• Leaders: Is growing and developing people in your DNA?

    Date: 2012.02.02 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 1

    The start of a year is often the time for reflection on what’s working/not working in our leadership practice. Ronald Heifetz in his work, ‘The Practice of Adaptive Leadership,'(2009) talks to the current ‘zeitgeist’ of turbulent times and need for bold ideas and innovation by providing the following definition :-

    ”Adaptive Leadership is the practice of mobilising people to tackle tough challenges and thrive”.

    He draws, I think very helpfully on evolutionary biology where a successful adaptation has 3 characterisitics:-

    • it preserves the DNA essential for survival of a species
    • it discards the DNA that no longer serves the species needs
    • it creates DNA arrangements that enable the species to develop, thrive in new ways and  in more challenging environments
    Leaders  in organisations he argues, have to assess and analyse the organisational DNA in the same way. What do we absolutely need to keep and honour which is core to the purpose of the organisation and fundamental to its survival? What habits and practices are no longer serving us well and we should leave behind to grow and thrive in the current climate?  What are the one or two different ways we need to be and act in order to safeguard the future and thrive not just survive!
    If we apply this to our own everyday practice of growing our own talent and creating the right kind of practices, experiences and opportunities for others, what do we need to cherish and continue to nurture, what habits do we need to change and stop doing and what new practices do we need to develop and prioritise? How do we ensure that growing and developing people is truly in our DNA?
    The 5th -12 th February is International Coaching Week. This is an opportunity for you to get into dialogue with colleagues, to personally reflect and ask these questions to find out views on the one or two fundamental changes  necessary to transform practice (yours and theirs ) to bring out the best in people.
    As part of International Coaching Week I (http://geniusmaker.wordpress.com/ ) will be joining with my colleagues Mike Green, Transitional Space ( http://changets.wordpress.com/ and Rajwant Bains, RKB Consultancy (http://rkbconsultancy.com/?cat=3 )and blogging on a daily basis Monday to Friday on a coaching related theme. We are passionate about the power of coaching to enhance personal effectiveness, improve organisational performance and transform leadership and will share some ideas on how we can all tap into this powerful resource. 
  • Leaders – Keep the bar high

    Date: 2011.11.29 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 1

    I am always reminded of a conversation  with a colleague where she was asking me to help her think through a particular problem and propose some options. Having reflected and offered up a couple of possibilities she thanked me and said ‘ but I am sure there is more you could offer up’ and after a little more reflection I came up with  another idea, improving on the first offerings. As I sat back thinking I had really worked my brain, she looked at me as if to say ‘are you sure ? and I came back with yet another , much better and one which we both felt yes, that was it!

    Anne is that colleague who always seems to bring out the best in me and  others and  multiplies talent wherever she works. Multipliers understand that people grow through challenge, they seek to provoke different thinking in others and set in motion multiple processes  of discovery.  They demand the best effort from those that they work with. They do this in a way which enables the challenge to be heard and encourages individuals to stretch and push themselves beyond their previous limits.

    They work with the assumption that people’s best thinking must be given, not taken. They also understand to to get people’s best thinking  they need to provide opportunities for people to undertake safe to fail experiments, make and learn from mistakes and produce new thinking as a result.

    How often do  you ask people whether what they are giving is their best work ? Do you hold the bar high enough for each individual? How well do you celebrate their successes? How do you help them learn and recover from mistakes?

    Does the future look brighter?

  • Leaders: Your ‘5’ a day to Multiplier Health

    Date: 2011.11.23 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 2

    In my last blog I talked about the way we can accidently diminish other people’s talent. I then got to thinking what would be the ‘five’ fruit and veg equivalents  a day  to restore the balance and get us back on track for ‘Multiplier’ (as in Multipliers of talent) health. So here are some top contenders:-

    • Stop talking and really listen . Create room for others to think and fill in the gaps (and embrace the fact their thinking may well get ahead of our own)
    • Thrash things out early on, debate robustly, ask the questions so everyone has clarity on what needs to be achieved and are focused on achieving the results. (Instead of waiting too close to the deadline to say this is not really what is needed , do a mini thrashing out and  eventually taking the work back to do yourself)
    • Use your presence where it has the greatest potency and impact to support individuals (and in a way that does not remove their accountability)
    • Be bold and fearless in challenging the team to offer up its best thinking. (Don’t accept the mediocre, keep the ambition high)
    • Play to your own talents, own them, offer them, use them (don’t play small)
    So what would your five a day be? Once identified, set yourself the challenge over the next 30 days to practice these. Share them with your team and get feedback! Your team might have some interesting feedback on what your top 5 should be! 
    Reflection point: What is changing in your practice? How many more problem solvers are stepping forward to work on your  challenges, what new knowledge are you beginning to build for you and your team? Does the future look brighter?
  • Leaders – How we get in the way of others’ talent!

    Date: 2011.10.30 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 6

    My last post  talked about the difference between leaders as diminishers and leaders as multipliers of talent.  The good news is that we all have it in ourselves to become multipliers of talent. It is first and foremost a question of mindset!  Many of us however in our quest to become multipliers suffer from time to time from what Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown ( Multipliers – how the best leaders make everyone smarter) call ‘ the accidental diminisher ‘syndrome. We have the intent of a multiplier but find ourselves acting in ways which diminish talent. Put quite simply we get in the way of others’ talent!

    There are many ways in which we can do this ! Here are a sample:-

    • talking too much in meetings
    •  asking the ‘clever’ questions
    • raising eyebrows when hearing a proposal
    • keeping people locked into specific roles because they deliver well and not listening out for their real gift or passion
    • sapping the energy out of a conversation by fine tuning ad nauseum
    • allowing others to dominate
    • stepping into roles and spaces too quickly because you can, instead of leaving space for others to step up
    • denying resourcefulness of others by maintaining your way of doing things
    • doing the thinking
    • not addressing blockages to talent, including other people or red tape
    • having a limited perception on what the individual, the team, the organisation can  achieve

    So how do YOU get in the way of others’ talent?

    Identify one of the ways in which you stray into accidental diminisher mode. By continuing to act in this way what does it cost you, your team and the organisation ? Does it leave you or your team in a better place? What kind of future does it build?

    Focus on creating more multiplier moments. Stop talking (the inner chat as well), suspend perceptions, look out for and appreciate different kinds of talent, tell people what you see in them, raise their awareness and confidence and keep looking for ways to utilise this talent to the fullest. With the mindset of a multiplier and careful observation look at an individual’s  performance anew by challenging yourself to ask these questions:-

    • What does this individual do better than anything else they do?
    • What does this individual do better than anyone else?
    • What do other people, team members, customers, key stakeholders spot and value in their interactions with them?
    • What additional opportunities can you create to play to their talents
    Once you have done this, reflect on what you , your team and organisation have gained.
    Does the future look brighter? 
    Mhairi Cameron Consulting Ltd
    www.mhairicameronconsulting.co.uk
  • Leadership for our times – a question of maths?

    Date: 2011.10.18 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 3

     Mhairi Cameron Consulting Ltd

    ­­

    What if I told you in these resource strapped times there was a way of increasing your team’s output and motivation without having to increase your resources?  And that the key to achieving this rests with you and your fellow managers!

    Focusing on resource allocation particularly when we were relatively speaking more rich in resources had become a norm in many of our organisations. If you wanted to increase a service or achieve more effectiveness then creating another post or posts , developing a new team became a way of resolving a particular tension or aspiriation for the service manager , leaders and wider organisation.

    Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown in their book  “Multipliers – How the best leaders make everyone smarter “published last year, set out compelling arguments as to why this dominant logic –  the logic of addition – more resources added for new requests fails. Negotiations between senior managers and operational managers go backwards and forwards , trade offs being achieved between the need for more output and people to deliver. Neither party wins, both are often left dissatisfied , people continue to feel overworked and the value added to the service, the customer, if we are truly honest with ourselves, remained modest

    If we can change the narrative within our organisations to one  on resources focused on better utilisation of people’s talent  and the logic to the logic of  multiplication then we can start from a different place. Leaders/senior managers who believe in the multiplication argument  believe that despite all the resource shortages most people in organisations are underutilised , that if we could tap into their true potential, capability can be multiplied, we just need to leverage this with the right kind of leadership. It is not so much a question of allocating resources as a  question of the mindset we as leaders bring to the challenge.

    This mindset is at the heart of the research carried out by  Wiseman and McKeown . The question they ask  is “Are you a Diminisher or A Multiplier?‘  A few words on the underpinning mindsets and behaviours of these two different kinds of  leaders  and managers.

    Diminishers lie at one end of the spectrum and are very intelligent and often experts in their field who have somehow not yet made the transition from looking beyond their own capability . They believe that intelligence is fixed – you either have it or you don’t  – that it is limited  and that people like them are really scarce. They tend to  take all the big decisions themselves,  micro manage and  do the thinking for everyone . They  can make people doubt their own capability by reinforcing theirs at every opportunity.

    At the other end of the spectrum are the Multipliers  equally bright and intelligent  who believe that intelligence is not limited to just a few  and who will actively create environments and shape challenges and assignments to provide stretch for people to grow capability. They are demanding leaders, this is not a soft option, but channel this into developing  intensity of focus rather than pressure on tough organisational questions. They give accountability, get out of the way whilst  at the same time being available for support  , they invest in their people , ask lots of questions and debate difficult choices  in the round. They  use their brainpower to connect to the brainpower of others and bring out new talent. People believe in their own capability!

    In the middle of the spectrum are the Accidental Diminishers but more about these in the next blog.

    Test this out for yourselves

    Select two managers from your career. One  you would characterise as a diminisher and one as a multiplier. List all the characterisitcs or reasons why you placed the manager under the approriate heading. Look at the results. Then ask yourselves what % of my potential  and capability was I able to bring to my role at that time  and compare the results .

    Select a couple of colleagues and ask them to do the same and compare results’. What is it telling you?

    When ever I have done this the results demonstrate  multipliers  get so much more from people for free ( sometimes  twice as much). Put another way diminishers cost the organisation, as they need twice the resources to get things done to the same standard!

    So let’s come back to the opening questions. What are you doing to leverage the talent of your team ?  How many of your recent conversations have been led from a multiplier mindset?  In your management teams where is the focus? On allocating resources or leveraging them? Who has the accountability? Who is asking the tough questions? Let’s  hear those Multiplier stories…….

    A post by Mhairi Cameron Consulting Ltd, email mhairi.cameron@btinternet.com, www.mhairicameronconsulting.co.uk

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