This week I attended a 3 day residential as part of the strategic leadership programme I blogged about previously.
The 3 days were fun, intense, emotional, challenging, tiring and jam packed with valuable insights about myself, my peers (which also taugh me about myself) and my current perceived limitations.
As I sit here looking at the sketched notes during the 3 days there are some interesting themes which emerge and I’d like to share those here.
Innovation in a vacuum
This was probably one of the most interesting and surprise insights across the 3 days. The phrase was coined by a fellow participant. How i’ve taken this is that sometimes people/teams/services or anyone really who innovates in isolation and disconnected to real things can still create amazing things but they are less valuable unless they have a clear purpose and are trying to solve real tangible issues…it basically becomes misguided. Although the result is still valuable learning of course.
Don’t make assumptions
I’ve blogged about this before and it is actually really hard to surface the assumptions you are making at any given time unless you provide some kind of internal process for capturing them.
In saying all of that when you end up doing things and you are under pressure, we all found we kept making assumptions which were counter productive to us achieving the goals of any given task…we naturally all became more aware and got much better at stating them but how often do we support each other to help identify the assumptions we are making as we make decisions.
As existing leaders and as future leaders we need to be more responsible and take more responsibility around all the things we do. We also need to take responsibility for coaching and nurturing other people to become effective leaders.
Now is the time
After a couple of days of reflection I think one of the biggest things I learnt is that now is the time, tomorrow won’t do and isn’t good enough. Why aren’t I creating a sense of greater urgency for action, why aren’t I challenging the counter productive behaviours I see now, why aren’t I simply stepping up and becoming a more effective leader. People aren’t necessarily going to come and ask me to do something so I need to be more proactive, take responsibility and really “lead”. That means to me, helping to create a vision, helping others to connect and understand that, allowing ownership of that to spread and to openly invite and encourage ideas and solutions around that vision. I need to stop thinking that I’m fighting a solo battle…I’m not. I also need to really step back and understand how my strengths can be used to involve others and how those strengths can be used effectively and constructively moving forward. This may sound overly critical, but it isn’t. It is simply an honest reflection of where I’ve been this week. My challenge is how I reconcile this and become a better person.
Personal and relevant feedback is very powerful
I’ve always believed this but there does come a point when you get such intense and relevant feedback and literally straight after completing a task that it becomes a very powerful tool for personal learning.
We received a mix of feedback, so we had things we did well and things we could improve upon…and also lots of observations about behaviours and styles which is really interesting.
We should really encourage people to provide feedback and it should form a healthy part of effective teams.
The other aspect of personal and relevant feedback is the stuff you do yourself. The reflections and moments when you consider your own performance. This was enhanced as we were introduced to some really effective coaching techniques. We explored this in pairs on the first day which was really powerful and given that we didn’t really know each other that well, the groups positive views of the experience indicated they all felt as energised from the process as I did. Another example of this was on the final day when we had some rapid 10 minute coaching slots and within minutes of being coached I was really nudged into considering and focusing on the key questions which will help me grow moving forward. I’ve taken some key actions away about my behaviour and some actions around my leadership style as well as how I engage others.
Truly understanding your strengths and the strengths of others isn’t an easy process but an essential one and we should spend more time reflecting and having opportunities to coach and be coached.