As Buddha said, we can use our minds to drive our behaviors. Developing a more strategic way of thinking leads to more strategic behaviors.
In fact, leadership development expert Melissa Karz highlights how having a “strategic mindset gives you a lens to think big in every moment.” In a recent article, she suggests practicing four specific habits to develop your own strategic mindset.
Align to Organizational Objectives. Asking yourself the following questions can help you stay aligned and take the actions necessary to help your team be aligned to the vision, values and goals of your organization.
- Where are we today and where do we want to be in 12 months?
- What skills am I missing, and is my team missing, to accomplish those goals?
- What relationships do I need to build or nurture?
- How are we defining success now, and in the future?
Identify Highest Value Activities. Strategic thinking means scanning all the demands, options, requests, and opportunities and identifying the ones that will best support short-term and long-term success. Prioritization means saying no or delegating. High value activities include:
- Coaching and developing your direct reports.
- Building relationships and networks to facilitate collaboration and a broader perspective.
- Creating a direct line of sight for your team so they can see how their work contributes to the big picture.
Seek Under-The-Radar Information. The reality is that leaders are shielded from much of the information they actually need. It is human nature to withhold bad news or to hesitate to “bother” leaders. To overcome this leaders need to actively seek out information and make it easier for people to share information, even bad news. Practice:
- Asking questions.
- Using mistakes as a learning opportunity.
- Reinforcing open and transparent communication.
- Taking time to meet with colleagues and peers.
- Meeting with people outside your own industry.
Schedule Time for Reflection. Developing a strategic mindset requires action and reflection. Scheduling time to analyze and assess what you have learned, what you want to continue doing, and what you want to do differently is strategic. Just like you schedule important meetings, dedicating scheduled time daily, weekly, quarterly and annually is a challenging but necessary habit to develop.
Over time these habits reinforce a strategic mindset which leads to more strategic behaviors further establishing strategic habits making strategic leadership a part of who you are.
Posted in build organizational talent, building teams, Developing Capacity, Leadership, Strategic leadership
Tagged asking questions, Leadership, leadership development, organizational culture, questions, self reflection, transparency, values, vision
As a kid the start of a new school year was both exciting and a little unnerving. A chance to build on what you did last year and a chance to make a fresh start!
Similarly, when you are a new leader or an experienced leader each day is a new start. A chance to build on your experience and the opportunity to make a fresh leadership start.
Amy Jen Su, author and co-founder of the executive coaching and leadership development firm Paravis Partners, encourages leaders to “step back and think about your leadership presence and if you are thinking, saying, and showing up as you most hope to and intend.” In her Harvard Business review article she highlights four key fresh start actions for both new and experienced leaders.
- Set or update a leadership values-based goal. Your people pay great attention to what you do and how you do it. Having an aspirational other-directed goal to guide your daily decisions and actions will directly impact the perceptions your team has of you and will strengthen your relationships at work.
- Continue to develop and increase your emotional intelligence and situational awareness. Leaders get work done through others and everyone on your team is different and every situation is different. Different motivations, different perspectives, different backgrounds, different experiences, and on and on. You need to be agile and adaptive. A starting point is to ask yourself the following questions before important interactions:
- Who is the other person or audience?
- What might their (not yours) perspective on this topic be?
- How are they best motivated or what is most important to them?
- What is unique about this situation, what variables are important here and now?
- What are the optimal outcomes in this situation, for these specific players, for our team, for our organization?
- Be clear and direct, with respect. Leadership is build on two-way dialogue and trust. Leaders need to be clear and open to other perspectives – at the same time.
- Know what you think and what is important to you – what are your convictions.
- Ask, listen and acknowledge – provide space and acceptance of other points of view.
- Share the WHY – include context, connection to personal and organizational priorities, and alignment.
- Be a stable and grounded presence in the face of change, stress, or difficult news. People need to feel safe bringing you news, even bad news. Otherwise you will end up in a vacuum with no information and no ability to make a difference. In addition, your team will look to you and mimic how you react to stress and changes. It is important to be genuine but prepared to demonstrate your leadership presence, even in tough times.
Fresh starts are exciting and a little scary. They give us an opportunity to reflect, build on what has worked and try something new.
Posted in building teams, change and transition, communication, Engagement, Leadership, leading authentically, trust
Tagged confidence, culture, feedback, motivation, purpose, stress, transparency, vision
“That’s crazy,” “I could never do it that way,” You’re wrong,” “No, listen to me!”
Are you hearing statements like these at work? When new ideas are introduced are you seeing battle lines drawn? How do you lead for the common good when it seems like your people have completely different goals in mind?
Well, not to ignore how hard it is but the place to start is with dialogue. Which means helping people actually listen to each other, even if they disagree with what the other person is saying. Your goal is to help people move from:
- persuading or telling
- focusing on differences
- talking at each other
All of which lead to frustration, lack of trust and either/or thinking.
And move to:
- talking with each other
- looking at options
That requires finding some sort of common or shared interests as a starting point for dialogue. Instead of focusing on the dangers of the other point of view and highlighting the positive of their own point of view, help people work on specific issues by looking deeper and identifying underlying values, goals, and concerns that both sides share.
We encourage the leaders we work with to ask these two straightforward questions to build trust and identify shared interests.
- What do we all want?
- We do we all fear or want to avoid?
It will take work to keep people from focusing on their initial points of view and look at the bigger picture, but facilitating this conversation will help you and your people find a common good you can all agree on, and that is a great starting point!
Posted in building teams, common good, communication, goals, polarities, trust
Tagged communication, culture, ego, innovation, purpose, transparency, vision
If the people on your team have to ask “Where is the meaning in my work?” something is wrong!
In his book Meaning, Inc. , Gurnek Bains ecourages leaders to bring the organization’s mission and vision to life through meaningful work. Between actual work time and digital connections people spend over half of their waking hours “at work.” Understanding how those work activities are making a contribution to customers (students at Minnesota State), the community or larger society will make work more meaningful.
While each person on your team has their own personal values and beliefs about what is important, there are actions that leaders can take to strengthen meaning at work. Bains identifies the following leadership activities that help create more meaningful work:
- Discussing and supporting personal stretch goals that are related to the vision.
- Focusing on the unique strengths and talents that each person brings to work.
- Documenting, evaluating, providing feedback and highlighting each person’s work and contribution to group efforts.
- Clearly linking individual and team work activities and accomplishments to wider issues.
- Ensuring that short-term goals don’t conflict with the deeper organizational purpose.
- Role modeling stated ideals.
Making sure your people know the difference their work makes in the lives of other people builds meaning. And meaning is powerful.
Posted in common good, communication, Engagement, higher education, Leadership, leading authentically, mission and vision, Motivation
Tagged communication, engagement, higher education, integrity, Leadership, motivation, organizational culture, stakeholders, values, vision
Last week at our New Administrator Orientation program Chancellor Steven Rosenstone shared his passion for why he comes to work each day and clearly articulated why the work we all do is important.
He spoke about the shared common core value that our colleges and universities are focused on: providing an opportunity for all Minnesotans to create a better future for themselves. He reminded us that our work as leaders is crucial to ensuring that our colleges and universities meet that challenge and that is why we do what we do. His passion was evident and it was infectious!
Author James R Lucas in his book, The Passionate Organization: Igniting the Fire of Employee Commitment, suggests that articulating and sharing your organizational vision with passion helps guide and focus the work people do and enhance commitment. This requires a vision that has two key components:
- What is your organization’s purpose – the strategic vision. The what and how of your organization.
- What are your organization’s values – the cultural vision. This is the element that is often missing or not communicated by leaders. It is the why of your organization.
Passion is expressed when you focus on making a difference and clearly articulate how people’s day to day work contributes directly to the shared values of your organization.
Yes, passion does belong at work!
Posted in building teams, communication, Engagement, Leadership, leading authentically, Motivation
Tagged communication, engagement, higher education, Leadership, organizational culture, values, vision
Author Dan Pontefract has released a new book that I found energizing and I encourage you to check it out. In The Purpose Effect (2016) he suggests that leaders can help their people recognize the “sweet spot” where the organizational mission overlaps with their role purpose and their own personal vision. You can read a summary of the book here – getAbstract
The sweet spot is the space where people feel engaged in their work, energized by how they can make a contribution and clearly understand the contributions their organization makes to their stakeholders. As leaders we rarely have the opportunity to be involved in the crafting of the organizational mission and vision but we can connect it to the day to day work being done and the unique aspirations of each person on your team.
Pontefract suggests that leaders focus on understanding and facilitating two-way dialogue in these three areas:
- Individual and personal goals or purpose and how they relate to the day to day work.
- what motivates the people on your team?
- how do they want to develop themselves?
- what most interests them in their job?
- how can you and the organization support their success?
- The organizational purpose, mission and vision.
- what are your organization’s values?
- how does the organization live out it’s purpose?
- what are examples of the organizational purpose?
- Role-based purpose.
- how do individual roles contribute to the success of the organization?
- where do individual roles make a difference to stakeholders?
- how can a leader recognize individual role contributions to the success of the department or organization?
Taking the time to understand each of these three areas is the first step. Then taking the time to consistently help your team members find their own personal sweet spot at work will help you bring your mission and vision to life.
Posted in building teams, communication, Engagement, goals, Leadership, leading authentically, Motivation, organizational culture
Tagged communication, engagement, Leadership, stakeholders, trust, vision
The first notes of the song or the image of a lit fuse (or for the new crowd – the image of Tom Cruise) energizes me and literally compels me to action. My toe starts tapping, my heart beats a little faster and I feel a jolt of energy — and I am not a spy!!! That is the power of a strong mission that engages people.
During October we are going to be blogging about the leadership competency Articulates Vision and Mission. As Mission Impossible has shown us, having an engaging mission will unite people and facilitate working together to accomplish achievements previously believed impossible. In the world of work that requires leaders to understand the organizational mission and vision, to communicate it effectively, to act as role models to demonstrate it, and to seek input from all.
It may not be as glamorous as a TV show or a Hollywood movie but articulating your organization’s mission and vision in an engaging way can be a blockbuster achievement in your career!