How do you feel about the results you’re getting?

How happy are you with the results you’re getting?

I am responsible for the results I’m getting. When I’m getting good results, I’m glad this is true. When I’m not getting good results, well…I wish someone else was responsible. But I can’t avoid it—I’m responsible.

When I think about being responsible, what comes to mind includes:

  • Reading the following in Upstream: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets” (loc 331). Since I designed the system, I’m responsible. Ouch!
  • Talking with a trusted advisor about a challenging situation and hearing him say, “You made the decisions. You’re responsible.”
  • Listening to How Life Works and hearing, “Whatever results you’re getting right now, there’s a recipe that’s producing that, and that recipe is a thinking recipe…the only way to change the results is to change the…recipe.” Since my thinking is the basis of the recipe for the result I’m getting, I’m responsible.
  • Realizing that when my results improve, I get to take responsibility!

How about you? How responsible are you for the results you’re getting?

What helps you focus on results (and not on excuses)?

But the good news about being responsible is that I can do something about the results I’m getting. I can find better ways to handle things, I can make better decisions, and I can improve both my thinking and the systems I create. I can ask more questions and give less advice, I can multiply more and accidentally diminish less, and I can learn about best practices instead of relying only on what I’ve already learned.

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

What about you? How do you feel about the results you’re getting? How responsible are you for the results you’re getting? What can you do to improve your results?

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word results:

  1. “…your success is interdependent with the success of others, from subordinates and your boss to your peers and an array of external stakeholders. You judge your results by whether you succeed and also by how many others succeed along with you” (You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most, p. 155).
  2. “…real teamwork requires tangible, specific behaviors: vulnerability-based trust, healthy conflict, active commitment, peer-to-peer accountability, and a focus on results” (The Ideal Team Player, loc 199).
  3. “With the right habits, anyone can dramatically increase results and become a high performer in almost any field of endeavor” (High Performance Habits, p.12).
  4. “Communication builds trust. Trust generates commitment. Commitment fosters teamwork, and teamwork delivers great results” (The Power of Positive Leadership, loc 1416).
  5. To lead well, coaching is not optional; it’s foundational. And when coaching is done in concert with teaching and modeling, the development of those you lead will be well-rounded, with powerful results” (Lead, Develop, Care, p. 122).
  6. “How good is my own track record? How likely would someone be to hire me based on it? • How good am I at identifying desired results and executing effectively to accomplish those results? Does my performance inspire confidence and trust?” (The Speed of Trust, p. 115)
  7. “An unclear vision will not produce the results you’re after” (The Vision Driven Leader:, loc 1099).
  8. “When we try to ‘win’ arguments by whatever means are at our disposal, including persuasion, bribery, threats, and other tools of force, we don’t end up getting the results we hope for” (Why Are We Yelling?, loc 221).
  9. “Where is scarcity in your thinking impeding the best results?” (Management Mess to Leadership Success)
  10. “…culture is the unseen force that drives operating results” (Lead to Win: How to Create a Collaborative Team Culture).

What helps you during a crisis?

How can you reframe your thinking?

Reframing my thinking. Taking action. Learning something new and using it to help others. Things like this are helping me during coronavirus. What helps you? I’m asking because we’ve been in coronavirus crisis for quite a few months. And. It’s. Not. Over. 

This past week while listening to a podcast, I was challenged to reframe my thinking: “How could I change my thoughts, my feelings, my actions to produce a different recipe that produces a different result?…results are not random. Results are the consequence of a very predictable chain of events that start with circumstances that lead to thoughts which lead to feelings which leads to certain kinds of action, and then those actions ultimately lead to the results that you’re getting” (Lead to Win—How Life Works: A More Empowering Model). Wow! So much to think about! 

One way I’m working to reframe my thinking during coronavirus is to ask myself, “What does this make possible?” I’m working to notice the opportunities coronavirus provides, for example:

  • An educator shared that his school is now more effectively using technology to communicate with parents.
  • A church planter shared that he is now using technology to interact with shut-ins.
  • A grandparent shared that she is now using Readeo to read books to grandchildren online.

How about you? How can you reframe your thinking? What does this situation make possible?

What actions are you taking to address coronavirus?

In addition to reframing my thinking, I’m also taking action. Why? Because “[t]aking action reduces fear and increases courage” (John Maxwell). Because based on my life experience, I find doing something about my situation helps.

So in response to coronavirus, I pray. I talk more regularly with my family. I get more exercise—started biking this week! I stay informed about what’s happening with coronavirus where I live. I follow school guidelines by checking my temperature and health each morning. And I make sure we have an ample supply of food and medicine in case we have to quarantine. How about you? How does taking action impact you?

How can you help one person today?

Part of taking action also means learning new things and then using what I’ve learned to help others. Just yesterday while talking with a friend, I shared some quotations I’ve noted while learning about leadership. We read and discussed each quotation:

  • “…every leader and, in fact, everybody can help to maintain their emotional balance during this crisis by taking some simple self-care tips…. 1. Guard your inputs. 2. Structure your day. 3. Get physical activity. 4. Connect with people. 5. Consult a therapist if you’re feeling overwhelmed” (Lead to Win: How to Be Resilient in Tough Times).
  • “…trust is the essential ingredient for crisis leadership, and there are 4 key traits that make for trust in a leadership relationship: empathy…transparency…follow through…vision…. Which of these 4 traits…do I really need to go to work on?” (Lead to Win: The One Trait You Need to Lead Through Crisis)
  • “There are five key components to being an effective leader in crisis situations, says Madeline Dessing of Korn Ferry: Calmness, confidence, courage, resilience and empathy. All matter, but empathy has a unique role in strengthening the resolve of people who feel near a breakdown state” (Overcome Social Distance with Empathy in Leadership).

What about you? What helps you during a crisis? How can you reframe your thinking? What action can you take? What can you learn and then use to help others?

Michael

P.S Bonus! Here’s a list of 6 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word crisis:

  1. Lead to Win: The One Trait You Need to Lead Through Crisis: “…in crisis, you need to shift from building your authority to building relationships….”
  2. The 10 Laws of Trust, Location 1386: Instead of reliance on the laws of trust, low-trust leaders must fall back on the use of raw power in time of crisis.
  3. Emerge Stronger Conference: “…in crisis…the real way to emerge stronger is by focusing on the health of the organization.”
  4. Lead to Win: 4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before the Pandemic: “Even when not in a crisis, 84 percent of employees think their organizations don’t do enough to create transparency. I have to imagine that has to be in the high 90s during a crisis.”
  5. Overcome Social Distance with Empathy in Leadership: “Steve Newhall of Korn Ferry lays out four keys to how a crisis leader should take on the mantle of guiding employees through the unexpected once a vision has been defined: Communicate, act, seek clarity and maintain simplicity.”
  6. Lead to Win: How to Adjust to the New Normal: “…you can lead with confidence, despite the uncertainty of the current situation, by asking 3 key questions: #1: What did I start doing during the crisis that I’ll keep? #2: What did I stop doing during the crisis that I won’t restart? And #3: What does the new reality make possible?”

What parameters are you using?

How do you feel about boundaries?

I like parameters—I like boundaries and guidelines. Boundary lines on a soccer field help me know where to play, and boundary lines on a 2-lane road help me drive safely. Guidelines (like moral principles and job-related best practices) help me love God and my neighbor, and help me serve effectively in my job and on my projects. 

A world without parameters, boundaries, or guidelines is scary—roads without lines, behavior without moral principles, jobs without best practices. Not good. How about you? How do you feel about parameters? About boundaries? About guidelines?

What parameters (fences) are you using?

We all use parameters. It’s unavoidable. And I find it helpful to review and clarify parameters. So, here goes!

  • My life parameters include loving God and my neighbor (Luke 10:27), carrying out the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and building up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).
  • My job parameters include focusing on mission, serving as the living curriculum, and using best practice, including getting the task done while developing people.
  • My team parameters include building a cohesive team (based on trust, healthy conflict, commitment, peer accountability, and a focus on results) and on creating clarity (by defining answers to 6 questions).
  • My parameters for a current project include making core documents (mission, vision, philosophy) organization-wide, student-centered, and user-friendly (memorable, memorizable, and accessible).
What happens when the parameters (lines) are clear? Are unclear?

What’s your experience in working with unclear team and/or project parameters? In my experience unnecessary stress can arise when people aren’t clear on things like:

  • Organizational parameters: mission, vision, values, and philosophy.
  • Expected practice parameters: proactivity instead of reactivity, prevention instead of cure, asking questions instead of giving advice, and using collaboration to manage conflict instead of using avoidance, competition, accommodation, or compromise.
  • Project parameters: purpose, deadline, who decides what, applicable policies and procedures, and cost. 

What about you? How do you feel about parameters? What parameters are you using for your life, your job, your team, and your project? What’s your experience when parameters are unclear?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning from The Art of Leadership: Small Things, Done Well:

  • Location 140: “As a Manager: Have 1:1s…. Each month, ask yourself how you are investing in your growth…. Let others change your mind, and tell them when they have.”
  • Location 150: “As a Director…. Delegate until it hurts….Have a staff meeting that has weekly metrics….If your team is growing, your ways of working will constantly need to evolve.”
  • Location 159: “As an Executive…. Build a team that understands itself…. Make it clear that leadership can come from anywhere in the team…. Find and cultivate a mentor.”

Michael

What happens when there’s increased clarity on the basics?

What happens when you have clarity?

Improved understanding, confidence, and collaboration. That’s what I saw a team get as a result of documenting answers to 6 basic questions. Only 6 questions: What’s our mission? What’s our vision? What do we value? What’s our strategic plan? What’s our team’s role? What’s most important right now?

As a result of discussing the 6 questions and documenting answers for the 6 questions on 1 page (keep it short!), the team demonstrated…

  • Improved understanding by using key terms more frequently and with greater intentionality.
  • Improved confidence when proposing and analyzing ideas, saying things like, “That isn’t really aligned with….”
  • Improved collaboration—as everyone was clear on what “game” they were playing.

Amazing what happens where a group gets increased clarity on the basics! How about you? What’s your experience when a group gets increased clarity on the basics? When you get increased clarity on the basics?

What are the basics?

What do I mean by “basics”? I mean the fundamentals. I mean simple things that when consistently executed bring results. I mean things like… 

  • Documenting answers to the 6 questions.
  • Doing weekly 1-on-1s with direct reports.
  • Using key performance indicators to track progress and promote accountability.

You may be thinking, “Do I really need to make sure people are clear on those basic things?” In a word, “Yes!” And in the words of Unlocking Potential:

  • Eighty-five percent of respondents don’t know the goals of the organization they work for; 44 percent of the people say they know, but when asked to identify the goals, only 15 percent can actually do it” (loc 820).
  • Seventy-nine percent of the respondents are not held accountable for lack of progress made towards critically important goals. Only 21 percent meet with their bosses even as often as monthly to assess achievement of their most important goals” (loc 826).
  • “Without clear, measurable goals, a tracking system, and frequent, regular accountability, a team has little chance of fulfilling the strategy. It’s the job of the leaders to make sure these things are in place” (loc 1521).
What happens when you lack clarity?

What else do I mean by basics? I mean things like…

  • Listen more than you talk. When you talk, ask more than you advise.
  • Build a cohesive team based on trust, healthy conflict, commitment, peer accountability, and a focus on results.
  • Overcommunicate the answers to the 6 basic questions. “If you’re the CEO, you’re also the CRO, which stands for Chief Reminding Officer…. Your job is to make sure that the people in your charge understand what is important and what is happening, and if you don’t do that, no one else can. It’s one of the most important jobs of a leader, and yet…most leaders don’t like to repeat themselves” (At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 59. Don’t Make Me Repeat Myself).
  • Being sure to understand what someone is sharing. I’ve found paraphrasing to be quite helpful.

Getting increased clarity on the basics is a challenge. What helps me includes:

  • Reading, reading, reading—on coaching, on organizational health, and on leadership best practice. I recently read The Art of Leadership: Small Things Done Well.
  • Doing the basics—listening more than I talk, holding 1-on-1s, and using key performance indicators to track progress. Doing the basics gives me greater clarity on the basics.
  • Getting coaching.

What about you? What happens when there’s increased clarity on the basics? What are the basics? What helps you get increased clarity on the basics?

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • The Art of Leadership, p. 36: “When you are actively listening, and when their ideas visibly change your decisions, you build trust. When diversity of opinion is valued and creates health debate, you create trust.”
  • At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 59. Don’t Make Me Repeat Myself: “…the cost of under communicating is so much higher than the cost of over communicating, and yet most CEOs…I know will complain about having to repeat themselves and to remind people of things.”
  • Michael Simpson: “Great leaders remember to talk less and listen more. Most of your talking should consist of asking powerful questions with active listening.”

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word clarity:

  1. At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 42. Why Your CEO Doesn’t Get It: “…people underestimate the power of just simple clarity….”
  2. The Vision Driven Leader, Location 1085: “Clarity breeds calm. It also breeds confidence.”
  3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, p. 121: “When there is a lack of clarity, people waste time and energy on the trivial many. When they have sufficient levels of clarity, they are capable of greater breakthroughs and innovations—greater than people even realize they ought to have—in those areas that are truly vital.”
  4. The Advantage, p. 141: “Once a leadership team has become cohesive and worked to establish clarity and alignment around the answers to the six critical questions, then, and only then, can they effectively move on to the next step: communicating those answers. Or better yet, overcommunicating those answers—over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.”
  5. The 10 Laws of Trust, loc 816: “Trust grows when expectations are unambiguous. People need to know what winning looks like and where they stand on the path to victory. Trust comes with a scoreboard, with clarity around how results will be measured. Having no gauges is a setup for confusion. When people know what they’re expected to achieve, they can focus on doing it rather than trying to figure out what matters most. They can trust the system.”
  6. The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities, loc 1665: “One of the main responsibilities of a leader is to confront difficult, awkward issues quickly and with clarity, charity, and resolve.”
  7. The Advantage, p. 122: “…the primary purpose of the thematic goal is not necessarily to rally all the troops within the organization, as helpful as that may seem. More than anything else, it is to provide the leadership team itself with clarity around how to spend its time, energy, and resources.”
  8. The Advantage, p. 173: “Bad meetings are the birthplace of unhealthy organizations, and good meetings are the origin of cohesion, clarity, and communication.”
  9. At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 48. Plant Your Friggin Tree: “Clarity over certainty.”
  10. Lead to Win: 3 Challenges in Managing Change: “…every leader can overcome resistance to change by addressing…the change challenge, which you overcome with clarity about what’s changing and what’s not….”

How do you feel about learning?

What do you like to learn about?

I like learning. A lot. And this past week, I got to learn—I finished reading Your Brain at Work, participated in an online workshop on the Lead-Develop-Care framework, blogged on the question to advice ratio, watched an intriguing video featuring Simon Sinek, and listened to a podcast on the importance of taking time to do nothing. What about you? How do you feel about learning?

As I reflect over the past 3 months, I’m encouraged to see that I’m learning. Things like…

  1. Do simple things consistently.
  2. Be sure to understand what’s really going on—what the sobering truth is.
  3. The most common form of accidentally diminishing others is when a leader “simply lends a hand, resolves a problem, and helps people across the finish line” (Multipliers, loc 3007).
  4. Make 1-on-1s all about direct reports.
  5. Ask more; advise less.
  6. Increase trust by creating clarity and clarifying expectations.
  7. Mine for conflict; don’t avoid it.
  8. Intentionally prevent problems.
  9. Develop and use a toolbox.
  10. Grow now. Right now.
What podcasts do you enjoy listening to?

One way I’m applying my learning this week is using questions while consulting for a mission’s leadership team:

  • I’m using a question-based agenda: What role does clarity play? What do you need to be aware of regarding your new mission statement? What do you need to do to implement the values? What’s most important right now?
  • I’m doing the Extreme Question Challenge.
  • I’m encouraging team members to ask questions.

What about you? How important is learning? What have you learned in the past 3 months? How are you using what you learned? 

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word learn or learning or learned:

  1. “…everyone can learn. And, in fact, everyone needs to keep learning Lead, Develop, Care, p. 102).
  2. “People don’t really learn when you tell them something. They don’t even really learn when they do something. They start learning, start creating new neural pathways, only when they have a chance to recall and reflect on what just happened” (The Coaching Habit, p. 187).
  3. “You learn from your decisions…. When you’re not sure, take action because as you act, you learn from that action and you actually improve…. Make a decision and course correct along the way” (At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 48. Plant Your Friggin Tree)
  4. “…failure is just simply part of the learning process” (On Leadership—Build Your Career: Anne Chow).
  5. “When we protect people from experiencing the natural ramifications of their actions, we stunt their learning. Real intelligence gets developed through experimentation and by trial and error” (Multipliers, loc 2762).
  6. “The reality is you’re not going to innovate if people don’t feel like they can make a mistake and learn. And they won’t feel that way if they don’t feel that there’s trust there, that people have their back, that they’re allowed to take a risk, a responsible risk” (On Leadership: Innovate at The Speed of Trust: Stephen M. R. Covey).
  7. ”…leadership is about helping people and groups solve tough problems by spurring adaptive learning. It’s less about answers and more about questions. It’s less about building silos and more about breaking them down. It’s less about stroking your ego and more about stoking change” (Influence in Action, p 1).
  8. “If you want your people to learn more, pay attention to what’s working for them right now, and then build on that” (Nine Lies About Work, loc 1782).
  9. “Leadership can be learned; however, not everyone wants to learn it, and not all those who learn about leadership master it. Why? Because becoming the very best requires a strong belief that you can learn and grow, an intense aspiration to excel, the determination to challenge yourself constantly, the recognition that you must engage the support of others, and the devotion to practice deliberately” (The Leadership Challenge, loc 6720).
  10. “Read, learn, and grow. Just like our students, we will get better at leading and communicating when we learn about it. Grow your professional library with books and articles, and start following blogs and other leaders in and outside of education. Follow other leaders on social media channels to see their practice in daily action” (Leading with Grace, loc 1474).

What’s your question to advice ratio?

What ratios do you use?

Ratios are helpful. They guide me. For example, when coaching someone, I use the 4:1 ratio—I use 4 parts listening to 1 part talking. How about you? What ratios do you find helpful?

Recently, ratios have caused me to reflect. For example, I found the 5:1 ratio—the amount of support people give to what they create compared to the amount of support people give to what someone else creates. “You have to ask them openly and candidly what they think might be the right solution and then help them embrace that and move forward along their solution…as a leader you want them to have their fingerprints on the solution because they’ll be that much more likely to support it and to ensure that it’s successful” (On Leadership: Talk Less. Ask More: Michael Simpson, Maria Sullivan, and Kari Saddler). 

The 5:1 ratio fits well with my 4:1 ratio. Asking questions works better than giving advice. I’m feeling good!

How do you feel about asking questions more often?

But then I ran across the 95:15 ratio—the percentage of people who believe they are self aware to the percentage of people who are actually self aware. “‘That means, on a good day, about 80 percent of people are lying about themselves—to themselves’’’ (The Importance of Self-Awareness with Tasha Eurich). Ouch! Now I’m wondering how often I have been talking instead of asking questions, and giving advice instead of asking questions. Like I said, “Ouch!”

And then I read about the 13:87 ratio—the percentage when giving advice about what to do or not to do actually helps compared to the percentage when giving advice does not help. Double ouch!

Just to spell it out fully, “when someone hits an impasse, telling her what not to think tends to help only 5 percent of the time. Giving people clues about what they should think about tends to help only 8 percent of the time. One of the most common strategies human beings use to help one another solve problems involves these techniques: giving advice about what to do or what not to do” (Your Brain at Work, loc 3347).

When do you tend to give advice?

So, now I’m not only wondering about my actual ratios of listening to talking, of asking to giving advice, and of empowering others to accidentally diminishing others—according to Liz Wiseman, the most common form of accidentally diminishing of others is when a leader “simply lends a hand, resolves a problem, and helps people across the finish line” (Multipliers, loc 3007). Triple ouch!

Why do I give advice instead of asking questions? 

  • Because there are times when advice is actually helpful. Yes, I recognize that giving advice about what to do and not to do works only 13% of the time, but it does work. 
  • Because I prioritize addressing the problem over developing someone. Why? “Because problem-solving can be exhausting, it’s logical to want to conserve energy and head straight to solutions” (Your Brain at Work, loc 3320).
  • Because I’m human, and I don’t consistently execute on asking questions instead of giving advice.
What do you want to stop doing?

So, what am I going to do? Recommit to ratios—4:1, 5:1, and 13:87. I’m also going to try the Extreme Question Challenge

What about you? What ratios do you find helpful? What’s your question to advice ratio? Why do you give advice instead of asking questions? If you’d like to learn more about questions, you could: 

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • On Leadership: Move From Expert Leader to Spanning Leader: Wanda Wallace: “…name a leader that you admire that has been really useful for you and the organization that you think does a great job. And then ask yourself, ‘What is it that person does that makes me value them so much?’ I promise you it won’t be about their content knowledge. It will be about their people skills, their use of their network, their care of talent, their ability to identify talent, develop that talent, get feedback—that human stuff.”
  • You Can’t Know It All, p. 4: “All leaders need to figure out how they add value, how they get the right work done, and how they interact with people.”
  • Your Brain at Work, loc 655: “…constant emailing and text-messaging reduces mental capability by an average of ten points on an IQ test. It was five points for women, and fifteen points for men.”

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word question or questions:

  1. “While micromanagers focus on telling people what to do, the best leaders guide and empower their people by asking questions—questions that encourage the team to design, and decide on, their own course of action” (Leading with Questions: Micromanagers Tell. Leaders Ask.).
  2. “Joe Folkman of Zenger Folkman found that leaders who default to giving advice ‘resist feedback from others, are less likeable and are ineffective at developing others.’ In a similar vein, leadership researcher Liz Wiseman found that ‘intellectual curiosity’—asking questions and being more coach-like—was the characteristic that most distinguished leaders who best created impact (called Multiplier leaders) from those who didn’t” (The Advice Trap, p. 7).
  3. “Diminishers give answers. Good leaders ask questions. Multipliers ask the really hard questions. They ask the questions that challenge people not only to think but to rethink. They ask questions so immense that people can’t answer them based on their current knowledge or where they currently stand. To answer these questions, the organization must learn” (Multipliers, , loc 1827).
  4. Questions develop people. They help people escape the trap of their mental models by broadening their perspectives and enlarging their responses by taking responsibility for their viewpoints” (The Leadership Challenge, loc 1981).
  5. “Asking questions, being visible, and seeking input are three key ways to become assertive in your work, without pushing a perceived personal agenda” (Leading with Grace, loc 1509).
  6. “…leadership is about helping people and groups solve tough problems by spurring adaptive learning. It’s less about answers and more about questions” (Influence in Action, p. 1).
  7. Great questions invite great answers, and the best answers surprise us by revealing something that we truly didn’t understand before” (Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement, loc 1545).
  8. “If you want better answers, you’ve got to ask better questions!” (Want A Better Answer? Ask A Better Question!)
  9. “Here are the seven questions to ask during each coaching session 1. What’s on your mind? 2. And what else? 3. What’s the real challenge here for you? 4. What do you want? 5. How can I help? 6. If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to? 7. What was most useful for you?” (The Coaching Habit ‒ 7 Questions to Ask)
  10. “One of the most compelling things you can do after asking a question is to genuinely listen to the answer. Stay curious, my friend” (The Coaching Habit, p. 155).

What questions can you ask right now to help others grow?

What’s 1 question you can ask today to help someone grow?

Questions are an effective way to spur growth. When coaching and consulting, questions I find helpful include:

  • How are you? How’s the team?
  • What does this make possible?
  • What’s the real challenge here for you?
  • How is your system perfectly designed to produce this problem?
  • Why would a reasonable, rational, decent person do this?
  • How might you (with best intentions) actually be diminishing others?

As I start into the fall term of school, I’m asking myself, “What questions can I ask right now to help others grow?” How would you answer that question? Helping others grow is vital. Think of those around you—colleagues, coaching/consulting clients, church members, family members. You can help them grow. What questions can you ask right now to help others grow? Here are 3 questions I’m asking.

How can you help your team pull together?

Question 1: How can you further build a cohesive team? A cohesive team (characterized by trust, healthy conflict, commitment, peer accountability, and focus on results) is more effective than a fragmented team (characterized by mistrust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and lack of focus on results). 

So, how can you further build a cohesive team? Consider 1 or more of the following:

  • Deepen your understanding of the 5 dysfunctions of a team by reading this book and/or watching this video.
  • Build relationships by starting your weekly staff meetings by asking, “Since we last met, what’s been 1 high and 1 low for you?
  • Have the team define and implement a team goal. 
  • During meetings, mine for conflict. Say things like, “It looks like you 2 have different perspectives on this—tell us more about what you’re thinking.”
How important is clarity?

Question 2: How can you further develop shared clarity? With clarity, teams are effective—meaning, without clarity, teams are less effective and maybe ineffective. You can help teams be effective by helping them further develop clarity. 

What ideas do you have for further developing shared clarity. Things that come to mind for me include:

  • Review the role clarity plays. Ask, “What happens when we have shared clarity and when we don’t?”
  • Reflect on quotations regarding clarity, for example, “When there is a lack of clarity, people waste time and energy on the trivial many. When they have sufficient levels of clarity, they are capable of greater breakthroughs and innovations—greater than people even realize they ought to have—in those areas that are truly vital” (Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, p. 121).
  • Get on same page by having the group develop and document answers to these 6 questions
  • Review these 6 questions and answers at each weekly staff meeting.
How can you improve your meetings?

Question 3: How can you make meetings one of the best things you do? Good meetings result in staff and organizational growth, while bad meetings result in boredom and stagnation. Good meetings result in good decisions, while bad meetings result in bad decisions. 

How would you improve meetings? Things that come to mind for me include

  • Stating agenda items as questions.
  • Sending out the agenda 3-7 days before the meeting,
  • Starting the meeting by focusing on people. Ask questions: How are you?  Since we last met, what’s been 1 high and 1 low for you?
  • Setting the context by reviewing your team’s responses to 6 key questions and by explaining what’s at stake—add some drama!
  • Mining for conflict. Say things like, “It might be uncomfortable, and please be sure to share what you’re thinking. We need everyone’s contribution.”
  • Documenting commitments made during the meeting. Review them at the end of the meeting.
  • Closing the meeting by asking, “How did our meeting go today?”

What about you? What questions can you ask right now to help others grow? How can you further build a cohesive team? How can you further develop shared clarity? How can you make meetings one of the best things you do? 

What are you learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

Michael
P.S. A playbook (see The Advantage, 134ff) is a great tool to help your team further develop cohesiveness, further develop shared understanding, and improve meetings. In your playbook, you can do things like document your team’s responses to 6 key questions, identify the role of each team member, and identify each team member’s personality type and conflict style. If this interests you, here’s a playbook template I put together.

What’s the sobering truth?

When’s the last time you misunderstood what was happening?

My perspective? My wife and I are are going out to eat! It’s been a long week for her, I know she likes Mexican food, so at breakfast I suggested we go out for Mexican food. She smiled! As we head out, I say we could also go out for Thai or vegetarian or Indian. I’m feeling good about offering options and about being willing to go wherever my wife wants to go. 

Sobering truth? My wife has been looking forward all day to going for Mexican food, and when I share other options, she feels like I’ve poured cold water all over her joy of going out to eat. Bummer. (And now she’s unhappy. With. Me.)

The point? Be sure you understand what’s really going on—what the sobering truth is. Ask yourself this question: How might I (with best intentions) actually be diminishing others? Then, watch this video. I found this exercise quite helpful, and I couldn’t believe the dumb things (yes, dumb things) I’ve done as a leader.

How might you actually be diminishing others?

What sobering truths have captured your attention recently? Here are 10 of mine:

  • “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets” (Paul Batalden as quoted in Upstream, loc 331).
  • “…healthy organizations beat smart ones every time” (CAPA: Virtual Teams).
  • “…when trust is low, speed goes down and cost goes up. When trust is high, speed goes up and cost goes down” (The Speed of Trust, p. 16).
  • “…culture is the unseen force that drives operating results…culture is nothing more and nothing less than the behavior of its leaders. If you want to change an organization’s culture, you have to change the behavior of its leaders” (Lead to Win: How to Create a Collaborative Team Culture).
  • “Who we are is how we lead” (Daring to Lead, loc 295).
  • “Success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory, but rather of embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence” (The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, p. 220).
  • “If you’re having bad meetings, you’re making bad decisions” (The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities, loc 1178). 
  • “You can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into” (The 10 Laws of Trust, loc 256).
  • “If you only lead and develop but don’t care, people will feel unimportant and neglected…. If you develop and care but don’t lead, people will feel important, but nothing will get accomplished…. Finally, if you care and lead but do not develop, people stagnate and underperform” (Lead, Develop, Care, pp. 18-19).
  • “A person who is not humble will not be able to be vulnerable and build trust, making them unable to engage in honest conflict and hold others accountable. And they’ll have a hard time committing to decisions that don’t serve their interests” (The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues, loc 2310). 
How can you apply 1 or more sobering truths?

I’ve benefited from thinking about sobering truths, and one way I’m applying what I’ve learned is by asking the following 5 questions when coaching, consulting, and mentoring:

  1. What does this make possible?
  2. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  3. How is your system perfectly designed to produce this problem?
  4. Why would a reasonable, rational, decent person do this?
  5. How might you (with best intentions) actually be diminishing others?

What about you? When’s the last time you misunderstood what was happening? What sobering truths have captured your attention recently? How can you apply 1 or more sobering truths?

What have you been learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Daring to Lead, loc 1182: “What is the one thing that people who can fully lean into joy have in common? Gratitude. They practice gratitude.”
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, p. 121: “When there is a lack of clarity, people waste time and energy on the trivial many. When they have sufficient levels of clarity, they are capable of greater breakthroughs and innovations—greater than people even realize they ought to have—in those areas that are truly vital.”
  • Factfulness, loc 1284: “When we are afraid, we do not see clearly.”

Michael

P.S. If the sobering truth is that your supervisor is an accidentally diminisher, watch this video to learn how to address this.

To what extent should missionaries be expected to implement organizational values?

What makes you uncomfortable?

Uncomfortable. You feel uncomfortable. Your mission has just updated its values. As field leader, you learned about this through an email you just received. Hmm.

Among other things, you feel uncomfortable because….

  • You don’t recall being told the values were under review or being asked for any input. You wonder, “What role do I play as field leader in organizational change?”
  • You’ve been leading an initiative to help your team better understand and implement the organizational values. Missionaries have been somewhat cynical, but you made progress, and now the values have been changed. You wonder, “How are team members going to respond to the change?”
  • You re-read the email, noting that it doesn’t include an explanation as to why the values were updated, what process was used, how the updated values compare to the previous values, what training will be provided, or what the expectations are for using the updated values. You wonder, “What’s the home office’s expectations for understanding and implementing the upgraded values?”
  • Then you recall the awkward situations you’ve faced when trying to live out the organizational values in another culture, when working to develop a church that has different values, while working to do incarnational (rather than paternalistic) ministry. And there are only so many values you can really focus on living out—so which values do you focus on—those of the church you are working with or the organization. You wonder, “To what extent should missionaries be expected to implement organizational values?”
What happens when you take time to reflect? When you don’t?

You feel uncomfortable—actually, not good. You know missionaries on your field will be looking to you for leadership on this. Now what? How will you proceed? Let me suggest you take time to reflect, possibly on questions like these:

  • How can you enhance your understanding of organizational values? 
  • What process can your field use to reflect on your organizational values and their implementation?
  • What questions might help your field reflect on your organizational values and their implementation?
What would be helpful to learn about organizational values?

(1) How can you enhance your understanding of organizational values? What books and articles can you read, what podcasts can you list to, and what videos can you watch? Here are some resources I’ve found helpful:

(2) What process can your field use to reflect on your organizational values and their implementation? Who establishes the purpose, parameters, and process? Who can participate? What’s the venue? What’s the timeline? Who makes decisions and takes action? How will non-participants learn about what’s happening?

What role do questions play?

(3) What questions might help your field reflect on your organizational values and their implementation? Questions that come to mind for me include:

  1. What are your organization’s values? 
  2. What’s 1 thing that interests you about your organization’s values?
  3. What excites/concerns you about your organization’s values?
  4. What helps/hinders your field’s understanding and implementation of your organization’s values?
  5. Which of your organization’s values are core values? Permission-to-play values? Accidental values? Aspirational values? (see How to Write Meaningful Company Values)
  6. Given the types of values your organization has (core, permission-to-play, accidental, aspirational), what primary problems are your organization actually trying to address by having values? (For example, drive culture? Maintain culture? Guide hiring? Keep donors happy? Avoid looking stupid by not having values?) To what extent do those problems actually apply/not apply to your field? 
  7. How are your organization’s values currently used by the home office? To what extent does the home office require missionaries on the field to use the values in planning, reporting, establishing processes, and so forth?
  8. What’s the (unacknowledged) primary setting in which the values are expected to be used? (For example, North America/individual field? Culture? Teams/pioneer missionaries working alone? Involved in mission work/stay-at-home-spouse? Men/women/both? Leadership/direct reports/all?) How does the (unacknowledged) primary setting impact how values are implemented?
  9. Which values take precedence? The values of the organizations with which missionaries work on the field or the organization’s values?
  10. How is the field currently using the values? To what extent are current initiatives aligned with or in violation of 1 or more organizational values?
  11. Values are better caught than taught. How does this affect your field’s implementation or non-implementation of values with missionaries who work in the field office? In isolation?
  12. What are the pros/cons of following your home office’s lead on values implementation? Of exceeding your home office’s lead on values implementation?
  13. What will you do?

What about you? How can you enhance your understanding of organizational values? What process can your field use to reflect on your organizational values and their implementation? What questions might help your field reflect on your organizational values and their implementation?

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word values:

  1. “Mission who you are [•] Vision where you’re going [•] Strategy how you’re going to get there [•] Values the kind of people you are along the way” (The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business, loc 1497).
  2. Values are about who. Who are we as we take this journey? Who are we becoming along the way? It’s about our character and our culture and our behavior, and core values really guide you in a number of ways” (Lead to Win: 4 Essential Documents for Leading Your Business).
  3. “Your mindset is the values, attitudes, and goals—conscious or unconscious—that inform your behavioral choices. A mindset is not what you say you value, or even what you think you value; it’s what you actually value”( Influence in Action, p. 73).
  4. “…you can guide your business well if you get a handle on the four documents that form the foundation of any healthy organization. The first document is a vision script, and that tells you where you’re headed. The second document is a mission statement, which tells you what you do. The third document is a strategic plan, which is about how you will get to your destination. And the fourth document is core values, which say who you are and who you’re becoming along the way” (Lead to Win: 4 Essential Documents for Leading Your Business).
  5. “Bad culture destroys business. Get serious about culture by writing down a set of core values. Let these values drive what you reward. Get clear about what’s not tolerated. Then make sure you follow your own rules. Leaders’ commitment to company values will trickle down the org chart. Build trust and engage employees by investing in your culture” (7 Attributes of a Healthy Business).
  6. Values are great, but you really want to get down to the behaviors” (At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 37. Lean in to Discomfort).
  7. “To gain influence with others, (1) teach them how to think about themselves, others, and the world; (2) challenge them to develop their character, connections, and contributions; and (3) role model the values you wish to see them embody” (High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Became That Way, p. 229).
  8. “When people can rally around a common goal, reaching for a summit that’s consistent with their values, they’ll sacrifice together, lift each other’s burdens, and do their utmost not to let each other down” (The 10 Laws of Trust, loc 989). 
  9. “All exemplary leaders understand that you have to reinforce the fundamental values that are essential to building and sustaining the kind of culture you want. Key performance measures and reward systems are among the many methods available to you. Recruitment, selection, onboarding, training, information, retention, and promotion systems are other meaningful ways to teach people how to enact values and how to align decisions with them. The norms and practices of your team and organization send signals about what is valued and what isn’t, so they must be consistent with the shared values and standards that you’re trying to teach” (The Leadership Challenge, loc 2167).
  10. “Curate and communicate examples of how the organization is adhering to its cultural values through new practices. Because things look so different in a Covid world, you will need to actively seek out, curate, and highlight new examples of your desired culture” (Don’t Let the Pandemic Sink Your Company Culture).

How can you be more of a multiplier and less of an accidental diminisher?

What impact might you be having on others?

Did you know that “the vast majority of the diminishing happening inside our workplaces is done with the best of intentions, by what I call the Accidental Diminisher—good people trying to be good managers”? (Multipliers, loc 110). While I want to be a multiplier, I recognize that with best intentions, I actually diminish others at times. According to Liz Wiseman, the most common form of accidentally diminishing others is when a leader “simply lends a hand, resolves a problem, and helps people across the finish line” (Multipliers, loc 3007). Ouch! And who knew?

How might you (with best intentions) actually be diminishing others?

So I’m asking myself, “To what extent am I an accidental diminisher?” Based on a self-assessment and on feedback from others, I recognize that I struggle with being a strategist, resulting in people coming to me for answers, rather than developing answers on their own. (9 Accidental Diminisher Tendencies provides a helpful summary of the 9 tendencies and identifies leaders who recognize they have a given tendency—which means other leaders have these tendencies and I am not alone!)

To reduce my accidental diminisher tendency of strategist, I’m asking more questions and getting others involved in strategic planning on the ground floor. How about you? How could you reduce your accidental diminisher tendency?

How can you be more of a multiplier?

I don’t just want to reduce my accidental diminisher tendency; I also want to be more of a multiplier. So, I’m intentionally doing the following:

How can you use questions to help other grow?

I’m also finding out what actually helps people by using the SAM process:

  • See others—find out what would help actually others (instead of guessing and then possibly accidentally diminishing them).
  • Adjust efforts—do something to be even more helpful.
  • Measure impact—talk to the person to see how helpful my adjustment was.

To learn more about the SAM process, watch 3 minutes of How Outward Mindset Improves Results and Makes Things Easier (15:13 – 18:27):

How can you learn more about multiplying and accidental diminishing? Explore 1 or more of the following:

What about you? To what extent are you an accidental diminisher? How can you reduce your diminisher tendencies? How can you be more of a multiplier? How can you learn more? 

What are your learning?

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 56. Politics Sucks: “…politics in the workplace…one of the most painful, damaging, and success-killing realities in business…politics is when people choose their words and actions not based on what they actually think but based on what they want others to do as a reaction. It’s a form of manipulation, and it’s a violation of honesty. Now, the opposite of politics then is truth-telling or raw honesty, and it’s hard to imagine making a case for anything but that when it comes to a group of people that is trying to get the most done in the least amount of time in a way that produces the best ideas or products.”
  • The Leadership Challenge, loc 427: “What did you do when you were at your personal best as a leader?”
  • Multipliers, loc 277: “How do some leaders create intelligence around them, while others diminish it?”

Michael

P.S. Bonus! Here’s a list of 10 quotations from things I’ve read or listened to that contain the word multiplier,  multipliers, multiplied, or multiplication:

  1. At the Table with Patrick Lencioni: 1. Being Smart is Overrated: “Health is the great multiplier of intelligence.”
  2. The Speed of Trust, p 266: “High-trust companies are better able than low-trust companies to execute their organization’s strategy. For leaders, teams and organizations that operate with high trust, such trust becomes a multiplier—and an accelerator—of their ability to execute the strategy. When there’s low trust, everything takes longer and costs more—or gets derailed altogether.”
  3. The 10 Laws of Trust, loc 236: “All the things we need to do well as leaders—innovating, collaborating, partnering, teaming, attracting and retaining people, engaging people, executing, selling, leading change—we can do better if we start with trust. Trust is a multiplier for all these competencies, eventually creating a ripple effect that can positively impact not only our organizations but ultimately, all of society.”
  4. On Leadership: You Don’t Need to Be the Smartest Person in the Room: Liz Wiseman: “…the diminisher assumes that nobody’s going to figure it out without me…whereas the multiplier assumes that people are smart and going to figure it out.”
  5. Multipliers, loc 485: “Multipliers see intelligence as continually developing. This observation is consistent with what Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset,’ a belief that basic qualities like intelligence and ability can be cultivated through effort. They assume that people are smart and will figure it out. To their eyes, their organization is full of talented people who are capable of contributing at much higher levels.”
  6. Are Your Strengths Hurting Your Team?: “…diminishers get less than half of the available intelligence of people they work with…. Whereas multipliers get virtually all of it…. People describe working for these diminishing leaders as frustrating and exhausting….”
  7. Multipliers, loc 435: “Here is the logic behind multiplication: 1. Most people in organizations are underutilized. 2. All capability can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership. 3. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without requiring a bigger investment.”
  8. The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the Way You Lead Forever, p 7:”…leadership researcher Liz Wiseman found that ‘intellectual curiosity’—asking questions and being more coach-like—was the characteristic that most distinguished leaders who best created impact (called Multiplier leaders) from those who didn’t.”
  9. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You, p. 26: “Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.”
  10. Multipliers, loc 2185: “While Diminishers raise issues, dominate discussions, and force decisions, Multipliers: 1) frame the issues; 2) spark the debate; and 3) drive sound decisions.”