INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Is your team good at solving problems? I’m betting yes. Are you good at diagnosing the right problem to solve? Well, that’s trickier. Research shared in the Harvard Business Review, conducted among 106 C-suite executives across 91 companies and 17 countries, showed that 85% believed their organization was bad at problem diagnosis–and that it had severe business implications. It begs the question–are you working on the right problem? You can increase the chances that you are with a method known as reframing. Here’s a great example of reframing given by the author of the aforementioned research. Imagine you own a building where tenants are complaining about an old, slow elevator, and threatening to break leases if it’s not fixed. You cringe at the thought of expensive solutions like upgrading the motor or replacing the lift all together. But then you talk to the building manager who has a better idea: install mirrors in the elevator. Why? It gives people something fascinating to look at while they’re waiting (themselves). It doesn’t solve the problem of a slow elevator, but it solves the underlying, real problem–people hate waiting. Bam – problem reframed. You, too, can reframe problems by first committing to spend as much time defining the problem as you do solving it, and then continually asking, “What’s the real problem here?” Invite in outsiders, ask them this question, and encourage them to speak freely. Ask everyone to write down what they think the real problem is, (which leaves no room for lazy assumptions). You can also ask what might be missing in the problem definition, what were the conditions when the problem didn’t exist, and what are the objectives of the people trying to solve the problem (which unearths hidden agendas and misaligned goals that impede proper problem definition).
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake I made)
I’ve mentioned this before but I hate to admit how frustrated I’ve been of late with my fellow human being. Please understand I’m not casting blame on any one point of view here, but what follows are facts. The virus rages on. The planet continues to overheat. Cancel culture still bares its ravenous fangs. Uninformed opinions spew forth as voraciously as misinformation is consumed. So many are being so shitty to each other. Here’s another fact hard for me to confess. It’s weighed me down at times, and this from someone who teaches how to avoid getting weighed down at times. I share this to say you’re not alone if you’re feeling even an ounce of all this. Still, it’s a mistake on my part, and I work hard to deploy an alternative approach. Know that I’ve been repeatedly drawn to one guiding thought. Actually, it’s more of a choice — I choose to be forward facing. I choose to believe that everyone is coming from a place that seems as natural and sensible to them as my worldview is to me. Few wake up saying, “How can I further divide and distance myself from my fellow man or woman?” or “How can I drive a deeper wedge into the connection I crave with others?” We’re all a product of something. I choose not to be stuck in others seeming inability to move towards what I deem to be noble. I choose to meet everyone where they’re at as best I can (within reason), and to spend my energy focusing on what I can control and influence to move forward, towards assuredly brighter days. It’s in today’s struggle that we build strength, hope, and light, for tomorrow.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
Leaders – one of the most powerful habits you can adopt is to ask yourself one question each morning: “How will I earn the right to lead today?” Imagine that your leadership position is an elected one (which it is) – but specifically one where your employees voted you in. They’d feel you earned your position that day if you helped moved things towards a clear, compelling vision you established, if you helped them navigate through politics to get the right things done, if you were available to them and were present in the moment when in their company. They’d consider their vote well spent that day if you lived the values you uphold, if you showed empathy with their struggles while providing guidance, all while still holding all equally accountable. You earned your position that day if you championed an idea, the business, or your people. There are many, many ways to earn the right to lead each day. The work comes in actually earning the right to lead each day. So, ask yourself every morning how you’ll do just that.