Lead the change 4

IMPOSSIBLE THOUGHTS™

7 ways to lead people that don’t want to be led

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

Stop obsessing over how things get done. Worry more about what gets done.

 

Originally published with SUCCESS

Leadership used to be a top-down, pyramid-style structure. The journey to the top was clearly marked. A student graduates college, finds an entry-level job sorting mail or going on coffee runs. They pay their dues, work their way up and in 15 or so years, they’re the ones ordering the coffee.

Today the leadership model resembles something like herding cats.1 People are no longer OK with the status quo and with paying duesThey want their opinions valued and their contributions celebrated. They want to change the company with their ideas—not 15 years in the future but now

Related: Gen Ys and Millennials: ‘They Might Be Right’

So what do we, as leaders, do? How do we lead people who do not want to be led?

It starts with clarity, respect and these seven tips for leading the unleadable:

1. Stand for something.

If you stand for nothing, no one will stand with you. Many organizations have long-winded mission statements that, while eloquently written and momentarily inspiring, are ultimately forgettable.

Standing for something means every person in every corner of the office knows the company’s mission and values. They know it in a few words. They know it intuitively. It is a yardstick to measure their behavior by. It is something to head for and hold onto on tough days.

2. Create cultures of the willing.2

If a leader can make members of an organization or business feel like it mattered that you showed up every day (or at least most days), then anything is possible. More than 70 percent of people leaving a position say one of the reasons was not feeling appreciated and valued.

If we as leaders can create a place where everyone feels their role matters, that what they spent their time away from their loved ones mattered, then we can generate incredible loyalty. Then their willingness to do more, give more and push harder is extraordinary. On the flip side, if all they bought into is a paycheck, they might as well be walking around thinking, How little can I do before I am in danger of getting fired?

3. Stand against something.

If we want people to stand up, we often need to stand against something. We call this having a noble fight. When leaders are rallying against something, people will rally behind them. The cause becomes bigger than the day-to-day fires. It always will.

4. Keep it fun.

No one wants to be led down into the mines. No one says, “Oh, I want to spend my life in a place where fun is banned and costs the company money.” If we want people to commit and follow us happily, then we need to value the things that help make people happy. Stop being a fun-sucking black hole under the guise of “serious business.” Google has made itself famous by building a workplace people find fun. You should, too.

Related: John C. Maxwell: 5 Employee Perks That Should Be Standard in Every Company

5. Ask yourself would someone volunteer for this?

Take some inspiration from a business model that largely relies on volunteers. Notice how they create cultures where people willingly donate their time and energy. They are proud to help.

Your people should be proud in and out of work. A good test: Would they happily wear a T-shirt with a company logo on it for the weekend? If the answer is no, you need to dig a little deeper and look for something people want to help creating. Now unless you’re in the business of saving endangered whales, the voluntary desire might not be as strong. But it’s a good starting point.

6. Obsess about what, not how.

No one wants to work in a regime, so stop obsessing over how things get done. Worry more about what gets done. By trying to control everything, ironically, you end up losing control. People will disengage and begrudge you behind your back. Lead by giving them the discipline of a clear outcome, but the freedom to decide the road they take. Stop counting the seconds they spend at their desks, and start counting the difference they make while they are there.

7. Say good job and mean it.

It’s amazing what a little “good job” will do for your leadership. Say “thank you.” They will know if it’s disingenuous. Thank them specifically. Let them know you see what they do and that it’s appreciated.

– See more at: http://www.success.com/article/7-ways-to-lead-people-who-dont-want-to-be-led#sthash.gATZDM9Y.dpuf

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Why an enemy can be good for business

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Apr 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

by Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan

Originally published with The CEO Magazine

http://blogs.the-ceo-magazine.com/danandkieran/why-enemy-good-business

The self-help industry and the associated cult of positivity often leave us with an incomplete picture of the environment we find ourselves in. We end up seeing only opportunity without risk and end up relying on hope as a strategy.

But just as crucially, this partial view of reality robs us of the positive potential that negative influences can exert on us.

The story of the aging executive who suffers a heart attack only to turn their lives around and become a health enthusiast is almost cliché, and yet it’s an important reminder that bad news isn’t always bad for us.

It’s also indicative of how our enemies can define our vision and mission as much as our noble ambitions.

Of course, when we talk about enemies, these needn’t be individuals or even people at all. In business, our enemies might be outdated beliefs, unproductive behaviors, the tyranny of a monopolistic category or even the outrageous mistreatment of shared customers. Enemies need only be something that we collectively want to change.

A clearly defined enemy can often be more motivating that a less tangible but positively phrased mission statement. In fact, the need to create change in the world points to the fact that something that already exists is undesirable.

It’s also important in terms of how we build organizational culture. Few things incite human tribalism as viscerally as a shared enemy and this is because it aligns so well with human nature. As much as we would like to believe that we are defined mostly by carrots and only rarely by sticks, this flies in the face of our evolution as a species. Our survival brain is far more driven to avoid risk than it is to gain advantage and this still drives much of our decision-making.

However, rather than being seen as something dark in our natures that needs changing, we would do better to understand this innate desire and to align it with our greater purpose.

Defining your enemy:

  1. Understand the change you wish to create – If your goal is to make your service more affordable, it’s useful to frame this as fighting against high prices. If you’re driven by the desire to democratize your category, making your product available to everyone, then fight exclusivity and category snobbery. Freedom, for example, makes a lot more sense when defined alongside slavery or autocracy.
  2. Be clear that it’s a fight your customers want you to have – This is incredibly important. No one will thank you for picking a fight with an underdog, however, challenging a bully is in everyone’s interest.
  3. Be clear about the rules of engagement – In other words, establish clear rules about what is appropriate behavior in the way your staff talk about their enemy and just as importantly think about it.
  4. Use the scale of your enemy as leverage – The larger the change you are seeking to achieve, the more critical your mission, the more important you become in the live for whom you have taken on the fight. David was defined by the fact that he took on Goliath, so too should your enemy be a challenger worth taking on.
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Gen Ys and Millennials: ‘They Might Be Right’

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Feb 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

by Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan

Originally published with SUCCESS

http://www.success.com/article/gen-ys-and-millennials-they-might-be-right

The Gen Y and millennial generations have been harshly criticized by its Gen X and baby boomer counterparts, people who have survived economic downturns, recessions, the digital revolution, outsourcing and off-shoring and still managed to maintain their “greed is good” work ethic. So they often look at their younger co-workers and think, You just wait, kid…. Life is going to hit you hard!

And as the managers of this new, seemingly entitled, generation, we constantly complain of the fact that they won’t just knuckle downdo their time and earn their stripes.

These Gen Y’ers and millennials demand things like work-life balance, time off to donate their labor to charity work, a sabbatical to pursue a foreign placement, a clearly planned path to management—and then they clock-out at 6 p.m. so they can spend time with family and friends because they place human relationships ahead of a singular focus on career advancement. Seriously, what is wrong with these people?

All this angst is despite the fact that many of us from the more senior generations are disillusioned, suffering burnout, dealing with broken relationships and perhaps not doing as well in business as we think we should.

Legendary New York adman Bill Bernbach is reputed to have always carried a card printed with these words: “They might be right.” It was there to remind him that his clients sometimes had a point. Maybe we should apply the same wisdom when dealing with our younger team members.

What if a more balanced view of work, seeing it as a part of our broader lives, is no bad thing? How can we learn from those who will follow us instead of constantly assuming that we know better?

Clearly all generations can learn from each other, but given that the older one is usually doing the lecturing, let’s consider what the attitudes of these so-called slackers have to teach the rest of us:

1. Learn to seek work-life congruence.

Work-life balance is a myth. The lines will always blur and, from time to time, one part of our life will dominate the others. So rather than seeking balance (whatever that is), we should seek a level of congruence between our work, our personal values and our lives.

Consider the fact that Gallup’s Global Workplace Engagement Study has workplace disengagement at around 50 percent, and you begin to understand why. At least half of us, from all generations, are not engaged in the work we are doing. Add to this the fact that employee surveys of younger staff consistently rank a sense of meaning in their work ahead of things like money, and we begin to understand why a establishing a sense of purpose in our work, one linked to our own, is so important.

2. Challenging the status quo is useful (if also slightly irritating).

Of course the world would be a better place if everyone around us just did what we asked without questioning our motives or methodology. But all progress requires a level of agitation and dissatisfaction with the current way things get done.

Constant questioning is critical to innovation, to improvements in efficiency and also to ensuring that we mitigate risks that we hadn’t planned for. While challenge can often come across as disrespect or insolence, being open to questioning the status quo is essential.

3. Shift from using metrics like time and physical presence to measuring results.

Just because someone is burning the midnight oil does not always mean they’re being effective. In fact, oftentimes it’s an indication of poor time management and a lack of planning and proficient systems.

The move away from Industrial Revolution models of productivity toward those of the digital and information age necessitate a re-evaluation of the metrics we use to assess our output and that of our teams. In this reality, achieving greater results with less effort is a critical asset.

So the next time a younger member of your staff starts to push your buttons, remember Bill Bernbach and consider, “They might be right.”

– See more at: http://www.success.com/article/gen-ys-and-millennials-they-might-be-right#sthash.GMxnqPSi.dpuf

 

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Why leaders need to think Selfish, Scared & Stupid

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Feb 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan

Originally published by CEO Magazine

http://blogs.the-ceo-magazine.com/guest/why-leaders-need-think-selfish-scared-stupid

Today leaders are largely defined by two characteristics: an aptitude for making hard decisions; for reading situations and demonstrating credible judgment whilst amplifying certainty, and secondly, an ability to influence others; to persuade, to inspire and to shift hearts and minds.

Both of these characteristics are informed by a leader’s capacity for insight, their understanding of what drives human behavior.

For years, much of what has informed our knowledge of human behavior has been based on an acceptance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – like the food pyramid, Maslow’s triangle depicting humanity’s rise from base needs through our evolution to things like self-actualization and meaning.

And that’s where we human beings like to see ourselves – highly evolved and self-actualized.

You may even be reading this article and thinking, “But Dan and Kieran, I am self-actualized. I grew a mustache to raise money for charity; I’ve given money to save animals that aren’t even that cute and guys… I own a yoga mat!!! I’m totes self-actualized.”

Please understand that our goal here is not to deny your better angels (nor ours) but simply to assert that they are not always, or indeed very often, in the driver’s seat when it comes to human behavior.

Of course, it’s nice to think of ourselves as being highly evolved and to proudly proclaim the same is true of our team, our customers and our communities.

But consider that, in the roughest sense, the mathematical concept of average points to half of our workforce being below average competence at what they do, that half our customers are less honest than average and that fifty percent of our communities are more disinterested than the arithmetic mean. Which is not to say that they’re hopeless, simply less ideal in their behavior than most of us would like.

Add to this is the fact that, according to Gallup’s Global Workforce Engagement Study, at least 50% of the workforce is not engaged in what they do, with 20% actively disengaged and you begin to see why we spend a little more time at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid than we would like to admit.

The larger your organization and the more people in your customer base, the closer these numbers come to being true of your community.

So what’s the solution? Bring in a motivational speaker to ‘rev them up’ with a power move and a stirring story of victory over adversity? Or perhaps you’re more into the stick than the carrot and think it’s time to put some people on notice.

The truth is, these numbers will always be at these levels. The question therefore isn’t, “How do I get my people to change in order to achieve the results we need?” it should be, “How do I get my people to deliver these results even if they don’t change?”

In other words, how do we get a largely disengaged workforce of varying levels of competence to behave as if they’re not?

Welcome to the world of Behavior Design.

It starts by working with the current of human nature rather than fighting it. This begins with realizing that our survival brain still drives most of our decision-making (at least initially), and being honest enough to admit our survival brain is selfish, scared and stupid.

That means leaders and executives (and those who want to lead) need to:

# ThinkSelfish – in other words, frame your instructions and goals in terms of what’s in it for them. The more they see your interests as linked to theirs, the greater their engagement.

# ThinkScared – all of us filter the world in terms of risk and opportunity, so ensure that your people see more opportunity in the direction of your goals and greater risk in where they are right now.

# ThinkStupid – make things easy, make things simple, but perhaps more importantly, make it hard not too. The more you make ideal behaviors accessible and less than ideal behaviors difficult, the greater your influence and the more persuasive your leadership.

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Swim with the current

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Nov 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

One of the advantages of growing up on a huge island in the South Pacific – Terra Australis – is that you learn to be a little more ocean savvy than much of the rest of the world. Swimming in the ocean is an entirely different skill to swimming in a pool.

There are two things you learn pretty quickly:

  1. If you get caught up in a rip tide – swim with the current, and
  2. Always swim next to a group of British backpackers, because while you probably can’t out swim a shark… maybe you don’t always have to…

Of course, the first point is one that we tend to struggle with, both in the water and in our daily lives. It seems counter-intuitive to swim with a current when your goal is often in another direction altogether. But this turns out to be key to our survival. We don’t tire so easily from fighting a force we’re just not strong enough to beat and using the current actually helps us swim more effectively and swiftly.

So it is with human behavior. We try to cajole ourselves into submission, berate ourselves for not being more disciplined and set up systems that drive us towards more and more unnatural behavior.

The key, of course, is to understand what currents already exist in our behavior and those of our staff and customers and work with them. Each of us is an individual and to expect homogenous behavior is to set yourself up for disappointment and ultimately to miss some of the richness of humanity.

When trying to create change, get clear about what behavioral currents you’re trying to swim against and instead, factor these into your strategy. Not a morning person? Build a strategy around evening activity. Your team isn’t collaborating well? Show them what’s in it for them as individuals – both positive and negative. Your customers are set in their ways? Demonstrate how your new offering is very much like something they’ve loved for years.

We can’t always beat the current, but used well, it can actually get us to where we want to be more quickly

DAN GREGORY & KIERAN FLANAGAN

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