I’ve recently read some academic research around the importance of being ‘struck’ during reflexivity as part of leadership development (Corlett 2012). This research considers how you may have striking experiences that stop you in your tracks or give you that light bulb moment. The reflexive learning comes when you reflect on those moments and learn from them. This is key in leadership as we constantly have to be aware of the relationships and experiences we have with our teams. This week I’ve had several moments where I have been struck. Let me share them.
I joined a call with one of my extended teams where we were discussing the results of their recent employee engagement survey. We were sharing the findings with the team and discussing what we could do to improve in some of the areas of employee engagement. One of them being worklife balance. One of the team stopped me in my tracks and told me I was wrong and it should infact be LIFEwork balance. This gave me one of those striking moments, where it became obvious that he was right. To achieve worklife balance, we actually had to create LIFEwork balance. The generalistic goal of this has always been supporting and ensuring our people have that balance in their life, but to use the term worklife balance, does seem to be focusing on the wrong priority.
This has now been added to my organisational mission. Henceforth this will be identified as LIFEwork balance.
Dispensable and Valuable
Another striking moment happened this week during a conversation with one of the team who had been approached by an account lead and was told that we had to give their team pay rises as they were critical to their business and we needed to retain them. I agree that we need to do this when it matters and pick our battles, but during this conversation I was struck by the number of times they used the word critical in the conversation. Thinking about this made me realise that we are actually making our people more critical by doing this. Surely we should be making our people dispensable, so we can move them onto better and more fulfilling work, rather than keeping them ring fenced into the same role for years at a time. I realised that perhaps rather than rewarding our people, we are holding them back. What we really need to make them is dispensable to their role and then more valuable and give them better opportunities to grow and expand their development.
Reflecting on this further made me think about succession plans and rotations. This seems like the most logical way to effectively give our people the best opportunity for development by widening their experiences and ultimately the value to us as a business.
There are many techniques available to support succession planning for example, the 9 box grid model, where we look at people’s performance and potential and we have used that technique regularly. However, if I am being completely honest, did we ever fully act on those succession plans? Perhaps we did sometimes, but perhaps we didn’t as we had ‘critical’ things that needed to be done by our ‘critical’ people and if we moved them on, then we couldn’t achieve what we needed.
One of the things that this technique doesn’t do, is capture value to the account, their team and their capability. We are now going off and figuring out how we can capture and identify this value. From there we are looking at how we can grow this value. Do we need to have a better use of rotations, job sharing, shadowing, on the job training, coaching etc. This is the challenge that we are looking at now. Unless we start taking this 100% serious and making our people dispensable, but valuable, I don’t think we will ever get out of the ‘critical’ situations. This will help us better reward those that are valuable to our business and encourage more self development within our teams as well as give opportunities to others to develop and progress their careers and ultimately add to their own value.
The Power of Collaboration
I’ve always been lucky to work with my team and am truly thankful to all of them for what they do for me, their colleagues and the business. Over the last few weeks I have been incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with 2 amazing and inspirational colleagues from around the global business; Lori Lewis (Global Application Offerings leader in the US) and Anna Melina Faude (Consulting team in Germany).
We came together due to a common interest; our passion for driving a Culture of Innovation and we were asked to present a talk to the global sales and solutioning team around how to drive the Culture.
Over a month or so of planning this presentation, we have been meeting regularly, having striking discussions that have left me incredibly inspired. When you witness the power of collaboration in action where we are all motivating and encouraging, supportive and enabling and all working to the same goal that we deeply care about, you can really see something special happening – many striking moments !
We delivered our presentation this week and had each taken a section to work on around different facets of innovation. Until actually presenting, we had never walked through the talk end to end. However, what came out of that call was a cohesive, articulate and collaborative experience. It made me realise, we are onto something! Innovation can often mean many things to different people, but ultimately creating the culture for innovation to flourish and grow always comes from the same things… our people, giving them the opportunity to be creative, to develop those core values, provide the training, tools and time and empower them.
This week has been incredibly inspiring, motivating and full of learnings and opportunities to develop. Can’t wait until next week!