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One of the building blocks of trust is demonstrating and living integrity as a leader.
And here are at least three behaviors we can intentionally show at any moment in time:
1) Call the things as they are, tell the truth and check whether your reality is the same as the others. Show honesty.
2) Equally apply the agreements to everyone, whatever they are. Bring high attention to fairness.
3) Communicate clearly and leave the right impression, as you have originally planned to do. Live authenticity.
All those three steps will lead to an integer behavior. This behavior is one of the growing seeds of a plant full of trust.
Good leaders have good teams; great leaders have great teams.
A trustful environment helps a team to focus its energy on the goal. Uncertainty and skepticism about the team members’ genuine intentions are one of the factors that can distract the focus. That creates unnecessary questions, gives a lot of food for interpretation and inference.
We do not need to lose the groups valuable energy in climbing the ladder of inference.
Clarity on why do we work with the team, how do we work and what do we want to achieve, helps. The dialogue about the plans of the team members increases the confidence level of the team.
What to do? Where to start?
As a leader, first, share your intention with your team. And then listen what others have to say.
Good leaders have good teams; great leaders have great teams.
Many organizations are experiencing hard times making the agile way of working as their “working style.“ Among the other reasons, for not being able to sustain the agility in the organization, the main reason is the “cultural mismatch.“ Furthermore, we hear also that the lack of “agile mindset“ is the primary cause of failure in agile transformation.
Here is a way to deal with this complexity.
First of all, agility means being able to act from multiple types of consciousness. What are the consciousness levels an agile organization has to have?
The most successful organizations with highly engaged and motivated employees operate from a wide range of consciousness. For agility we have to have the primary focus on the levels which highly support the collaborative way of working (cf. Seven Levels Of Consciousness of Richard Barrett, Barrett Values Centre):
Internal Cohesion: A sense of purpose and strong internal community (level 5),
Transformation: On-going improvement and employee participation (level 4),
Self-Esteem: High-performance systems and processes (level 3),
Relationship: Positive relationships that support organization needs (level 2)
All those levels have an apparent connection to the Scrum Values (here is another article on Scrum Values map to consciousness levels), which are crucial for complex product development. An organization which does not let the employees act on those consciousness levels -ideally at the same time- will have difficulty to succeed in agility and thus in business. That’s the reason why we start talking about “cultural mismatch.“
What defines the organizational consciousness? Employees. Sure. But the role-model of a leader is much more relevant. An organization can not operate in a higher consciousness then its leader or leadership team.
Here is the point: The Leadership style requires alignment with the consciousness levels of an agile organization.
In other words, the leader needs to lead -at least- as:
- Inspirational leader (level 5),
- Facilitator, influencer (level 4),
- Performance Manager (level 3), and
- Relationship Manager (level 2)
Leaders who are not leading or not ready to act from the mentioned consciousness levels will inevitably block the team’s and transformations progress. That’s the reason why we start talking about “lack of agile mindset.”
Those levels go hand in hand, and it requires a reasonable level of reflection to keep them working together.
We can not accept from teams to be high performing and self-organized overnight after visiting 2-day Agility Training. Even worse, we expect young people to become an Agile/Scrum Master/Coaches and building high-performing teams just after the training.
Without mastering the behavior at “Relationship“ level, teams can hardly produce consistently high-quality results.
There are ways to deal with agile culture and agile mindset in a way, which allows us to take valuable steps towards our goals by making the status transparent, inspecting and adapting.
Here are the steps for transparency:
1. Measure your Company’s culture (Cultural Values Assessment);
See the gaps in organizational, leadership and employee level.
Focus on structure and 1-2 behavior to change and follow-up in a disciplined way.
What we assess, we can address.
Agile way of working and nurturing agile mindset is mainly the “Value Driven Leadership” with the high level of Self-Awareness knowing from which LeadershipMindset® we operate.
There are many ways to build trust within an organization or team, where people work highly satisfied and engaged. One of them is helping each other.
We feel happiness and satisfaction if we can help others or make positive changes in their life. As we can help others and make them happy, the same way others can help us and makes us happy too.
And there are for sure many opportunities to get supported (otherwise you do not need a team).
Ask genuinely for help, if you want to see how the trust is emerging within your team.
Another positive side effect will be that you get more self-confident since you are showing vulnerability.
The best way to connect is DIRECT connection without the colors of EGO.
Connection through help bonds a team and creates trust.
Good leaders have good teams; great leaders have great teams.
What is self-awareness in the leadership context?
Self-Awareness is in the center of LeadershipMindset. Our emotions and actions form our mindset. The better we know about our feelings, like “what we are feeling and why we are feeling,” the more it will help us understand how the emotions are supporting us and how they are hindering us from moving forward. In other words, self-awareness is the way to know what is happening in your body, brain, and environment. The environmental part is the relationship we have with others. So, we are also sensing what our impact is on others.
Apart from the emotions, self-awareness is also the ability knowing our strengths and limitations. This ability gives us the chance to be aligned with the reality, with the “now.”
We are always challenged to align our self-image with the feedback how others see and perceive us.
Let me share with you an example: I see myself as a good listener. I do my very best to listen carefully. Whenever I get involved in a discussion, my friends tell me that I interrupt the other person to bring my arguments. Until my friends share it with me, I believed that I am a good listener. Now here is a gap between what I think and how others perceive and see my actions.
Being clear on the reality gives a leader clarity on her values. The leader can be very candid and authentic about her visions. Authenticity provides the leader with the power to be more decisive and take action.
Impact on team performance
Research shows that 92% of the leaders with a high level of self-awareness had teams with high energy and high performance. In sharp contrast, leaders low in self-awareness created negative climates 78% of the time. Effective leaders create a positive emotional climate that encourages motivation and extra effort, and they’re the ones with high level of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is our engine for continuous transformation
Every moment in life challenges us, so we have to work on our self-awareness continuously. We cannot say “now that’s enough, I have developed my self-awareness.”
Developing own self-awareness is a life-long process, which widens our perspective 360°. This holistic view makes self-awareness as the foundation for all kind of leadership mindset or styles we chose to act.
What are the driving values of self-awareness and which questions to ask to nurture it?
Autonomy: How often do you make use of your independence? Why and how important is freedom for you? To what extent are you self-determined?
Courage: How is your strength in withstanding danger, fear, and difficulty?
Reliability: Are you reliable in your interactions, relationships with others? How do you show it in day-to-day actions?
Adaptability: How fast can you adapt to new circumstances, without compromising your values?
Listening: Are you paying enough attention to listening and learning more?
Teamwork: Are you cooperating and at the same time showing the right dose of assertiveness to share your ideas for the sake of team goal?
Curiosity: How do you nurture your interest to become more creative? Are your exploring new territories? Are you observing yourself about what is happening to you?
Personal growth: How do you take care of your growth both in increasing technical savvy via learning new tools and techniques and mental development of better being connected with your inner and outer world?
Responsibility: Are you creating options for your reality and choosing one of the alternatives? Do you own the results of your actions without blaming, justifying, being of shame and feeling trapped in obligation?
All of this has an impact on paving your way towards self-expression, connecting and serving.
Where do you see yourself?
 EI at the Heart of Performance: The Implications of Our 2010 ESCI Research by Hay Group, available at: http://atrium.haygroup.com/downloads/marketingps/nz/ESCI_research_findings_2010.pdf &
Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Self-Awareness: A Primer (Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence: The 12 Crucial Competencies) (Kindle-Positionen371-372). More Than Sound, LLC. Kindle-Version.
Acting from the place of freedom can unleash your potential. To trigger it you need to express your truth. Your truth is not your interpretation of your sensations. It is more facing your feelings as they are.
Seeing what is happening to you frees you up. In that case, your doubt, concern, and anxiety turn into power to choose and act.
This moment is the “creative now” where people see your truth and follow you as a leader.
I was reading the very valuable book “Nashörner, Ein Portrait von Lothar Frenz” (it is about Rhinos). In one place there is a reference to a dispute between Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein says “…you can not prove that there is NO rhino in a room, you will just not see it at that moment.” Even at the moment where Russell looked around and could not see it under the table, Wittgenstein argued: “…even this is not an absolute evidence about the non-existence of a rhino.”
The dispute was about whether we can prove that our perception is confirmed and correct. In other words, we can only confirm or show the evidence of things which are there.
This idea brought me to the idea of making an analogy in behavioral change. When can we demonstrate and prove that we are changing our behavior?
It is much easier to demonstrate and show what we have changed by actively doing it rather than trying to prove which what we are no more doing.
Changed behavior makes a difference, not only for us. Also for our environment, for people with whom we are in contact, day-to-day.
Everyone can make a difference. It is time to make use of our impact.
I would like to share with you a simple and powerful tool, created by generous Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, #1 Leadership Coach. This tool is called „FeedForward.“ As I have used it and got value out of it, I would like to share my experience on using this tool and bring it to the attention of my connections. I hope that you and your teams can get value out of it too.
You can use it by coaching, team building or in retrospectives to develop leadership skills at any level.
We all know how feedback important is. No question. This tool is focusing on „future suggestions,“ hence FeedForward: it is not focusing on the past; it concentrates on the opportunities of the future. It creates options to choose.
In his article, „Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback,“ Dr. Marshall Goldsmith describes why and how to use it. It works like this: „In the exercise, participants are each asked to play two roles. In one role, they are asked provide feedforward —that is, to give someone else suggestions for the future and help as much as they can. In the second role, they are asked to accept feedforward—that is, to listen to the suggestions for the future and learn as much as they can. The exercise typically lasts for 10-15 minutes, and the average participant has 6-7 dialogue sessions.“
Here are the details on how you can apply it.
In my experience, people, who follow-up and show some discipline, they report progress by themselves and by the team.
Among the „Eleven Reasons to Try FeedForward“ (cf. link above). I see here one more reason using FeedForward: we may get to learn within 15-30 Minutes our „blind spots,“ which may be hindering us to grow and be more effective leaders.
Furthermore, during the process, we will be surrounded by people who would like to support us in mastering our „blind spots.“
Isn’t that a gift, a new type of enrichment?
What is your experience with developing leadership skills? Please share with me, as you learn from me, I learn from you.
This is a short reading about how to keep team agreements alive following a workshop or a meeting.
Following a retrospective, offsite meeting or team building activities we promise to each other:
- we want to be focused on the vision
- live the values we agreed on
- we commit to deliver what we promised
- we stop “bad talk” about other teams
- we respect each other
- we do not interrupt when someone is talking
- we do not make sarcastic comments
- we value diversity
In the past, we made the experience of not following the agreements what we commit to doing. Why? We can only guess here: it requires a new behavioral adaptation, we need some time to get used to acting within the team as we agreed on. In other words, discipline, structure, and ownership are required.
Those are valuable, trust building and collaboration enhancing behaviors. We put those behaviors for good reasons: we would like to work as a team and be successful in whatever we do. We want to work differently then we did before. And we all agree on that, we commit.
We know it is essential for us to succeed, so we have to follow it. If we do not support, our team “is not working”correctly, or things are going in the wrong direction.
If something is not working in a factory, production line or the direction of results are not the expected one, and then someone pushes the “emergency” button. They stop the activities. People come together and see what has happened and take corrective actions.
We need this kind of “emergency button” in teamwork as well, until we have the right attitude and behavior established in the team.
We have made the positive experience of using a “reception bell” with teams.
How does it work?
Whenever someone breaks an agreement, people take responsibility and make everyone accountable to call the behavior, which is out of the team agreement: ring the bell: “BINGGGG”….and then say nothing, until it gets realized by everyone why the bell rung. This is a good time for some minutes of conversation and reflection. Dialogue is key to awareness. It is not to blame someone; it is taking responsibility and calling out behaviors which undermine the teamwork.
In the first days, the bell will ring often and later on it will be less and less.
The noise of ringing bell is most of the time fun. People enjoy it so that sometimes they make use of it even before “breaking” the agreement.
To my surprise, I saw the “ring” signs in the e-mails as well.
We made a small survey on the team performance for the time of 4 weeks, and people reported that they had improved their teamwork with the increased awareness and follow-up.
Reception bell costs ca. 10$/€ and you have a lot of fun.
Ilker Demirel, Managing Director
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