A few months ago, I began working with a manager in a medium-sized organisation. She had been promoted to the role about a year ago and although passionate and committed, had been challenged in bringing the team together and empowering them to consistently achieve their KPI's.
This team fed into all other arms of the business and due to the gaps in performance, other teams had created costly workarounds to overcompensate.
The senior leadership team were frustrated with each other, their people were stressed, some were deeply resentful, others ineffective and even active in negatively impacting others.
While the senior leaders got along, trust in each other to own their roles was low.
A DECISION TO LEAN IN
I did some work with the senior leadership group, several subsequent coaching sessions with each of the senior leaders, and a deeper dive with the manager I mentioned earlier, who was struggling the most.
What impressed me about this woman was her decision to prove everyone wrong and build a successful team, one that would be recognised as the best in the business.
People were doubting her, some of her team had 'checked out' mentally even though they were showing up physically. But she was adamant to succeed. She had a powerful vision. She didn't yet know how it was going to be fulfilled, but she was willing to step into the work with courage.
3 LITTLE WORDS OF LEADERSHIP
When I'm working with leaders, my framework can be summed up in three words...
Accountability to their own role and learning how to hold others accountable in ways that build trust.
Collaboration with their colleagues at the senior leadership table, role-modelling how they want their people to interact and empowering their teams to do the same.
Creating a vision for themselves and their team that inspires Alignment in everyone, drawing them forward into new thinking and courageous action.
This kind of culture is built on trust.
To create a trust culture, a leader must do the work of self-reflection to understand what's missing in their skills, abilities, communication, understanding, management and leadership such that their team is not performing.
It's a 100% responsibility distinction.
It's challenging work because it's much easier to blame...other people, other business functions, circumstances, time, workload, the past...the list goes on. But these low-level conversations keep people stuck, performing in the same way, making excuses for why things are the way they are, resulting in the business slowing down, talent leaving and gaps widening.
CROSSING THE CHASM
This woman did the work of crossing the chasm, drawn by her clear and compelling vision, willing to be imperfect, vulnerable and grow.
I asked her to do things she was scared to do: take 100% ownership of her results (even if she thought it was outside her control), have conversations she'd never had before, present to her team in new ways, and engage them in her vision in a way she never had before.
She learned to empower her people where before they had resisted, she opened herself and so her team began to reconnect and open their minds. She did everything I asked her to do and the results started to turn.
- Meaningful and measurable results improved
- Her senior leadership colleagues reported differences in the support provided to their teams
- Trust was being restored 360 degrees
- The team began to fully own their roles and results.
She continued the work and is now beginning to build high performance momentum. There is a way to go, there are challenges ahead, but in her ownership, confidence, awareness and skills, she is equipped for the journey.
At the end of our work together she said something incredibly powerful, insightful and honest...
"Before this work I thought I deserved the manager position, like I was entitled to it. Now, I know I've earned it, I own it."
I am in absolute agreement. She did the work and transitioned from a 'victim' mindset to a 'leader' mindset.
An extraordinary metamorphosis to witness.
Beginning with 3 little words.