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):

7-LevelsInternal 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);

2. Measure your Leader’s Values/Mindset (Leadership Values Assessment or LeadershipMindset®);

3. Measure your Team’s Culture/Effectiveness (Small Group Assessment or Agile Team Effectiveness Assessment);

Inspect:

See the gaps in organizational, leadership and employee level.

Adapt: 

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[1]. 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?

[1] 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.

http://www.marshallgoldsmith.com/articles/try-feedforward-instead-feedback/

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
  • etc.

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.

Sounds familiar?

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.

Agile Leadership: Self-awareness, Mindset, and Leading

No one is questioning: to be “agile” we have to have an “agile mindset.” We expect from everyone in the organization to have this mindset.

This workshop is for the people who take responsibility and start working on her mindset rather than expecting others to do.

To be an influential leader, you need to know from which mindset you are operating. To make a difference and create sustainable results, you may need to consider choosing a new mindset. That requires an increased level of self-awareness.

That will open your possibilities operating as an agile leader.

In this workshop, you learn:

  • the agile manifesto, values
  • tools, and techniques, frameworks used in an agile context

We quickly discover the tools, and methods. They give us valuable support. The challenge is the shift in mindset.

We will support you so that you will experience:

  • How you take or avoid responsibility
  • From which mindset you are operating now, what do you value?
  • What is the structure of your perception filter? Which of the beliefs and assumptions holding you back to act in line with your authentic self?
  • Which Leadership Mindset may serve you in the future and help you to align with your authentic self?
  • How to nurture your self-awareness?

Attention: during the workshop, we challenge your ego. At the end of the workshop, you will identify ways to follow and challenges to learn and grow. The seminar will change your whole perspective on your life and leadership style.

To have a long-lasting change, we will follow up and support you for the next 4-6 weeks at no additional costs.

Now it is time to stop seeing the cause and needed change outside. Start seeing the “change” in you and take the opportunity to form a new mindset by increasing your awareness.

We will use role plays, case studies, and practice with a variety of scenarios to make this session pragmatic, and immediately applicable.

How to support teams to build the desired culture

As we know that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” the same way we believe that “culture” can also do things which supports the strategy.

We do this support when we have a dialog about the culture we desire. Our culture ideally should be supportive the strategy so that we can move towards our vision and fulfill our mission.

This dialog is best done when we build new teams, or an existing team starts reflecting their values and desired values.

The good news is that almost everyone I am talking to gave me information about their value finding sessions and agreed on values. The values are written on walls or put on post-its and made visible on desks.

This activity is valuable and necessary. We believe in that having found the values will create a new culture.

Challenges in culture building

Even if everyone is aware of the desired culture and supporting values, almost every team and organization have problems to make it real.

There are three main challenges why teams or organizations fail to create a new culture:

  1. Lack of personal commitment to change: Most team members are not aware of what are the personal and professional benefits of transformation. Since this is not there the willingness and personal commitment to change stays at a level, which cannot have the expected impact.
  2. Missing courage and discipline to behave differently: New culture means new behavior. We cannot expect a different culture by acting the same way. Acting in a new way requires courage since we most probably have to leave our so-called comfort zone.
  3. Non-compliant cultural environment: If the overarching culture does not allow nurturing a new one then there will be almost no chance to build a new culture. In this case, we may talk about a non-compliant culture.

 

Culture is built when new values are in action

As the team has a task to accomplish and deliver a valuable outcome, the team should not forget to know that this is achieved when the desired culture is nurtured at the same time. In other words, the team handles the tasks or delivers results only because of it has lived and cultivated the new culture.  The group acts with the awareness that the original power of our behaviors is in the new values.

 

Here is one way of doing it

To see the values in action, we should have regular dialogs about our behavior, actions and decisions and their link to values.

Here are the steps for a “dialog about our values in action” (2-3 hours session) (adapted from Get Connected from Barrett Values Centre)

  1. Inform your team about the purpose and objective of the dialog
  2. Prepare a Flipchart with the values of the team (in a circle or a triangle)
  3. Ask each team member writing down on post-its the most exciting 3 “wow” moments in day to day work
  4. Invite team members to present and talk about their “moments” of excitement and let them put the post-its in relevance to the value. The idea is to see the connection between the actions and values.
  5. Nurture the dialog, so that the team members get more and more aware of the link between value and behavior. Ask open questions. The process is the key here not the result.
  6. Have a short break
  7. Now ask each team member writing down on post-its the most upsetting three moments in day to day work
  8. Invite team members to present and talk about their “moments” of being upset and let them put the post-its in relevance to the value. Being upset is mostly related to an unmet need or not “respected” value. The idea is to see the connection between the actions and values.
  9. Nurture the dialog, so that the team members get more and more aware of the link between value and behavior. Ask open questions. What was missing? Which value was not respected? The process is the key here not the result.
  10. Invite the team to choose 3-5 from those “upsetting” moments and have a dialog about “wanted” and “unacceptable” behavior.
  11. Close the session with awareness on working on the new culture repeat this course as needed within 4-6 weeks.

This exercise increases team cohesion.

With commitment, discipline and awareness we can help teams to create the desired culture.

You may give it a try. Enjoy!

ListeningWhy listening makes you a better leader and increases the self-confidence our your colleagues, empowers your teams?

Let us imagine that someone is coming to us with a problem.

And we are listening.

What may happen with us is to check in our database/thoughts (values, beliefs, experiences..) whether we had a similar problem as she and what were the consequences of that issue in our case. Everything that she says is internally interpreted, evaluated by us.

With this information, we get very much involved in the conversation, and we sympathize with her.

This moment can be a good sign for not listening. Yes, this is not listening”; it is the start of dealing with yourself, with our thoughts.  If the problem is not fitting into our „list“ of „advice“ we get irritated. The irritation comes from fear, and we feel out of control.

What is out of control?

So, what to do not to fall into the trap of „being out of control“?

  1. Create an intention to be curious.
  2. Be courageous to explore new territories.
  3. and, „see“ that you are at no time out of control, since there is NO control at all

What do we do when we listen?

  1. We listen what she says,
  2. We listen to the tone of what she says,
  3. We listen to our heart, body what it means, without judging

We do this by letting go of the desire to stabilize, control the life, which is continuously changing.

This way of listening supports your colleague. She sees the problem with clarity, which gives her more confidence to solve it. She gains more trust towards you as a leader.

You as a leader have proven again your trust to your colleague, that she can solve problems and by listening you have learned a lot more about yourself as a leader.

You have extended your new areas to discover.

„Great leader has great teams“ is no more an illusion once your intention is stronger than your fear.