Archive for category Team Building

Adaptive Leadership:Responsibility for the future

Culture in an organization is a direct product of the conversations leaders are having or holding within their organizations. Or said another way the culture of an organization is nurtured or destroyed by the conversations of its leaders. If you want more accountability with in your organization than you must be in a relationship of responsibility. You can create a powerful conversation and then let your actions follow in complete reflection of your words.

So many leaders just struggle with owning the results their people produce. The all to common thinking of some managers and owners is..”It is their (the employee) fault that they didn’t make the numbers or fulfill on a commitment”. Then the usual conversation is that you can’t find good help these days. Somehow to these leaders its just doesn’t seem like being a leader if you aren’t blaming or fixing others instead of leading them.

Adaptive leaders are engaged with teams and individuals in ways that produce actions and conversations about success and goals. The real work to be done is working on yourself. I recently have asked the following questions of some of my clients:

“How can you lead your organization (or family) to be prepared for the future you want for them?

“Given some of the circumstances and difficulty you know will likely play out; will you take it personally if those you lead are not prepared to perform?”

In other words, when “that future” shows up and the skills, knowledge, or abilities are insufficient…will you feel like you let others down? Quite often I see leaders blame others or tough circumstances as the reason for a lack of results. In one sense this may be true, leaders can’t control everything. However, they can take responsibility for the system they directly impact as a leader or owner.

Extraordinary leaders never place blame on anyone for the lack of results. Sounds harsh, but I did say “extraordinary”. If you take responsibility for everything then you never have to worry about being accountable. You just are accountable and you expect it of others as well. If your constituents don’t have the skills and perspective they need to “show up” prepared for a future…will you take personal responsibility when they don’t succeed?

  • Essential to Adaptive Leadership is creating awareness for the future and a vision.
  • Helping your team and organization know clearly what is expected of them is what responsible leaders do.
  • Helping others make good choices and trusting them to do so with your support is also essential.
  • When we don’t trust others to act on our behalf or even their own…what does that mean?
  • Usually we don’t trust ourselves and we have a lack of ownership of our own problems.
  • Reinforcing a culture of being responsible comes from your adaptive nature as a leader.
  • If you trust someone to be responsible they will act accordingly.
  • It is well worth the risk to allow someone to take your expectations of them and own their pathway to the end result.

In absence of responsibility the poison of “entitlement” seeps into our lives and holds us captive to inaction and blaming others for all our problems. Its not powerful and it is the biggest challenge facing our society today. We can be extraordinary and powerful beyond what we imagine when we engage ourselves and others in a shared vision and clear pathway. Take responsibility for everything. Its the simplest and most adaptive way to lead.

©2011 The Heartwood Group, LLC


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Are you a Sustainable Leader?

Are you going through people in your business like a parent goes through napkins wiping up a two year old with an ice cream cone on a hot day at the St. Louis Zoo? It’s usually the best that leave first, especially in today’s economic climate. Wondering where all the employee candidates for your business or department are going to come from in the foreseeable future? That is another problem that plagues unsustainable leadership. Their business doesn’t attract candidates to them. Sustainable leaders have a line up and list of people just waiting in the wings.

Sustainability is so diversely defined that we tend to think about just the environment and natural resources.  We should be thinking about sustainable human resources and capital as leaders and owners of a business. You can’t begin to have a “sustainable” business without creating a leadership environment that encourages and nourishes people in their development. Leaders that sustain their people attract others to work for them. It often is the “mystery” thing that people are seduced by, but just can’t describe. Its really simple and essentially costs your business nothing.

There is an epidemic in organizations of treating adults like children. Leaders have become increasingly afraid of letting people take risks and make mistakes. In addition to lack of risk taking there is an unwillingness to have meaningful conversations with others that really demonstrate your sincerity and caring as a leader. This unsustainable leadership shows up in putting off tough conversations or talking behind peoples back to others. It allows the unsustainable  disease of entitlement to poison a workforce. People begin to think they are owed something and make it okay not to deliver on numbers or take off from work early.

AND equally as bad unsustainable leaders justify everything as…I could have but…I wanted to but…IF ONLY…  When a SUSTAINABLE LEADER steps up you feel it, you sense it, and you live for it. We are longing for the support and challenge of a mature adult who has taken charge of their own future. Not a fiercely  independent leader, but a leader fiercely dependent on tapping into the collective human spirit and energy of those individuals around them. They build a narrative that is compelling and is embodied in the character of each and every person.

You see—sustainable leaders BUILD SUSTAINABLE leaders. I think God knew that the human spirit was the one thing that truly is sustainable and limitless. It is the energy that can recreate itself exponentially when it is unleashed by your leadership. Do it….I dare you today to be more than you ever dreamed possible as a leader. To be more human and authentic then ever before.

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Team Works: If you are Share and not Compare

Sharing or Comparing

Any team or business has potential for tremendous public identity to get things done and to perform amazing things for their customers. Our customers demonstrate this by continuing to do business with us and refer others to our offer.  Each person within a business or team is unique in his or her talents, gifts, and personality.  Combine this fact with the clarity of a compelling offer to your market place and you have some magic. Working together as a team requires unique and constant compromise. Some compromises by teammates are undertaken silently. Others are vocal and fully visible journeys to agreement.

The level of agreement needed for successful decisions in a team is everyone’s responsibility. When a business or intact team decides to focus on a performance result there is always the important task of decision making. If you feel that there is confusion or an agreement has been broken or misunderstood…it is each individual team member’s responsibility to reach a new understanding as a team.

When we compare ourselves to others we might think we don’t have enough skills, gifts, or talents. Or when we compare someone to someone else we may not think one person measures up to another. What really is at play is varied or unknown expectations. Expectations come into play because they often are unclear, unconsciously assumed, or were never clearly established upfront. Team members need to know (and constantly seek out) what is expected of them from not only from their coach/manager, but other teammates.

Accepting each other for the special gifts they bring to the team or project is a tremendous start to begin taking full advantage of maximum team performance. Even more empowering is to have a clear understanding of the team’s common purpose…its reason for being. Each individual has a purpose in life and can follow after a certain calling if they are clear what it is.

A calling is merely the vocational experience of your purpose. There is no need to have a calling if there is no caller.  And that is exactly what purpose (the reason for being…a team or business) does. It calls us to something greater than ourselves. This dynamic works through each layer of an organization…starting with the individual and growing with each system layer.

Grow your ability to speak what your heart says is truth to you and the entire team will be able to push out of a comfort zone. You will grow a willingness to encourage others even when it is difficult. Share your feelings and thoughts more openly than maybe you have in the past and don’t “play small”.  Be prudent as needed, but take risks or live with status quo. And lastly aspire to be kind and value others as a human being first and invite them to accompany you on a quest for greatness.

Let go…so that you can take on new possibilities of greater team work. Start sharing and quit comparing.


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INCLUSION AND COMMUNITY: Conversations of commitment

Lack of results or failed businesses can be traced back to the breakdown in community.Peter Block

Here’s a “burst your bubble” statement: “We are not born with the innate skill to be team players.” Yep it’s true, we are born little ambassadors of selfishness and self focus. Almost as soon as we can walk we also start excluding others at an early age… from games to tasty treats.

The behavior of exclusion is an inborn “corporate” behavior. Learning to appreciate our differences as a community, to play together nicely, and be inclusive are learned behaviors. These behaviors are coached forward by great parents and leaders.

The middle ground in this domain of inclusion and community is a deep chasm. It is not easy to go against our normal nature  and strive to be more “in tune” on collaborating with others. We know that it takes time and focus to build relationships, yet so many times businesses and families choose to take the easy road.

Let’s all snap our arm with a rubber band and then recite the following…“The things I really want (or are worth having) in life take work, effort, and commitment”. Repeat this phrase as often as needed. To cross the chasm of self-centeredness to being more inclusive (and willing to invest in building community) you will need to be intentional and goal oriented.

Families and corporations are systems made up of human beings with needs, wants, and goals. At the same time there exists a complete set of accompanying circumstances that can either hinder or enhance the ability to achieve these desired outcomes. How do successful people and businesses overcome these road blocks and take advantage of opportunities? They choose unconditionally to work and support each other. Our business environments are filled with “conditions”.

Great parenting is leadership clothed in unconditional love. Successful families have an establish set of processes, implemented through parenting. These processes have the goal to generate important collaboration and cooperation for the greater good of the family and each individual collectively. Successful families are really practicing the very things that most corporate systems, filled with adults (by age calculation), really need in order to thrive and excel in most global economies and industries moving into the future.

Great leaders, like insightful parents, demand inclusion and design the conversation for community. That is, they influence what the community will talk about. This is not about control, but framing up the vision and building “the container for how and where a successful community can happen and produce results.

Commitment is a conversation about values and goals that will in turn define/lead to action for a desired future. Inclusion is what perfects commitment and builds a robust community that shares the incredible experience of being in action; action that truly makes a difference…action that matters. Not action that is busy work.

It doesn’t just take a community/village to raise a child as Hillary Clinton wrote. It takes a community that is actively involved in a conversation of commitment. The narrative within a business or family about “what is important” builds the community. When the discourse stops so does the community.

Business Application – The need for inclusion and community is evident in and reflected by the choices customers make regarding their purchases. Customers want to be a part of a community when they purchase. Think about how our purchases reflect our values and what we care about.  Why would your customers be any different? How would having a thriving community within your workplace impact the sense of inclusion with your customers?

© The Heartwood Group, LLC 2011


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