Leadership Connections – A Reflective Look Back

Leadership Concept Map August 2016

Leadership Map PDF                             Video explanation of Map

As I reflect on what leadership means I’m drawn to Kruse’s attempt to define leadership.

“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, toward the achievement of a goal”
(Keven Kruse, What is Leadership?, 2013)

Leadership is not about your position or title, it’s about the choices you make within your circle of influence.  Covey (2006) explained that you can begin by leading yourself.  Great leaders start by recognizing the value of ongoing professional and personal development. Regardless of whether you are involved in education or in business, it’s about making purposeful choices to help your team work together to reach a goal.  A team can be your friends, family, your educational colleagues, your classroom of students, the people on your home based business team or the people in your department at work.

Leaders are integral members of teams which are similar to communities of practice (CoPs).  Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002) noted that CoPs are voluntary, vibrant and productive groups that foster ongoing relationships amongst group members, which builds value and engagement and in turn contributes to social capital. While every reading acknowledged teams or groups or followers, communities of practice was not a common phrase in the popular literature.  The strategies suggested for developing vibrant, voluntary communities of practice are simply good strategies to consider for all teams in any context.

As Stephen M. R. Covey (2006) said “leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust” (Speed of Trust, p. 40).  Leadership is a multidimensional concept that not only focuses on the task at hand but on how you go about achieving the goal.  It’s like going on a trip.  We all need to be headed to the same destination, but the paths we take and the stops we make along our journey all depend on how we are going to get there.

There’s many ways to reach your destination.  The concept of differentiated learning is based on the idea that we have a common outcome to achieve, but the learning and instructional strategies we use to get there depend on our choices.   You can hop in a car and drive yourself.  Going it alone will eventually get you there, but you may have to make more stops along the way to get everything done.  You could car pool with people that you trust, but that means you have to carefully choose your team so they can fit in the vehicle.  You could hop on the company bus, train or plane.  There’s lots of ways to get results, but not every path will be as efficient or support the coevolution of social and intellectual capital.

In a Good To Great article, Collins (2001) explained that it’s all about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.  As the bus driver (leader), you have to start with WHO is on the bus.  The right people will bring a diverse and unique set of intellectual capital with them. It also means that you have to get the wrong people off the bus.  Building strong social capital within a group starts by creating a culture of excellence where individuals are motivated to be part of strong, dynamic team.

Part of creating a culture means defining the boundaries. Dr. Henry Cloud (2013) explained we have to lead in a way that people’s brains can follow.  You won’t foster strong, interpersonal connections and create a trusting environment by creating fear.  You have to keep the team focused on their goal, inhibit the barriers that will distract them and provide the opportunity to create routines in their working memories. Sinek (2014) agreed noting the importance of creating the circle of safety and how all of our actions as group members trigger brain based responses that either reinforce the relationships or create trust gaps.

Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) referred to the organizational advantage of companies that have both high intellectual and social capital as creating innovative, trusting and cohesive teams.  While trust is not the only component of building social capital, trust was mentioned by Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998);  Daniel, McCalla and Schwier (2003); Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002); McGonigal(2015); Sinek (2014); Cloud (2013); the Heaths (2010); and most definitely by Covey (2006) in The Speed of Trust.  Trust was the common thread in the majority of reading that I did.

Covey (2006) gave specific trust building behaviours to practice.  Cloud (2013) discussed how trust permeates the culture you create.  It “is the starting point … [that] makes it all work” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 171). Both McGonigal (2015) and Sinek (2014) focused on the body’s response to hormones like oxytocin which help foster trusting relationships. Trust is an integral part of creating healthy social capital, which in turn creates a strong, leadership culture.  As Covey (2006) stated and Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) noted, when trust goes up, the costs both financial and relationship go down. Trust increases the likelihood of knowledge exchanges which also generate intellectual capital.

Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) cited Nahapiet & Ghoshal’s (1998) different aspects of social capital.

  • Structural – how members connect with other people in the community; how does information spread (Daniel, et al., 2003, p. 5).
    • Here’s where I see an interesting connection to Gladwell’s work in The Tipping Point.  Although he asked what causes a word of mouth epidemic, the question is essentially the same as asking how information is dispersed through a person’s network.  Gladwell (2006) talked about “connectors”, the people who are linked to many different people in a variety of social circles. While the articles on social capital didn’t mention the common links in the network, I would propose that the efficient dissemination of information flows out through key connectors with in the community.  Gladwell (2006) likened it to the game the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. While we live in a social media age, there are still key influencers online that we all follow or are connected to through our online network.
    • Next Gladwell (2006) mentioned the “mavens,” individuals that are extremely knowledgeable about specific topics.  They are your go to people.  When a maven answers your questions there’s a high probability you are going to follow their advice because you trust them and know that they are suggesting the best option for you.  Networks high in social capital will include mavens and connectors.  Both have a high knowledge capital and are willing to share their tacit knowledge with the group.
    • Finally, Gladwell (2006) explained the “persuaders” are the members of the group that can change people’s minds.  They are able to convincingly share and spread ideas.
  • Next Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) noted the relational dimension.  There are 4 components: Trust which we noted the value of earlier; norms; obligations: and identification.
    • Both Covey (2006)  and Cloud (2013) noted the importance of clear boundaries for a team.  People need to know where they are going, clarify what’s expected and be supported by a culture that trusts them to get it done.
    • Chip and Dan Heath (2010) explained you have to shape the path.  You have to create the environment which not only encourages people to make the change but shapes their choices. The Heaths’ strongly emphasized the significance of a shared identity.  In fact, they noted it’s our go to decision making model.  We may reason out our decision using the rational model, but when in doubt the elephant wins and we decide in favor of our identity.  Avolio, Walumbwa and Weber (2009) agreed that activating an identity to which people can relate, helps to build a shared identity (p. 427).
    • Gladwell (2006) likened this notion to the broken windows effect.   We are shaped by our environment and the people in it.  Culture is how we make sense of the world and our behaviour shifts according to the environment and context in which we live and work.
    • Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) also noted the value of network ties and configuration as essential aspects of how we access information, which connect back to Gladwell’s connectors, mavens and persuaders.
  • Lastly, the cognitive dimension is based on building meaningful connections in a shared context.  A shared language helps teams facilitate the exchange of information which creates an opportunity to build intellectual capital. Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) noted the significance of shared narratives (p. 6).  Just as Carmine Gallo (2014) explained in Talk Like TED, stories not only help us organize the world, they are given preferential treatment in our memory.  Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) also highlighted how stories are a powerful way to not only transfer explicit knowledge, but if you look closely at how the story flows the tacit knowledge is embedded, as well.
    • Bolden, Gosling, Marurano and Dennison (2003) pointed out that although there are many different leadership theories, there is no one size fits all leadership style and each theory lends itself to different styles, followers and situations (p. 8).  Knowing what style to apply depends on your context and situation and it’s an important part of responding to the needs of your team

Melrose, Park and Perry (2015) reminded us of the value of articulating our personal philosophy.  Before we can decide what or how to reach our destination, we have to understand why we chose that teaching approach in the first place.  Reflecting on your personal philosophy of learning and leadership is an important part of growing as a leader.  We all have a go to framework that not only helps us organize our learning, but it’s what we default to in times of stress.  In his TED Talk – How great leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek explained

people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.

Whether it’s selling a product, implementing a change or teaching a new skill.  People don’t buy in because you told them to, they are drawn to your why.  Just think about the teachers and leaders that have inspired you. It was likely their genuine enthusiasm and leadership style that you connected with most.   A strong understanding of content is important but unless people understand why the concept is important, it’s just data.

It doesn’t mean that your why or your personal philosophy of leadership or learning won’t change.  They will continue to evolve.  What’s important is that you are an active part of the evolution.  It’s the small actions each day that become the habits shaping your path and in turn your life.  Make sure you are becoming the leader you want to be not just the one that happened.

Sometimes the smallest actions say the most.  Body language and non-verbal communication surfaced on several occasions during my research.  From Amy Cuddy’s (2012) research on how body language can change the hormones released in our body and in turn how our brains think to McGonigal’s (2015) physical resilience power-up strategies, body language is embedded into social capital without us even realizing it.  Our brains will judge within seconds whether members of our network are trustworthy or not.  It’s not even something we need to consciously decide.  Our primitive brain is always working to protect us.  Sinek (2014) pointed out if the trust begins to fail our brain chemistry changes and we are no longer focused on the team goal but rather our individual survival.  Ruggieri, Boca and Garro (2013) noted face to face leadership is established through “body language, vocal inflection, eye contact and clothing” (p.98), which is reinforced based on the group’s response.

Winkler (2010) mentioned in several theories the results a leader produces are dependent upon the a group’s favorable response.  In the idiosyncrasy credit theory of leadership, for example, a leader rises as they gain credit for upholding the social norms and expectations of the group.  Once they become a leader their credits enable them step outside the boundaries and push the group in innovative directions, but only as long as the group finds the results favorable.  Too many withdrawals in your leadership credits means you will lose control. Similarly, Covey (2006) discussed the significance of making deposits not just withdrawals in your trust account.    While Winkler (2010) didn’t directly define the concept of social capital, it permeated the majority of contemporary theories that he discussed.

As I re-read my Super Better post wondering how I was going to connect gaming and resilience to leadership, I was drawn back to McGonigal’s (2015) keys connections between our thinking and behaviours that contribute to post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth.

  • Learn to benefit find connected to Chip and Dan Heath’s (2010) find the bright spots which pairs with the strength based leadership focus.
  • Finding the heroic story encouraged us to connect to our story and how we identify with our network.
  • Cultivating connectedness builds relationships.
  • Being flexible and adopting a challenge mindset will help you and your team find the best solution rather than the one you think should work.
  • Lastly, taking committed action links to following through with what you say you are going to do (Cloud (2013) & Covey (2006)).

All of which help build social capital.

While gaming may not be your thing, the value in Super Better lies in the small, achievable challenges that build resilience. If you are focused on developing a team of strong leaders, building these strategies into your community of practice will not only strengthen the resilience of the individuals, but the team as well.  As Collins (2001) said, you need the right people on the bus and then it doesn’t matter what detours you encounter the team will make it happen.

What about e-leadership?

Avolio et. al. (2009) noted that e-leadership comes with its own unique set of challenges based on the physical distance, as well as, the type of technology; moreover, face to face is not the same as virtual environments (p. 440).  Ruggieri, Boca and Garro (2013) explained that online transformational leadership encouraged increased communication, self awareness and increased levels of team identification.  By focusing on more than just the transactions that occur within a group, transformational leaders build the skills of their followers in multiple dimensions. In short, they foster the growth of well rounded, leaders working towards a common goal.

As I reflected in an early post.  I learned the most from online classes lead by transformational leaders where we were encouraged to share our ideas without the fear of being wrong.  The true building of intellectual capital is in the sharing of and reflecting on ideas.  You don’t grow unless you share, make connections and think more deeply about your experiences.   All of which rarely happens without a positive, social capital rooted firmly in trusting relationships.  As Sinek (2014) noted, “the people always have the power” (p. 67) and the true power lies in realizing that we are all responsible for protecting the circle of safety.  The circle is what supports the coevolution of social and intellectual capital which creates an organizational advantage (Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998); Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003)).

Driscoll (2005) cited Wenger (1998) as she noted how our learning trajectory changes over time.  Whether you are on an inbound trajectory headed toward full group participation as an insider or sustaining relationships in related communities of practice as a broker or on an outbound course, people are always interacting with communities of practice in different ways (Psychology of Learning for Instruction, p.168-169).  Driscoll (2005) noted the work of Lave & Wenger (1991) when she explained that becoming an insider takes time.  Newcomers start on the periphery and through their interactions with oldtimers (full participants) slowly progress toward full participation.  As new members join the group, the once newcomer becomes a mentor as they move closer to becoming an old timer (Driscoll, 2005, p. 166).

Learning trajectory is an interesting way to think about home based business entrepreneurs.  There’s a strong core group that is very active and in some cases includes the founders.  As teams grow, newcomers learn the business and progress toward full inbound participation, but just as often as new people join others are on their outbound path.  It’s an ever evolving community of practice held together by the core members.  As Driscoll (2005) shared with reference to the work of Lave and Wenger (1991), there is no illegitimate peripheral participation.  Access to most specific home based business groups requires actual membership before detailed sharing of knowledge occurs.  Whether people choose to engage and move from legitimate peripheral to full participation, depends upon the social and intellectual capital within the group.  The community of practice needs to welcome the new members and in turn new members must choose their level of participation (Psychology of Learning for Instruction, p. 167-166).

While it may at times be necessary for someone to actually take the lead, it doesn’t mean that all members can’t practice positive leadership.  We all have a choice to participate in and help strengthen the team.  The strength of a team lies not in in one person but in the complex interconnections between the explicit and tacit knowledge shared by the group.  Perhaps in the end effective leadership is less about the person leading and more about creating the conditions in which we can all learn to lead.  Avolio et. al. (2009) discussed leadership as an emergent state in which team members collectively lead each other (p.431).  Providing opportunities for each person’s strengths to contribute to and lead the team when appropriate creates a unified and cohesive group that can take on any challenge.


References available on our Leadership Resources page.

 

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Connection… it really does matter

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      Leadership is more complicated than you might think and for the most part our conscious awareness of what’s happening is minimal.  We may choose to follow or be frustrated by our leaders, yet how often do you step back and think about what makes a good leader great? Or for that matter, why we are frustrated with our job?  There are many factors in play that impact how our brains consciously and unconsciously respond to the leaders and followers around us.

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After reviewing many resources for this class, a few key topics consistently rise to the surface.  Relationships and trust.   Google defined relationships as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected or the state of being connected…[how] people or organizations regard and behave toward each other.”

It’s really about the connections you have with the people around you. Dr. Henry Cloud (2013) explained “relationships change brain chemistry” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 82).   As a leader, it’s important to consider how your leadership impacts people’s executive functioning.  Cloud asserted that we must lead in ways that match our brain’s executive functioning processes.  We must be able to focus our attention on connections, inhibit distractions and use our working memory to remember and build on relevant information. (p. 27 & 83).  As Cloud explained, connections foster unity and help the brain become more effective (p. 84).  When was the last time you considered how the brain functions when you planned a meeting?

So how are you building connections within your team?

smartphone-1445489_960_720Pixabay – Geralt

People notice, if you only show up when you need something and Cloud (2013)  shared many stories highlighting the effects of attempting to carry forward a sound plan without a healthy culture (p. 84-85).  Steven M.R. Covey (2006) echoed similar assertions when he repeatedly stated when”trust goes up, speed will also go up and costs will go down” (Speed of Trust, p. 13).

So how do you foster a culture of connections?  I’m reminded of a book I read a few years ago called “TouchPoints” by Dougals Conant and Mette Norgaard. Their premise… every interaction you have with someone is an opportunity to foster the relationship in a positive or negative way.  The smallest moments build the connections and shape your relationships.  Do the best you can to make those moments count.

Daniel, McCalla and Schwier (2002) noted the value of social capital within face to face and virtual communities. Social capital is “a stock of active connections among people: the trust, mutual understanding, and shared values and behaviours that bind people as members of human networks and communities” (p. 1).  The more social capital an individual has linked to within a community, the more potential benefits that are possible.  Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) cited Putnam’s work reminding that social capital is “an attribute of an individual in a social context” (p. 5).  It’s always the individual’s choice to access their connections; moreover, social capital is not a commodity to be passed from one person to the next unless you you are dealing with the reputation of a brand or larger company. Then people would expect the new owners to uphold the brand’s track record.  Individual social capital is built upon the connections one has within a community (p.5).

It’s an interesting concept well worth your consideration.  Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) observed several potential benefits including: enabling community members to more easily solve problems; increased cooperation;  a united group allowed for more efficient forward movement toward a goal; increased trust fostered increased interactions which in turn led to more positive daily business interactions; increased socially accepted behaviour; upheld social norms; increased knowledge sharing; and bridging of cultural differences (p. 3).  Daniel et. al. (2003) even noted social capital related success in both education and business settings (p.4).

As with anything, a strong community of practice is vulnerable to the negatives of social capital. It depends which type of influence a strong, cohesive group chooses to exert on its members.  Entry into a strong community of practice may be more difficult for outside members as opposed to those already linked to the group.  It all depends on how each unique community of practice chooses to interact with the norms of society as a whole (p. 4).

As a leader, what can you do?

Daniel, McCalla and Schwier (2002) noted the importance of creating space for social interactions to occur.  Each interaction then has the opportunity to build trust.  The second factor considered the time needed for social capital to develop.   Community members need the space and time to develop trust building social capital (p.2).

Dr. Henry Cloud (2013) offered 5 aspects to consider when attempting to foster stronger connections.

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1. Look for opportunities to create meaningful connections
– Cloud (2013) advocated for different meetings rather than more meetings.
– Meetings that have a purpose of uniting the team toward a common goal create the social context trusting interactions; moreover, regular, purposeful meetings build in the time to enhance social capital (Daniel, McCalla & Schwier, 2002, p.2).

Cloud highlighted the value of asking three questions:

~ How did we do today on working together?

~ Did we do what we said we were going to do?

~ Did we live out our team operating values?
(Boundaries for Leaders, 2013, p. 87)

— If you didn’t do those things, then figure out what you can do to more forward.

2. You have to be on the same page. 
– Your team has to be working toward the same goal and it can be as simple as beginning with a clear agenda or agreed upon objective. You have to define your purpose (Boundaries for Leaders – Cloud, 2013, p. 90).

– Daniel, McCalla & Schwier (2002) explained that both virtual and face to face communities share a common language which they use “to negotiate meaning, understand each other and build common vocabulary around their interests and goals” (p. 1).  Without a shared history and common language, a group runs the risk of miscommunication.  As a leader, you have to keep people on the same page.

3. Be aware
– Be aware of the different perspectives on your team as Cloud pointed out, everyone “need[s] to know and operate from the same set of facts and realities” (p. 91).  If you aren’t all on the same page, people are going to begin to feel disconnected which in turn begins to fragment your team.  Listen to the different perspectives, deal with the differences and move forward so everyone is aware of what’s happening and why.

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Pixabay – Peggy_Marco

4. It’s more than what you say, it’s how your body says it
– Cloud (2013) again reminded that as a leader your body language sets a tone for the team.  There needs to be a consistency between what you say and the non verbal signals you are sending (p. 91).

5. The stories we tell ourselves matter
– Cloud (2013) noted that “the human brain likes to organize experiences into a story…The more you attend to keeping the relevant narrative alive, the more connections you will create” (p. 92).  Safir (2015) explained in her article, “The Power of Story in School Transformation” that paying attention to people’s stories will build connections and in turn help you construct a new narrative for your team.

Safir noted 3 types of stories:

  • Your Story – sharing your experiences shows vulnerability and models social-emotional experiences.  Just think about how you connect when you hear someone else’ story.  (Brene Brown – Daring Greatly is a great read on this topic)
  • The stories of others – truly listening to other’s stories develops trust and connections
  • The organizational story “Organizations carry their own core memories” (para. 8)
    (As summarized in an earlier blog post).

The idea, as Safir explained, is called storientation – paying attention to and actively listening to other’s stories (para. 4 & 5).  It turns out that stories are powerful connectors.  Even Carmine Gallo dedicated a chapter to the value of stories in his book “Talk Like TED.”  In 9 Public-Speaking Lessons from the World’s Greatest TED Talks, Gallo shared how brain scans confirmed that “stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience” (p. 2).

If you want people to make a connection, share a story.  If you want people to make a difference,

make a place for people to see where they are in the story, what it means for them and what role they can play in moving the story forward
(Boundaries for Leaders – Cloud, 2013, p. 92).

As Covey stated, “Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust” (p. 40); moreover, “how you go about achieving results is as important as the results themselves, because when you establish trust, you increase your ability to get results the next time.  And there’s always a next time” (Speed of Trust, 2006, p.40). 

Connections matter.  How are you building connections?

Read Part 2 of this post.

 


Resources Referenced:

Who’s TED and Why would you want to talk like him?

A Review of
Talk Like TED:  The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
By: Carmine Gallo


book Cover      It was one of those books that kept appearing in my amazon and audible suggested reading list.  I’m a avid consumer of TED Talks, TED radio hour and local TED X events.   I love learning and 18 minute TED Talks are just enough time to learn a little bit that will hook me into learning more.  I’ve listened to hundreds of TED Talks as I drive from one location to another or weed the garden.  And you know when you find the one TED Talk that changes your perspective or just makes you stop what you are doing and think.  Sometimes I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with friends and colleagues.  I’ve often wondered why I can explain the concepts and tell the story of some TED Talks like I just listened to them, while others were interesting but I can’t remember them for very long.

In “Talk Like TED,” Carmine Gallo shared why some talks go viral and the ideas stick.  While a sticky idea is an important part of getting people to remember the information, it turns out great public speakers employ several key strategies.  Gallo explained that ideas are the currency of the 21st century and if they are delivered well, they can cause lasting change.

Based on his extensive analysis of TED Talks and presentation strategies, Gallo shared 9 key strategies that will change how you share information in a presentation.  Here’s a very quick overview as I highly recommend you listen to or read his book.  It’s filled with practical strategies.

  1. Unleash the Master within – Find what you love to talk about and share your inspiration.  Your audience will know if you don’t love what you are talking about.  Your passion shows not only in your voice but in your body language.
  2. Tell stories – Gallo noted brain research showed that stories better engage listeners.  They help you connect with your audience by sharing a piece of you.
  3. Practice – There’s no way around it.  Great TED Talks are the result of hundreds of revisions, test runs and practice.  They become a conversation not a lecture.
  4. Teach your audience something new – Humans love novelty and our brains will tune in to learn new things.  So teach them something they didn’t know before.
  5. Deliver jaw-dropping moments – This means sharing something that causes a strong emotional response.  We encode emotionally charged memories better and more accurately. So help your listeners make a connection.
  6. Use humour without telling jokes – It better connects you with your audience.
  7. Stick to about 18 minutes – Much longer and you overload people’s memories and they won’t remember what to share.
  8. Favor pictures over text – we are more likely to recall a picture that a text based bullet.
  9. Stay in your lane – Share your story and what you’ve learned.  People will connect with your authenticity.

Gallo shared personal experiences and numerous TED examples to explain the 9 strategies in a detailed and engaging way that not only makes you think about why some speakers are better able to draw you in, but how you too can share your ideas.

Leadership Connections:

  • Being a leader means sooner or later you are going to have to speak in front of other people in order to share your ideas.  Sharing ideas that connect with an audience requires more than making it up as you go along.  Keeping these 9 ideas in mind can help you shape and refine your presentation skills each time you speak to an audience.
  • Teachers address students each day.  Understanding how to share ideas not only increases the chance that students will remember but it also models presentation techniques.  Just think back to the teacher you remember the most.  I’d wager it’s not the content specifically you remember but how they delivered the content or engaged you in learning that sealed it in your memory.
  • Enhancing your ability to communicate increases the chances that your message is not only heard and understood but that it’s remembered.  Clearly communicating where you are going and how you are going to get there will move your followers forward.

 


Gallo, C. (2014). Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. New York: St. Marin’s Press.

Image – Screenshot of the cover from Amazon.ca

 

Does trust matter?

A Review of
The Speed of Trust The One Thing that Changes Everything
By: Stephen M. R. Covey
with Rebecca R. Merril


book captureThanks to the Entre Leadership podcasts I was introduced to the value of The Speed of Trust and as Stephen M. R. Covey says it really is the one thing that changes everything.  Though not directly mentioned in many leadership theories, it underlies the strength and willingness of your supporters to follow you and produce continuing results.  Covey concluded, “I have come to this simple definition of leadership: Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust” (p. 40).

Based on personal experience and noted references, Covey takes on the idea that trust is a soft, immeasurable skill with detailed explanations of why it’s really the one skill that affects everyone and everything.  From individual to group to organization and to society as a whole, the levels
(Screenshot from Amazon)

of trust we have for each other impact our daily interactions.  Covey noted that whether you are leading a group of people or just yourself trust makes a difference.  He proceeded in detail to explain the four cores of credibility which include integrity (character), intent (character), capabilities (competency) and results (competency).  Integrity comes from the combination of honesty, congruency, humility and courage and our behaviour lets people know where we are at. Intent, why we do what we do shapes our agenda.  This too leaks through in our actions.

Covey explained our talents, attitude, skills, knowledge and style (TASKS) make up our capabilities (p.94). The fourth core competency is results.  People are going to make decisions about you based on your past, present and potential results.  What I appreciate most is that for each aspect Covey presented, he offered concrete ways for you to improve trust.  As he mentioned over and over: if trust goes down, then speed goes down and costs go up. When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down.  He reminded the reader that costs may be financial but they can also be measured in human relationships.

Covey compared trust to a bank account.  You can’t just make ongoing withdrawals you have to make trust deposits and he outlined 13 specific behaviours that you can follow to grow your trust account.  These included:

  1. Talk Straight
  2. Demonstrate Respect
  3. Create Transparency
  4. Right Wrongs
  5. Show Loyalty
  6. Deliver Results
  7. Get Better
  8. Confront Reality
  9. Clarify Expectations
  10. Practice Accountability
  11. Listen First
  12. Keep Commitments ***
    Covey called this the big Kahuna. Fail to follow through on your commitments and it’s the fastest way to break trust.  Don’t say you will if you can’t (p. 215).  I would say you are safer to under promise and over deliver.
  13. Extend Trust

I appreciate Covey’s honest approach to sharing both public and personal stories and by including both positive and negative example of why trust matters.  As I read through this book I shared my readings with those I crossed paths.  While they often nodded and agreed that yes it made sense.  I think many people, including leaders often think we don’t need to work on trust we already have it.   As I reflect,  I wonder how often we as leaders (myself included) stop to ask our team members how they feel or do I make an assumption for them about trust levels?  In the end, leaders only have the opportunity to lead because of their followers.  It’s leaders interactions with people and their intent behind their interactions that strengthens or weakens the relationships.  As Covey asserted several times, trust “is the key leadership competency of the new global economy” (p.107).  Do you know where your trust account is at?

Leadership Connections: 

  • I appreciated the practical steps and strategies that Covey explained in his book.  Whether you are leading a huge team or looking to improve your self trust, this book is filled with useful strategies you can choose to apply in your own life.
  • It’s not a one time listen.  I first listened through audible and later purchased the book as a way to continue to go back and reference the key ideas.  I’ve found the supporting website helpful at reminding me of key aspects of the book along with online surveys and resources to support further development.
  • The more I learn about leadership the clearer it is that while the traits of a leader are an important part of leadership the theories which include the role of the follower are extremely significant.  True, healthy, effective leadership that produces tangible results will increase only when a leader truly makes an effort to lead his/her followers in a way that not only meets their needs but inspires them to commit to higher levels of engagement.  Leadership is a two way street and we are all on it together.

Covey, S. M. (2006). The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything. New York: Free Press.

Speed of Trust Additional Resources:

 

One of My Favourite Leadership Blogs – Leadership Freak

As I continue my search for Leadership resources and practical strategies to build strong teams and future leaders, I’m drawn back to one of my favourite blogs.  Leadership Freak  by Dan Rockwell designed, as he noted in his info, to empower leaders 300 words at a time.  And that’s what I’ve come to appreciate and am always working at improving.  The ability to shTwitter Picare useful information in a concise yet engaging fashion.  It’s what Dan Rockwell does each day.

Since January of 2010, Dan Rockwell has been sharing his ideas on leadership ranging from how to deal with underhanded resistance to servant leadership and coaching to name a few. Each offering ways to reflect on and move forward as a leader. If you are a regular reader you will also find there are opportunities to listen in to guest speakers, as well as, great recommendations for leadership resources.

So if you’re wondering about a topic and what thoughtful read that will get you thinking, the Leadership Freak blog is a great place to start.

(Image Twitter Screenshot – July 2016)

 

Switch – Why you want to add this to your leadership toolbox.

A Summary of

Switch How to Change Things When Change is Hard

By: Chip Heath and Dan Heath


While not specifically directed at the concept of leadership, Chip & Dan Heath shared straightforward strategies for dealing with change and making it last.  It’s a challenge often faced by leaders, whether you are leading a cross country team, a class of students or your own family.  Making the change not only stick but have noticeable results is a skill worth learning.  Written to include practical strategies enhanced by real life examples, the Heaths offer practical ways to address the changes in your life based on research compiled from a variety of disciplines including psychology and sociology. It’s one of my all time favourite audio books.  The stories keep you engaged and help you to remember the key points.

The Heaths explain that everyone of us has two sides and use the comparison of a rider on an elephant to help you better understand how the brain works.  The rider is the rational part and the elephant is the emotional response.  In order to make change stick you need to get the rider and elephant going in the same direction.  Chip and Dan Heath outlined three key parts to successful change.  First, you must direct the rider.  I was drawn to the research they shared that when we focus on the bright spots or what’s working, we begin to see more ways to make the change work.  In short, focus on the positive examples.  Yes we can learn from the negatives but research shows focusing on the positives will generate better results.

Second, you have to motivate the elephant.  You will exhaust the rider if you don’t get them both going in the same direction.  Willpower only lasts so long.  The Heath’s noted several examples, but what stuck in my mind is that identities can change.  What type of identity and growth mindset is linked to your team?  The innovator identity of Brasilata stands out in my as a powerful example of how changing the mindset of your team can truly transform the long term results for the better. What type of growth mindset do you carry with you?

Lastly, you have to shape the path.  Do you realize that it’s not always the people that are the problem?  The Heaths noted Lee Ross’s fundamental attribution error research that is our “inclination to attribute people’s behavior to the way they are rather than the situation they are in” (p. 180). If you tweak the environment, the situation, the context… how people respond changes.

It’s well worth the page turning read.  The Heaths share big business, education and personal examples of how these strategies can make a difference.  As with anything these research based suggestions aren’t a quick fix and you have to commit to leading the change; however, this book offers practical ways to reflect and shape the change happening around you.  Whether or not you want to do the work is up to you.

Leadership Connection:

  • Leaders are often called upon to lead the change or implement the initiatives.  Regardless of whether or not you are the president of the company or an employee, the skills you use to cope with change ripple out to those around you. The opportunity to build your toolbox and help others grow through change will change your relationship with others.
  • As an educator, the strategies offered here are applicable within a classroom, school or division level; moreover, teaching your students to navigate change will be one of the most valuable skills they can take with them into their future.

Additional Resources:

  • At heathbrothers.com you can register for a variety of free resources that highlight key aspects of the book including a summary pdf, workbooks and podcasts.

Heath, C., & Heath , D. (2010). Switch How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Toronto: Random House Canada.

 

 

 

The Super Better Leadership Connection

Why is Super Better on a list of leadership resources?

A Summary of Super Better


By: Jane McGonigal

Super Better is one of my all time favourite reads because it changes how you look at the world around you and the opportunities you have to build your resilience. Based on the idea of being gameful, Jane shares her own story of how the Super Better game began as Jane the Concussion slayer in response to her own severe concussion and subsequent depression.  In her book and TED Talk, Jane shared how she used the science of games to create her own daily challenges to help get better.

TED Talk – The Game that can give you 10 extra years of life
(Interactive Transcript)

Built around the idea that improving your physical, social, emotional and mental resilience will improve your overall health and perspective on life, Super Better uses strategies found in gaming to increase your strength, happiness and resilience (p. xi). Did you just make a face when I mentioned gaming?  Don’t worry it’s not going to try to make you into a gamer rather it pulls from rigorous game based research, which means using what science has learned about gaming to help you become healthier.  Can you play it as a game?  Yes – there’s an app for that – SuperBetter.com. What you don’t want to miss is the wealth of strategies offered that have the potential to improve your resilience.

51ohurxogil-_sx327_bo1204203200_McGoningal (2015) noted in her opening pages, “there’s a lot of evidence that it works” (p. xi) including a “randomized, controlled study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania…[and] a clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted at Ohio STate University  Wexner Medical Center” (p. xi). A summary is available at the end of the book and online at showmethescience.com

Are you intrigued?  Here’s the very quick rundown of SuperBetter. Based on the idea of post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth… which means why do some people grow stronger after extreme stress while others are weakened (p. 7).  McGonigal noted 7 key ways of “of thinking and acting that contribute to post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth. And they are all ways that we commonly think and act when we play games” (p. 7-8).

(Image Screenshot from Amazon)
  1. Adopt a challenge mindset
  2. Seek out whatever makes you stronger and happier
  3. Strive for psychological flexibility
  4. Take committed action
  5. Cultivate connectedness
  6. Find the heroic story
  7. Learn the skill of benefit finding
    (SuperBetter, p. 8-9)

The SuperBetter method helps you learn how to challenge yourself in a variety of ways that you can easily do each day.  My favourite are “power-ups” – “any positive action you can take, easily that creates a quick moment of pleasure, strength, courage or connection for you” (p. 160).  McGonigal goes on to share that these will change your “biology in extraordinarily important and long-term ways” (p.160) making you less vulnerable to stress.

Power-ups are easy and can be physical, social, emotional or mental.  It can be standing up and taking 3 steps or snapping your fingers 50 times.  Building resilience helps your body withstand stress (physical p. 14);  “improve focus, motivation and will power” (mental p. 15);  increase your ability to focus positive emotions (emotional p.16); and find support in the networks around you (social p.17).  The book is filled with examples of power-ups and the online game includes more designed both by McGonigal and other players.

Power-ups build into quests – things may push you outside your comfort zone but are achievable in the next 24 hours.  It just like teachers would do for their students.  Challenge them to stretch to what is in reach but just outside where they’ve been before.  Then you build your network of allies….what leader doesn’t need a team of strong followers.  You go on to name your own bad guys and develop your own super hero name in the ultimate search for your epic win.  Even if you are shaking your head right now, remember that each aspect has the science behind it… including giving yourself your own secret identity.

So why talk about Super Better in a class that’s focusing on leadership? As an educator and a home based business team leader, I see many benefits to building these strategies into your daily life.  Can you imagine if we explicitly planned in schools to create more resilient students? Not that teachers don’t already do this, but what if we purposefully use research based strategies to build resilient learners.  Could you imagine the toolbox of resilient strategies students would have?  Can you imagine the ripple effect?

Whether you are a team leader in business or a teacher in a classroom, what you do and how you do it affects your followers.  It affects how your followers are going to respond to tough times and hard decisions, which in turn affects how they support you as a leader.  Leadership is more than having the characteristics of a leader, it’s about how you can give back to your team members.  After all, a resilient team that builds on the strengths of each other and forms a strong supportive network is more likely to produce positive results.

And so as I write this near the beginning of my ETAD 898 – Independent Study in Leadership, I see connections building to theories of servant and transformational leadership.  I think SuperBetter offers a concrete, research based way for you to become more resilient and in turn you have the opportunity to share those strategies with those around you.

My daughter is 7 and we’ve started playing SuperBetter together.  It’s a great way for us to learn how to live healthier together.  Even better, she reminds me to do our power-ups and when she’s had a tough day we stop for a moment and look at all the positive power-ups that she’s already done and at ones that will help us feel better.

So whether you play the game faithfully or learn some simple strategies.  There’s always something to learn from the SuperBetter method.


SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient – Jane McGonigal

McGonigal, J. (2015). SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient. New York: Penguin Press.