchen when he asked himself: “Do I REALLY need to go and watch her? Do we REALLY to talk more about this?” Again, he slowed down his natural reaction just a little …


“Have fun!” he told her, his bum stuck solidly to his chair. And indeed, she did.


So this is my point, THE ONE POINT : 

(Remember, its actually Covey’s first habit, but I figured if I acknowledge that and totally agree, I can say it’s my ONE BIG POINT too right?)


It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a “real leader” or not, if you have a formal team to manage, a family you love or a some other group of people you work with. It doesn’t matter if you do things one way or the other, just like it doesn’t matter if you tend to focus on the “tick-in-the-box”, KPIs or service-level agreements, the well-being of people or the development of their competences.


What matters is that if you just slow down a moment, stop and bring some focus to what you DO want, what IS going on and ask A FEW GOOD QUESTIONS, you’ll already be doing a lot better than a lot of “leaders” who just jump into their natural (often) unconscious behaviours.


“Well played” I already thought…. But the story wasn’t quite over yet.


He told me that about an hour later his daughter came proudly back to the family with a chocolate cake, a smile and a cuddle for Dad 🙂


Well played again, I thought 🙂

That’s a great leader!

(Dedicated to Hans)

Thanks for reading 

If you are interested in joining one of my training sessions or helping your teams to get a better grip on leadership or other topics, have a look around and see what captures your interest. Check out the “About Me” page and don’t be afraid to “Contact Me. Hope to see you soon !

Everyday Corporate Email Nightmare

Next week, I will be talking to about 80 engineers about why they should start using Social Media in their work and how it can add value. I’ve got a lot of great examples, from BT’s Dare-to-Share to simple RSS feeds or using Pearltree to curate web-bookmarks on specific themes…

 

But to get their attention, I will share an everyday corporate email example of inefficiency, inbox-spamming and my general hate for the tool (or its users). I saw this in a video via Twitter some time ago, but after 2 hours trying to find it back today, I gave up and just re-worked it myself. It goes something like this:

  • A sends an email to B, C, D and E asking for input on a question
  • C forwards it to F, thinking he could help, copying in A, B, D and E
  • F replies to all, as do D and E
  • Meanwhile, A asks the same question to G, who replies to A only
  • B replies to A only and A replies to thank him for his input
  • In the end, A summarises the input from everyone

Total emails sent = 33

 

Does this sound familiar? Is it unrealistic?

I had fun this morning drawing it. It looks like this…

 

I’m hoping the engineers will see what’s wrong with this picture:

  • It’s inefficient and frustrating
  • It costs a lot of unnecessary email reading (or at least, filtering) time for everyone
  • It costs in server space
  • It is poorly restricted to a certain number of people who can supposedly provide input
  • … although ironically not restriced enough

Solutions?

Send me an email and I’ll tell you 🙂

 

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Thanks for reading!

 

IKEA and Priority Setting

In Leadership training, we often do a priority setting exercise where leaders have to help their team to put a list of objects “in order of importance”. In the debrief, I make an analogy with the way people go shopping at IKEA. Yesterday I was at IKEA… I won’t say how it went 😦   …I’ll just share the analogy…

 

There are 2 types of IKEA shopper…

  • The first goes to IKEA with a specific mission. She knows what she wants (a bed) and upon arrival, moves quickly, confidently and economically towards the bed section. Faced with 20 beds to choose from, she consults her specifications and chooses the one that best responds to her needs. In the case that 2 or more beds perfectly respond, she will have to make a decision and choose.. or re-visit her criteria to better define her needs. This shopper leaves with the bed she needs and rarely much more.
  • The second goes to IKEA with no specific mission. Upon arrival, she wanders around looking at different things asking “I wonder what I could use this for?” or thinking “That could be nice in the living room…”. On the off-chance that she might think “I’ll buy a bed” she will be faced with 20 beds to choose from and no specific criteria. Quite possibly, this shopper leaves with a bed, although it may not be perfect. Quite certainly, she will leave with many other things.

 

For me, an analogy can be drawn with the way people (do not) set priorities..

  • Faced with an inbox of “things to do”, the first type will ask “What is my mission?” and “What are my specifications?” in order to decide which actions best suit her needs and therefore what should be done. Things are classified quickly and easily and the right work gets done, whilst other “useless” things are left behind.
  • The second type of person will spend time wondering/wandering through the list of potential actions with no real purpose, picking things up, playing with them a little, maybe changing to other actions, with no direction. Things are not classified and sometimes the wrong work gets done or “real priorities” are missed.

 

In leadership training, participants are given a list of objects to prioritise “in order of importance”, given their situation. There are 2 major approaches:

  • The first start by defining their mission, creating strategic action and then assessing the objects in function of their needs. They ask “How will this help us to achieve our mission?”
  • The second start by looking at the objects, asking “What could we use this for?”

 

What do you think is the best approach?

  • It seems obvious to me that type 1 is more organised, strategic and structured. They tend to be more efficient in doing what they set out to do. They prioritise things in terms of relevance to mission and strategy and feel comfortable that everything has been well assessed. I compare them to the “J” of MBTI and I myself like this approach. I am just like that.
  • Type 2 seems to me less effective and things certainly take more time. In that sense, they are less efficient in relationship to their (apparently non-existant) mission. They don’t prioritise in terms of strategy and sometimes end up carrying a lot of stuff out of IKEA on their shopping trolley. This doesn’t fit my MBTI “J”.

 

…but is it so obviously bad to be Type 2? Aren’t these the people who find new and interesting creative useful approaches to things? Aren’t they the ones who see opportunities where the others do not, because of their “wider vision”? Are they more flexible? Does their “no-mind-spirit” help them?

 

I wonder…

Comments?

 

Decide for yourself…

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