The trouble with Authentic Leadership

I had a meeting last week about coaching, the individual had recently been appointed to a leadership position in a large organisation, but were struggling with “Impostor Syndrome” in showing leadership in the prevailing organisational culture.

What this conversation and potentially the coaching relates to is a highly authentic individual struggling to self identify as a leader in a highly “boss style” culture.

I am increasingly of the belief that many, perhaps even most leaders are in fact authentic, but due to the prevailing culture and a lack of support, training or understanding, they show up as boss style leaders.

Let me explain.

Boss style leaders are those who are primarily motivated by status.  They get their status conferred on them from above and are loyal to those who give them status.  They, in turn, gain loyalty by conferring status on those below them.  Boss style leaders are not good at collaborating unless it helps to build their status or that of their own boss.  Boss style leaders are good at getting things done, but they only achieve results by stealing from the future.

Authentic leaders are those primarily motivated by purpose they create results by aligning teams and getting the best out of people by creating an environment where they can be the best version of themselves.  They create environments of psychological safety and trust where it is safe to experiment and be vulnerable.  Authentic leaders can take longer to achieve things, but the results are sustainable.

Boss style leaders don’t recognise authentic leaders as leaders at all.  They see them as weak.

So – if you are, at heart an authentic style leader, but all of your role models are boss style, it is not surprising if you don’t think of yourself as a leader.  It is also not surprising if, in the absence of alternative input and appointed to a leadership position, a natural, but uncertain authentic leader would adopt boss style behaviours, especially if other bosses around them dismissed authentic leadership as weak.

Our path to authentic leadership is therefore challenging.  In many places the existing leadership culture is actively resistant to it, there are few role models and it is not always easy to find teachers.

What helps is to focus on purpose.  What is it that you are really trying to achieve – your vision?  And why is that important to you – your purpose?

As long as your purpose can be aligned to that of your organisation you can lead authentically in it.  The next step is to think about how you need to be in order to deliver on that purpose and vision.

As long as you can get your team to follow, this forms the basis of your leadership – the “why” and the “what” with the behavioural part of the “how”.  This is the framework that you need to embody and keep explaining – What, we are trying to achieve.  Why, is it important.  How, we need to be in order to deliver it.  As the leader you don’t need to be the author of any of this, but you do need to make sure it is clear and that the team are aligned around it.

The team can then work out  and own the mechanics of the strategy to achieve it.  While you, as the leader encourage, stay out of the way, provide “air cover” and look out for the future.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in authenticity, Leadership | Leave a comment

Seven Steps to story telling for influence

We were working with two senior leaders in an organisation recently.  One of these leaders inspired loyalty and appeared to be able to influence change whenever required.  The other had an apparently disciplined team, however whenever they would try to create change it would be met with resistance and disquiet.

What  was it that marked out the difference in their approach and lead to the difference in results?

There is a common misconception that positions of authority, such as management or leadership confer control.

They don’t.

Control is an illusion.

Think about it.  Who, the world, do we have the most control over?

Ourselves.

Do we really have control over ourselves? What we eat, what we think, how much exercise we do?  If we don’t have control over ourselves, how could we possibly have control over others?

At best we have influence.  It is true that people in positions of authority can have a great deal of influence.  Anyone who was successful at school (most people who work in large organisations are selected because they were successful at school) are strongly programmed to conformity and obedience.  Success at school is still heavily dependent on waiting to be told what to do by a teacher and then doing what the teacher asks, without question.  (This is not good for learning initiative or leadership.)

So, certainly in organisations which recruit those who were successful at school there is the potential to influence behaviour.  However many attempts at influencing changes in behaviour fail – why?

We  tend to move towards what we love and away from what we fear.  We can use both to influence although love is usually a more sustainable and powerful motivator than fear.

Crucially we are seldom influenced by purely rational information.  We are much more likely to be influenced by a combination of emotional and rational elements.  Storytelling is the model for influencing that is as old as humanity and yet we very often forget to use it in organisational situations.

Here are seven steps to story telling for organisational influence:

1 – Who is your audience?  Be very clear about who you need to influence.  What are their drivers.  What are the choices they have already made in life?  Where do they live?  What did they study?  What hobbies or interests do they have?  In some cases it will be an individual in other cases a group.  Sometimes you will be able to do your research and actually answer these questions in others you will have to make educated guesses.  The exercise is to build up a profile of the individual or type of individual you seek to influence so that you can tailor the story to their hot buttons.

2 – What outcome are you looking for?  Be as specific as you can be about the changes in behaviour or thinking that you want people or individuals to make as a result of hearing the story.

3 – Get very clear on the context.  Why does this change need to happen?  What will happen if the change is not made?  What will happen if it works really well?  What are the vision (destination) and purpose of the change?  What, specifically, is the change you believe is needed?

4 – What are the relevant examples, metaphors or analogies that turn this from a message into a story?  For many of us brought up on a diet of left brain thinking this is the difficult bit.  How can you bring this to life in a way that your target audience will connect with?  Think about examples from your own experience, from history, fiction, sports or any where else that might fit it.  Prioritise analogies that appeal to your audience rather than yourself.

5 – Get clear about your own role.  In classic storytelling language are you the hero, the villain or the guardian?  Are you there to save the day, to bring bad news or protect?  How can you demonstrate or communicate your own challenges and commitment to the change?  How can you show vulnerability and therefore build trust?

6 – Build the story.   Put these components together into a compelling and inspiring story.  Avoid jargon and be sure to use sensory words that connect at an emotional level – like passion, nurture, care, love.

7 – Practice.  Stories are always more engaging when they flow well and appear natural.  If you are not a practiced storyteller, practice.  Tell the same story to as many individuals as you can before you share it with your intended audience.

Remarkably a video of one of the very best business leaders telling a story at the point where he really matured as a visionary integral leader exists and it is well worth watching.  Notice how he starts by communicating his own commitment.  Notice how he avoids blaming the audience and how he delivers a message of a shocking level of change in a way that inspires.

The difference between the two leaders at the beginning of this story?  The former routinely used stories, the latter was hyper rational and tried to use his positional authority.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Calling all Authentic Integral Leaders

Humanity is in a pretty challenging space right now.  We face genuinely existential threats from climate change and other environmental damage, that we have created and yet we continue to focus more on what divides us that what could unite us.

Our crisis is one of leadership.  Do we continue to train, elect, select and promote leaders motivate the worst in us and divide us, or do we choose different leaders, those who inspire the best in us and unite us?

Any crisis gets as deep as it needs to get for people to learn the lesson.

We only have the possibility to transcend or succumb to any challenge – until we don’t anymore.

If humanity is to transcend the crisis of our wilful destruction of our life supporting biosphere we have to start training, electing, selecting and promoting a very different kind of leader.

Our desire to avoid personal responsibility leads us to choosing leaders who promise that they know the answers to the problems that really matter and that they are the ones to solve them.  Inevitably this means that the problems we end up addressing, with varying levels of success, are simple and the proposed solutions are short term.  Generally these solutions themselves steal from the future and thus create more problems than they solve.

Whereas the real problems we face are “wicked problems”, solutions are complex and multifaceted and require large scale alignment and behaviour change to solve.

Most of the leaders we tend to choose are not competent to solve these problems so they distract our attention onto seemingly solvable issues like immigration or religious differences.  Even articulating these things as problems is counter productive, but it gets them elected.

Humanity is like a species in it’s teens, just wanting to focus on our own gangs and pleasure, unwilling to even consider the long term.  We urgently need to grow up.

Consistent with these being wicked problems we don’t know the solution, but we do know the answer.

The answer is universal integral authentic leaders.  A massive upgrade in leadership across all areas of society – education, business, public services, charities, government, military, science and religion.

Authentic leadership  means knowing yourself and being it skilfully in all situations AND empowering followers by creating the kind of psychological safety that enables them to be authentic too.

Integral leadership means inspiring followers by honouring all life and the past and future.

Authentic Integral leadership aligns us to solve wicked problems that might imperil the future of life, by inspiring the best in us and using the lessons from history.

The irony for those who would seek enrichment by the conventional means of extraction or exploitation is that the potential from an authentic integral approach is far higher.  Businesses that use the authentic integral approach create value for the future (rather than stealing from it) and therefore have the potential to generate sustained success.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com,

PS – We at Holos have always take protection of data and privacy very seriously. We hold only your names and email addresses on this list which is held on AWeber and WordPress servers.

Only Neil has access to this list and we would never share this list with anyone for any purpose.

The list exists only to communicate with subscribers usually to send the Magic Monday emails.

Every email that we send you contains the option at the bottom to update your preferences or to unsubscribe – this is compliant with the requirements of GDPR.

We hope that you are OK with this, if you have any questions or concerns about the way that we hold your data or what we do with it, please let us know or click on the links below to update your data or unsubscribe.

Best

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in authenticity, Business, Leadership | Leave a comment

Keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs.

Hello and Happy New Year.  I found 2017 a challenging year.  I hope very much that 2018 can be better at the global level.  Climate Change seems to me to be an existential threat for humanity and yet we create political psychodrama side shows to distract us from the real challenges.  It would be great if, during 2018, we can come up with an improved version of political governance that enables us to run our countries (specifically the US and UK) for the long term security and benefit of all life.  Perhaps a system where our best minds are attracted to government and are deployed effectively to work out optimal solutions would be something to aim for?.

To start at the most granular level.  If we seek sustained success as individuals, as teams, as organisations or indeed as countries the key factor is what Google calls “Psychological Safety”.  Psychological Safety is what enables us all to be at our best and to collaborate most effectively, to be authentic.  Enabling us to be reliable in doing what we say we will do as well as being innovative and creative.  This is particularly important to success in times of fast paced change.

To do this we have to accept that control is an illusion, most of us have a hard enough time controlling our bodies, let alone other people or the situations we find ourselves in and to control our bodies we would first have to have control of our minds.  That leaves us with influence and the person we have most influence over is ourself and we have greater self influence when we have psychological safety than when we don’t, so we must start there.

The first steps in creating psychological safety are self awareness and emotional regulation.  By self awareness I mean both knowing ourself, our core motivations, the ways in which we are different and similar to others and also on a moment by moment basis, being aware of our emotional state.

Articulating our core motivations by truly understanding what is important to us and why is a good base.  We can work on this, articulating personal purpose, vision and values, on our own or with help from friends or a coach.  To understand where we are on various spectra (such as introversion to extroversion or attitudes to change for example) psychological profiling tools such as FIRO B, Change Style Indicator or Strength Deployment Inventory and there are many more, are useful to help us create a composite picture of how we fit in to society.

To be aware of our emotional state in the moment takes practice.  Like most things it is easy when things are relaxed and harder (and also more important) when the pressure is on. We can start by noticing our emotional state and putting language to it.  Noticing when you are calm or when you are agitated.  When you feel relaxed or when you feel anxious.  When things are relaxed you can probably do this in the moment already, when the pressure is on you may start by describing your state after the event.

The benefits come when we can identify our state in the moment when the pressure is on and choose what to do about it.  It is that ability to choose that will enable us to create our own psychological safety.

With our ability to create our own psychological safety, most of the time, comes our ability to be authentic, to be the very best version of ourselves, to be ourselves skilfully in a way that creates psychological safety for those around us and enables them to be authentic too.

Feeling psychologically safe and having those around us feel the same way, might seem like a bit of a first world luxury in a dynamic, fast paced environment, but look at it this way.  If we are leading a team or a business or a country, part of the role is to take decisions.  Every decision is a bit of a gamble, but the better the data we work with the greater the chances of success.  The more psychologically safe people feel the more likely we are to be transparent and honest.  The more transparent we are the better the quality of the data we share.  To put it bluntly if we are scared we are more likely to lie or adjust the data to protect ourselves, than if we don’t.

Our emotional state is a dynamic thing and however good we are at regulating our emotional state there will be times when we feel less psychologically safe and sometimes this is good and exciting.  Some of our best and most intense moments come when we are a bit on the edge.   I am not advocating for some kind of bland emotional neutrality.  Rather for us as individuals and those around us to always have the choice to be psychologically safe when we want to.  It is this choice that makes it safe for us to push the boundaries with innovations and creativity and it is innovation and creativity that is required to make the world a better place for all inhabitants.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

Posted in authenticity, Leadership, personal development, society | Leave a comment

Wishing you all a very jolly Yule

Last week I did a talk for 80 bankers.

What image does that bring to mind?

We all have prejudices, biases, preconceived ideas and generalisations we apply to each other.  Some are just plain wrong and others are out of date.

With this particular group of bankers I was talking about the future and about the need for authentic leadership to create an environment of psychological safety and trust.  In fact virtually everyone in the room other than me was wearing a Christmas jumper and the atmosphere was very relaxed, open and engaged.

It was not so long ago that corporations in general and perhaps banks and oil companies in particular, were seen by many as a sort of global Grinch, exploiting everyone for their own ends.  While there was some truth in that, many of these organisations have learned tough lessons and today are seeing that the best results are delivered by people who feel trusted and who feel safe to be themselves.

Amid all of the evidence of sexual harassment and abuse in politics, entertainment and tech sectors these stories are not really coming from more conventional corporations.   Today these corporations are hotbeds of diversity and empowerment.  Of course there is still room to learn and improve, but the shift over the last 10 years has been substantial.

The key to success in any endeavour is collaboration and the key to collaboration is being able to build trusting and supportive relationships with those who are different to ourselves, those we might find a little annoying or those we might be tempted to exploit.

In this season of goodwill to all, how can each of us create that authentic safe space around us where everyone feels free to be their authentic self?  How can we hold our families, friends,colleagues and most importantly ourselves to complete inclusivity?

One of the tensions of “liberalism” is the intent to be tolerant of all views and to give all of them equal air time.  However, I read an interesting perspective recently, which is that the only thing it is right to not tolerate is intolerance.  If we want a community, society or world where everyone feels psychologically safe, we must all be intolerant of intolerance.  We must take it upon ourselves to call out bias, prejudice, abuse and bullying.  We must learn the skills to do this effectively and we must work hard on our own biases and prejudices.

Perhaps a good way to start is by identifying one person in our circle that we fail to include equally.  I am sure we all have one. And making a deliberate and consistent effort to include them.  Not just for the next few weeks, but all of the time.

Or perhaps there is someone in our circle who says or does things that make other people feel uncomfortable about themselves and maybe you can find a way to help them to understand the effects of their behaviour and help them to change it, skilfully.

Or perhaps you feel that you are excluded of find it difficult to be yourself in some situations.  Perhaps you can find a way to express your truth to those you feel excluded by or focus your time on environments where you feel safe and are included.

Over the last few years we have seen the effects of polarisation on the global stage.  If we do not want to live in a polarised world is is up to all of us to create an integral one.  We wish all of our readers and colleagues the most joyful and peaceful festive season and every happiness however you choose to celebrate.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

Posted in authenticity, society | Leave a comment

Great Leadership 101

One of the most needed skills at the moment in both business and government is leadership.  In more stable times management tends to be prioritised because management delivers reliability.  In stable times leadership is often annoying as leadership is fundamentally about change, so it is de-prioritised.  Also leadership is seldom encouraged at schools as it often perceived to challenge the authority of teachers.

There are myths around leadership: That it is an appointment, that leaders are born, the “loneliness of leadership”, leadership is hierarchical.

There are errors in our approach to leadership, for example having people specialise in operational tasks for the first 10 years of their career and then expecting them to be able to lead others in their operational speciality.

Over decades these factors have combined to mean that there is a very widespread lack of competent leadership in society.  In fact the only place in our society that takes leadership seriously is the Military, partly by offering real leadership experience from a young age.  So let’s debunk some myths and build our understanding of the nature of leadership.

Leadership is a skill that has to be learned, it is not something we are born with.  All of the best leaders that you will ever meet have worked hard at it.  The myth that leaders are born comes from the fact that “Boss Style” leaders are by far the most common in human history and that they use bullying and coercion as their primary mode of leadership, their primary motivation is their own status.  Boss Style leaders can be effective in the short term, however they only create value by stealing from the future.

The reality of leadership is that it is a choice not an appointment, that is it a skill that we deploy when change is required and that it is not hierarchical.  We all lead in that moment when we recognise the need to change something, once we have reached a point of stability we shift to management to maintain reliability, when we see someone else doing something great we might follow them, turning them into a leader.  Great leadership is dynamic, it flows to where it is most relevant in the moment, it is not fixed in an individual or a hierarchy.

Whatever style of leadership we adopt the thing that turns us into a leader is when one or more people follows us.  Boss style leaders create loyal followers by conferring status upon them, boss style leaders have their status conferred on them from “above”.  Authentic style leaders make the choice to lead and create loyal followers by pursuing a purpose that they and others believe in.

Great leadership is a complex and subtle skill that takes decades of diligent study and practice to master, however there are some core attributes that can help any of us get started on the journey to mastery, For example:

Create mental and emotional bandwidth.  Even in extreme situations we must be capable of creating the space to think strategically, to confer with stakeholders and followers and work out what the next steps are and to collaborate to execute on them.  To do this we must take responsibility for our time, continually delegating and deleting activities that don’t add value to the pursuit of the vision.

Articulate and embody a vision that inspires all stakeholders.  A vision is a memorable description of a future state that followers are inspired to achieve.  A vision is a definable destination that is beyond what we currently know how to achieve.  If we know how to achieve it, it is an objective rather than a vision. Great leaders will continually inspire followers with the ideal of the vision.

Great leaders are expert at their own emotional regulation, even in highly stressful situations or when receiving bad news they are able to compartmentalise their own emotions to stay calm and focussed, rethinking the approach to stay focussed on the vision.

Related to our own emotional regulation is a focus on creating a culture of  psychological safety.  Psychological safety is that experience when we feel completely comfortable being ourselves, sharing ideas even if they are different and raising concerns even if they have consequences.   Teams and cultures which experience psychological safety are proven to out perform other teams (See Google’s Project Aristotle).   Only authentic style leaders create an environment of psychological safety by making it safe for everyone in the team to also be authentic.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Get out of crisis in 5 steps

We have worked with many individuals teams and organisations that are in crisis.  Sometimes the crisis is public, corporate and unavoidable.  Sometimes they are subtle, drawn out and unrecognised.  Sometimes they feel personal, individual and lonely.  Within all of this and acknowledging the personal trauma involved there are two truths about crisis that are worth understanding before we start:

1 – Any crisis will get precisely as deep as deep as it needs to get for those involved to learn the lessons required to solve it.

2 – Any crisis provides the alternatives to transcend or succumb.  In most cases it is the choices we make that decide which we do.

Crisis is one of the areas where leadership emerges.  Those who choose to step in and take responsibility in a crisis, define themselves as leaders.  However simply being good at leading in a crisis is not great leadership.  Being good in a crisis can lead to “pyromaniac firefighter syndrome” where people deliberately create crisis, for the buzz and satisfaction of getting out of it.  This is not the way to sustained success.  Sustained success demands not only the skill to lead out of crisis, but also the skill to lead innovation, growth and development.

Below is a simple playbook for those who would choose to lead themselves, a team or an organisation out of crisis.

Step 1 – Declare a crisis 

One of the most powerful steps we can take is to acknowledge that we are in a crisis.  Sometimes this is not necessary, the crisis is so dramatic that no one is in any doubt.  Far more crises are stealthy, they creep up on us, until we find we are struggling to cope.  Without a declaration of crisis, those involved are all dealing with the stress and anxiety in isolation, and we will all pull in different directions focussed on solving our own personal inner conflict. Once crisis is declared we can all pull together.

Psychologically there are 3 stages of conflict. Stage one is the kind of day to day conflict we might experience every week, at stage one we are able to care for the others involved in the crisis, the problem itself and ourselves.  Stage two conflict is the kind of conflict most of us only experience once a year or so, at stage two we can only take care of the problem and ourselves, we loose sight of those around us.  Stage three conflict is the sort of extreme conflict we might only experience a few times in our life, at stage three we lose sight of others and the problem and can only care for ourselves.

If a team are already in stage two conflict, they have already lost sight of each other.  We often see teams where everyone has been in stage two conflict for some time.  Collaboration to solve the problem cannot occur while everyone is in stage two crisis.  If this is the case the first thing to do is for everyone in the team to acknowledge the crisis, realising that we are all in the same crisis (usually) brings us together.

Step 2 – Create Bandwidth

Crisis is a state where our emotions take over, even more than normal.  Depending on our personality, our emotions will drive us to do different things to solve the problem.  Some will be driven to take action, some will withdraw to assess the situation, some will need to check in on the feelings of others or bring the team together.  Each of these drivers can be valid and helpful responses, however if they are pursued in isolation they will irritate those who react differently. For example, someone whose reaction is to get into action will be frustrated by someone who prioritises assessing the situation and vice versa.

After the very initial phase of a crisis we must move from reaction to response.  To do this we must create the mental and emotional space to think, both individually and collectively.  Having declared the crisis, we must now put other things aside and just create the space.  This works at an individual level when something threatening occurs and we need to respond rather than react as well as at a team or organisational level.

Step 3 – Create a Vision

Perhaps running a visioning session in the middle of a crisis is a bit of a stretch, but the word crisis comes from the Greek “krisis” meaning “decision”.  And as the saying goes “never waste a good crisis”.  Crisis is also an opportunity to galvanise effort towards remaking a situation for the better.  What a vision gives us is a destination of hope and optimism that inspires people towards a better future and not only away from an uncomfortable present.  Without a vision there is no direction in our escape from pain other than away.  With a vision the collective effort will not just take us away from the crisis, but towards something positive, together.

The future is not fixed.  The future is always created by those with a vision and the determination to make it happen.  

A vision is a defined destination that is inspiring for all stakeholders, that is not limited by what we know how to achieve at present.  So make use of the bandwidth you have created to align the key individuals in pursuit of a future destination that all are inspired by.  Initially that might just be for everyone to get out safely, as it was for Shackleton on the ill fated  Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition of 1914.  A vision simply to escape the crisis can be powerful and motivating however as soon as the crisis abates, the vision must be revisited if you want to avoid the team or organisation splintering.

Step 4 – Create and curate the culture

Having started with something as ambitious as articulating a vision, we must now get into the granular detail of habits.  If you managed to get the team to work through a vision, most of them now will be raggedly impatient, desperate to get into action and get away from the crisis.  Any leadership will be tested at this point to keep the team focussed on a more abstract approach to solving the crisis, so this is where leadership really counts.

In many cases it is our habits and behaviours that get us into crisis in the first place.  If we escape from crisis and avoid splintering as a team and we have not changed our habits, it is only a matter of time before we get into crisis again.  It will also take good habits and behaviours to get us out of the crisis.

For example, we can agree how we are going to:  communicate,  care for each other, check in on progress, listen  and so on.

Step 5 – Small steps

Having dealt with the arcane we must now get practical agreeing small and very doable steps for each member of the team.  One or two steps at a time – no grand plans – just simple doable things.  As soon as the actions are complete the team needs to regroup and quickly agree the next set of actions using the protocols agreed in stage 4 and always in pursuit of the vision agreed in stage 3.

Keep repeating this cycle as frequently as is needed until the sense of crisis abates.    Be aware that as soon as the crisis diminishes, you may need to come up with a new vision, before you achieve the previous one.

Crisis crews. like firefighters already have protocols for stages 1 to 4, which is what enables them to be effective in a crisis.  If we don’t have these already we need to create them in order to succeed.

Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

You can subscribe for free at http://www.holoschange.com

neil

Neil Crofts
Co-Founder
Holos

+447803 774239
neil@holoschange.com
http://www.holoschange.com

 

Posted in Business, Leadership, personal development | Leave a comment