Monday, October 3, 2016

How do leaders transform day to day operations? - part #2

Given what I shared last week, today I want to dive deeply into how to successfully transform day to day operations.

First, leaders transform the internal architecture and culture of the company. As General Stanley McChrystal, with Tantum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussell wrote in their book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For A Complex World, Portfolio/Penguin, 2015: “To win we had to change. Surprisingly, that change was less about tactics or new technology than it was about internal architecture and culture of our force - in other words, our approach to management.” 

We need to recognize as leaders that if you want to transform day to day operations then you need to have developed a transformative strategy based on an understanding that status quo, i.e. the current business model, is dangerous. As part of this work, we need to examine whether the organizational chart is designed for growth and transformation. Many times the organizational chart is the source of the problem rather than the strategy.  I am seeing more and more companies organization around the following categories: mission fulfillment, mission support, mission innovation, and mission advancement & advocacy. 

As I write the above, I hear John Kotter’s voice from his book, Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility For A Faster-Moving World, Harvard Business Review Press, 2014. As he wrote, “Great urgency that drives people in a dozen different directions achieves nothing. The energy that is at the core of accelerated action and dual operating systems is an aligned energy.” I believe aligned energy begins with personal alignment, i.e. our thoughts, words and deeds all line up. Once this is happening, then we can focus on alignment at the  organizational level, i.e. systems and process that create personal clarity, cultural clarity, and community connections.

Second, develop a shared mindset on your team. The first prerequisite to doing this level of work is to put people in leadership positions who have the capacity, i.e. mindset and skill set, to transform the organization. Furthermore, we need to remember that management is not leadership. As Kotter continues in the aforementioned book, “Management is a set of well-known processes that help organizations produce reliable, efficient, and predictable results.

Leadership is about setting direction. It’s about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy. In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future.”

The second prerequisite to building a shared mindset on a team is to put people in leadership positions with relational skill sets who can truly join a team. Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson explore this in their article called “Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams” by Harvard Business Review, November 2007. As they explain, good team leaders and team players can invest time and energy into building and maintaining social relationships throughout the organization,  model collaborative behavior, and coach people about why establishing and maintaining healthy relationships is important.

Third, create and maintain a gardener’s approach. Back to General Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussell. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For A Complex World, Portfolio/Penguin, 2015 where they wrote: “The temptation to lead as a chess master, controlling each move of the organization, must give way to an approach as a gardener, enabling rather than directing…. A gardening approach to leadership is anything but passive. The leader acts as an “Eyes-On, Hands-Off” enabler who creates and maintains an ecosystem in which the organization operates.”

Since the early 90’s, I have taught and coached executives that the best leaders are “Gardeners Of Trust.” They recognize and understand that the followers place their trust in us when we seek to improve or transform an organization. Remember that there are three levels to trust as outlined by  Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau in their article called "The Enemies of Trust" by, Harvard Business Review, February 2003. Here is a quick review:

-  organizational trust where people trust not any individual but in the company itself.

- strategic trust where people trust the team that is running the show to make the right strategic decisions.

- personal trust where people trust their managers to make the right decisions.

This week review the internal architecture and culture of the company to see what may need to be realigned, and then begin the process of building a shared mindset on your team.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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