A Blind Spot in Leadership and Organizational Development

Your leadership and enterprise will only grow as far as your commitment to see them grow. Organizations do not grow out of thin air. It takes effort, great effort. You can never be a great leader without great effort.

It is folly, to say the least, to expect a return where there has not been an investment. You cannot be a great enterprise or leader without a commitment to do what it takes. Leaders that embrace this truth intentionally create ways to grow themselves and their teams.

These leaders have put in place measures to grow themselves and other leaders. They seek out growth opportunities such as conferences and workshops to be challenged.

They are constantly asking questions on how they can get better and are open to be challenged by those in their organization and the ones their organizations serve to be better.

(Great organizations have leaders that listen to those they serve with and those the organization serves.) It is a great feat, if not impossible, to grow an enterprise without growing its leadership.

blind spot in leadership and organisation development
you cannot have organizational growth without leadership growth

Change for Growth

While enterprises work to grow their leaders they often overlook one critical blind-spot. Many leaders and organizations often make the mistake of challenging their team without creating an environment that allows them to come challenge the organizations.

Leaders are grown and returned into an organizational environment that does not allow them to extend the same growth to the enterprise. Rules, policies and procedures sometimes stand in the way of the change that we challenge leaders to bring in organizations.

Clarity

 

Be clear about what change or growth you want to see in your organization. After you have prepared your leaders for it, you need to engage them on the implications for the organization.

Find out what things stand in the way of bringing about the change. What rules or policies will stand in the way?

Consider This

It is counterproductive to build your team to bring change in your organization and simultaneously stifle them in doing so. You constantly need to check if your organization’s environment is conducive for growth you want to bring.

Assess the alignment of the measures you take for growth with the readiness of your environment for the best return on leadership and organizational development. Be careful that you are not squaring blame on your team for growth and change that is not happening.

It could be that you have not made the rest of your organization ready for the change you want to realize. When you send your team for training are you giving them enough space to practice what they have learned? Do you trust them enough? Perhaps the issues may be that you do not trust your team enough.

However you grow or plan to grow your enterprise, make sure that it is adequately prepared and ready for the change you want to make. Growth is only possible with change.

See to it that you do not frustrate your leaders by charging them to bring growth but inhibiting them with an environment that does not allow for change.

illustration by sean macentee | (cc)

Question: what are the other blind spots in growing organizations and leaders?

Leadership Lessons From Julius Malema in Lonmin Tragedy

Being discharged as the African National Congress’ (ANC) youth leader has not stopped Julius Malema from gracing platforms on what has been dubbed the Marikana / Lonmin Tragedy. According to Mail & Guardian and News 24, Malema blamed the government for the “massacre”.

He is also said to be assembling a legal team to help free 200 arrested miners. It is a tragedy that people’s lives have been lost. I do not in anyway condone the violence and deaths. However, I am ‘intrigued’, to say the least by the (seeming) support the miners have for Julius Malema as he steps in as one of them.

There are leadership lessons from Julius Malema’s involvement in the aforementioned. (Note: I DO NOT support Malema and or his statements, I am only making observations about leadership)

leadership lessons from malema in lonmin tragedy
leadership lessons from malema in lonmin tragedy

We:

Leadership ceases when the leadership and follower chasm is created. I am not suggesting there cannot be distinction between the two, but that once a leader says lauds it over the people that he is the leader his credibility takes a knock.

Malema has ‘identified’ with the miners. You cannot effectively lead people you do not identify with. The presence of, “we’re in this together” in word or deed can be strong glue in a team.

Tribes: 

In his book, Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, Seth Godin says that people need and seek leadership. From all the reports I have read on the Lonmin tragedy there has not been one leader that has been quoted. (Perhaps it is bad reporting or I’m reading the wrong papers).

Malema shows up and voila! The miners have a “face”. The point? People need leadership and when they become aware of this respond to the first sign of leadership. Besides the “leader tittle” are you really leading?

Bold:

People respond to bold statements and vision. They will pursue something that is greater than them. Leaders must not just make bold statements but compliment them with bold action.

Those you lead will respond to bold actions because they do not like not knowing where you stand. Leader, having a clear stance that some may not like is better than being unclear on where you stand.

Communication:

You cannot be an effective leader without communication. Though not many like it, Malema communicates. He says whatever is on his mind and has no one wondering what he is thinking.

To be effective in your role as a leader, your communication must be priority. Communicate with those you lead.

Communicate with those whom your movement or cause implicates. Communicate to win those that are not part of your cause. Communicate to anyone that will listen.

Communicate to those that do not want to listen to you till they cannot ignore you. Communicate, communicate and communicate!

illustration by royblumenthal | cc 

I really would love to hear on thoughts? Leave a comment!

Where Are Your Ears

In the previous post I wrote about using feedback as a growth strategy. I ended the post by highlighting that feedback is not just about getting to know all the areas of your shortcomings; it is about listening and leveraging whatever you hear for your growth. (This post will be more helpful if you follow read it with that post.)

After reading this post I want you to be able to answer this question, “Where are your ears?” Wait, don’t answer the question until you’ve read the whole post. (Just to clear the air, this post is not about anatomy) Let me start giving you a brief story that changed my life more than any other story I heard in my teens. (This is a big claim and it is true! The story changed my life for good! Dr. Phineas Dube told me this story)

listen

where are your ears?

Once upon a time, there three adolescent frogs who enjoyed each other’s company and well, being frogs. They met like they normally did on any other day, not knowing that day was not going to be like any other they had had in the short life. It would change everything about their lives.

They played their favourite game, hop. It so happened that day, they ventured a little farther than they normally did and eventually landed in a very deep hole. They natural instinct was to do what frogs are good at; to jump. Unfortunately, the hole was too deep for their adolescent muscles to propel them out.

The commotion caught the attention of other teenage frogs who came and peered in the hole and roared their encouragement to their peers. “Jump! You can do it!”, they yelled. With the encouragement the three frogs in the hole gave their all in an attempt to jump out of the hole. Unfortunately they failed to make it.

Frogs peering into the hole soon realised that their friends were not going to be able to hop out and brought this reality to their friends’ attention. Two of the frogs were so overwhelmed with despair it killed them. The surviving frog kept leaping despite the death of his peers.The young frog got stronger with each attempt. Until, he made it.

As the exhausted wobbled home the frogs that had been at the top of the hole tried to stop him but failed to get their attention. Curiosity getting the better of them, they pursued the frog that had just managed to leap out and stood in his way to get his attention. It was at this point that they realised he was deaf.

That, in a nutshell, is the most significant story I heard in my teenage years.

Facts:

Everyone

Whether it is life or leadership, people will always have opinions about how you live and or lead. Fortunately and unfortunately, some people cannot help but articulate their opinions. You are going to hear a lot of things; what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. There are many voices that you going to hear. Some will shout from the sidelines

Pendulum

Sometimes those that encourage you will be the ones that will discourage you and vice versa. In some instances the ones that discourage you on a particular thing may be the ones to encourage you on the very same thing! Fact!

The moral of the story:

Ears

Not everyone that says something to you is worthy of your attention. Your success as a person and leader heavily depends on who you listen to. Do not listen to people that tell you what you may want to hear all the time.

Surround yourself with honest people with your interests at heart. People that are not afraid of you or of cursing your ego. Choose carefully who you listen to! Because everyone  is going to speak does not mean you have to listen. Exercise selective hearing.

Vision

Because the crowd in the stands can be easily swayed, finding motivation for your endeavours from them can be “vision homicide”. Do not base the greater part of your motivation on the volume of the cheers from the crowd; doing so will make you most unstable. Vision can be an anchor if you focus on it more than the applause and or cheer from the stands.

So, where are your ears? Have you carefully chosen who you listen to? Why do you listen to who you listen to? Have great feedback strategies but be prudent on how and why you listen. Where are your ears?!

Question: How can you determine who to and not to listen to?

illustration by Fay IIyas, (cc)

Feedback as Your Leadership Growth Strategy

Leadership is dynamic. Numerous factors affect the effectiveness of your leadership. The external environment may present challenges for growth, but growth in your leadership depends on you more than anything else.

In moving your enterprise forward embrace the fact that it is not only dealing with your external environment that will give you the edge, but yourself. To beat adverse circumstances a leader must not only focus on the circumstances per se, but on growing himself.

Leader, the level of maturity of your leadership depends on no one but you. Instead of beating the outside factors affecting your enterprise negatively, focus on growing yourself as a leader. Some leaders fail because they never focus on getting better as people and leaders. It is important that you embrace feedback as your leadership growth strategy.

feedback listen

feedback is a tool that can be used for growing yourself as a leader

 

Leaders who never get and or accept honest feedback about their leadership are guaranteed to fail. Getting honest feedback when it comes to areas of possible growth is not always an easy thing, yet helps makes you, leader, better.

When was the last time you asked for honest feedback on your leadership from your colleagues, those that serve under you and your superiors? If people, especially your colleagues, hardly give you any feedback, have you considered why? Do you have any systems and indicators that serve as feedback about your leadership?

Not only focus on building a feedback system for processes in your organisation but also focus building a feedback system that gives honest feedback about your leadership. I am not suggesting a means of making leadership a punching bag but one where leadership can hear what is important to better themselves as leaders and ultimately their enterprise.

How you can build a feedback system:

Your Team 

One of the best sources of feedback are those who serve under you. Most leaders default to being guarded. Being vulnerable, is necessary to get feedback from those you lead. In a controlled environment, engage your team to find out what you could do to lead them better.

Being vulnerable will also challenge your team to vulnerability and more open to feedback. If you model it, your team will follow. Some of the questions (not comprehensive) you could use:

What do you think I could do to better serve you?
What do you feel I do well?
What would you do differently if you were in my seat?
What do you feel I need to start, stop and continue doing?
How can I help you do your job better

Close to You

One of the most significant things I’ve done is marry Ingrid. Being close to someone does not only allow you to know others better, but yourself as well. There are things that Ingrid points out and can say that not many people can. Also, she has pointed out things about myself very few people have. Take a poll in your household or among your closest friends.

Create a platform where they can be honest with you and you will be surprised how well they know you and what you can learn about yourself.

The Point

With all the above out of the way, I need to point out that feedback does not mean finding out the negative only. Good feedback is honest with what you are doing well and possible areas of growth.

Feedback is not a stick that you use to beat yourself, but a tool or platform to better yourself. Without feedback as your leadership growth strategy you will fail. Therefore, embrace what you are doing well and figure out ways of doing it even better. Let the possible areas of growth be a reminder and celebration that you can be a great leader.

The first step to becoming a great leader is being aware of areas of possible growth. The second, seeing them as enablers and not obstacles. Third, acting on them. 

[image by Orange_Beard | cc]

Question: What other measures can leaders take in building effective feedback system for their growth?

What Having Different Perspectives In A Team Means

Having different perspectives in a team means a lot of things. People will never always see the same. Resolution on a particular matter is not the same as having the same perspectives. You can reach consensus by working through differing perspectives. With different perspectives being inevitable, it is worth exploring what having different perspectives in a team means:

Continue reading “What Having Different Perspectives In A Team Means”