Biggest Collaboration Mistakes Leaders Make and Ways to Fix Them | RSA Learning
Posted on December 3rd, 2019
Lions are the natural leaders in their animal kingdom. They are powerful, ferocious, protective, and brave. It’s unusual to discuss lions as collaborators. Yet, lions exhibit collaboration and teamwork for the benefit of the pack. Lions typically live in groups of 10 to 15 called a pride. Lionesses, female lions, do most of the hunting for the pride while the male lion protects and defends the group from predators. As a pride, they navigate the wilds of the kingdom to survive.
The Lion King, a Disney movie, compares good and bad leadership and showcases the impact of collaboration. In the movie, Simba is a new cub born to Mufasa, the king of the lion kingdom and Sarabi, his wife. Simba is being groomed to become the new King.
The movie captures the collapse of the lion kingdom after Scar, a jealous and self-serving lion, kills his brother Mufasa, the wise, benevolent, and proud leader of the Pride and their home, the Pridelands. Scar is jealous that Simba, Mufasa’s cub, is being groomed to take over as king. After Mufasa’s death, Scar made Simba believe he was responsible for his father’s death. Simba runs away to live a life where he’s not responsible for others.
Once Scar has taken over leading the pride, his focus is on serving his interests in the short term, overhunting their homelands, creating a dark, deserted, and barren Pridelands. He ignored feedback and excluded members of the pride from decision making about their well
being. Scar struck secret deals with the hyenas, the evil group living in the nearby elephant graveyard creating conflict.
Thankfully, a chance meeting between Simba and his childhood friend, Nala, wakes up the leader in Simba. Simba and Nala collaborate with Simba’s friends, Timon and Pumbaa, to overtake Scar and successfully regain the Pridelands. The story features the impact of collaboration, ownership, and love in defeating Scar, a weak and abusive leader who led through fear, lies, and self-interest. Unfortunately, these same Scar behaviors can occur in the workplace, creating a toxic culture when:
• people are excluded,
• their voices aren’t heard
• there is no tolerance for difference
• leaders serve their own interests and
• leaders aren’t trusted.
How can a leader foster collaboration and capture the collective experience of the group to achieve innovative ideas and solutions?
Leaders who are committed to collaboration build an inclusive culture where members are welcomed and are comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas. These leaders are dedicated to the team or group and can put others’ needs ahead of their own. They establish trust with others and are role models for character, connection, competence, courage, and consistent performance. If the team or group doesn’t trust the leader, collaboration suffers. Leader behavior matters and sets the stage for positive collaboration.
Have you evaluated your trust metric? How willing are people to follow your lead? Some examples: Do you do what you say you are going to do, do the right thing when others aren’t, actively invest in people and value them as a person, have the courage to make difficult decisions, and perform quality and consistent work? Ensure you are delivering on the 5 C’s to set a strong foundation and practice active, advanced listening to comprehend the true meaning behind the words. Active listening is essential to build an inclusive culture.
Consider trying these activities to improve your active listening skills:
• Listen to a conversation without saying anything. Follow the words, nonverbal gestures, and values shared between those in the conversation. What is different in your comprehension when you weren’t preparing to respond?
• Self-reflect and seek feedback after a challenging conversation. Immediately afterward, write down the primary message you heard. What did another person hear? Do they match? Frequently, you can miss significant points in a conversation when it doesn’t agree with your opinion.
Collaborative leaders also navigate common derailers to group performance, including:
• resolving conflict
• balancing time and quality outputs
• processing the emotions of others brought on by change
• addressing individual team member performance or behavior
• having the courage to make challenging decisions when needed.
Navigating common derailers takes confidence, courage, and commitment. You must be able to use your voice productively to keep the group on track.
Consider trying these activities to build your confidence using your voice when the risk is low:
• Make it a goal to share your opinion in different group meetings. Anticipate common discussion points in meetings, gather your thoughts, and write them down so you are more confident in your delivery.
• Address a situation you are experiencing with a coworker with whom you have a good relationship. Can you share feedback and the impact on their actions on performance? How did you do? What might you do differently?
A commitment to collaboration and team performance will yield stronger results than the individual contributions of many. Effective collaboration takes time and focused practice from leaders. Experience is a worthy teacher in addition to seeking advice from others, gathering feedback, self-reflection, and pre-planning for collaboration and projects. Your measuring stick for collaboration is progress, not perfection. Don’t be too hard on yourself as you learn and apply these skills.
Ask yourself these questions:
• Did I do my best today to welcome and include others to a group?
• How well did I listen, gather, and include diverse opinions from the group in our work?
• Have I effectively addressed conflict or performance issues impacting the group?
Action and Reflection
Commit time this week to:
• Seek input and opinions from at least three members of a group about a work topic. What did you learn? How can you apply this information?
• Shadow a leader or project leader whose skills you admire in group discussion. Ask them questions about how they prepare and observe the tools and tactics they use to guide discussions. Can you add these to your toolkit?
Empathy in Action – Why it’s Needed in Leadership | RSA Learning
Posted on October 31st, 2019
Have you ever slowed down enough to truly observe people and their interactions with others? If you haven’t, you might miss the nuances of many people who are accomplished at demonstrating empathy. Dictionary.com defines empathy as …” identifying with and experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of another.” For those who demonstrate empathy, they transition from “I” focused needs and seek to understand the other person’s perspective.
Teresa Wiseman, a nursing scholar, has identified four elements of empathy:
• to be able to see the world as others see it
• to be nonjudgmental
• to understand another’s feelings
• communicate the understanding of that person’s feelings.
Empathy can be confused with sympathy. Empathy is an understanding of the feelings of others, while sympathy is a show of care or concern for others during stressful times. Empathy means that you have taken the time to recognize people, their challenges, and want to understand their perspective without adding your opinion to the conversation. Empathy is about the other person.
Recently, I sat back and observed people on a 4-hour flight from Columbus to Las Vegas and recognized empathy in action in everyday routines.
Flyer #1 – A businessman helped a few people struggling to get their bags in the overhead storage compartments. He didn’t watch others struggle. Instead, he offered a hand. Do you?
Flyer #2 – On Southwest flights, there is no assigned seating, passengers covet front row, aisle, and window seats. Two of the last passengers to board the airplane were an elderly couple, and the husband had obvious medical issues. There was one front row middle seat available for him, but the only other seat available for the wife was at the rear of the plane. Flyer #2 offered her second-row aisle seat to the wife so the couple could be near each other while she moved to the far back of the plane in a middle seat. She wasn’t caught up in her own needs and recognized that there were others with a greater need and gave of herself for their benefit. Do you?
Flyer #3 patiently listened and discussed Ohio State football with an elderly gentleman sitting across the aisle from him. At a time when most want quiet on airplanes, flyer #3 took the time to engage the older man and continue the conversation because the elderly gentleman wanted to talk. He could have stopped the conversation but recognized that the gentleman appreciated the connection. Do you engage others when they have a need?
Why did these “flyers” give of themselves on this day? These people honor and value people and willingly viewed the situations from others’ perspectives and needs. They belong to a group of people I call helpers, high empathy people. Helpers natural tendency is to reach out to others and put others’ needs ahead of their own. These people create a better world for others. Unfortunately, they are also usually humble, so they don’t advertise their good deeds.
Why is empathy important for leaders?
Empathy helps leaders combat VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity present in today’s workplaces. VUCA stresses employees. Leaders must understand the needs, concerns, and perspectives of their team as the team tackles tough challenges. Employees are more likely to follow your lead if they feel heard, valued and appreciated. Empathy matters.
Soft skills such as communication, building relationships, and empathy are frequently ranked among the top skill gaps in leaders today. The pressures of work and outcomes have shifted many leaders to form transactional relationships with employees. Transactional leadership is focused on things, processes, and outcomes ahead of the needs of employees.
Empathy can be learned, but it takes practice to develop stronger skills. Start with everyday interactions with people like those described on the recent airline flight. Hone your skills and extend sincere empathy to create stronger connections at work. It is also helpful to watch for empathy behaviors in others at work. What would you see? Do you acknowledge and value those people who make the workplace better for everyone?
Ask yourself these questions:
• Did I do my best today to show empathy?
• Did I have an opportunity to show empathy at work and not recognize it until later?
• Did I make a difference for at least one person today?
Action and Reflection:
Commit time this week to:
• Silently observe other’s empathy behaviors. What did you see?
• Acknowledge people who are the helpers that create a more empathetic workplace for others.
• Practice using empathy at least once each day.
At the end of the week, how do you feel? Most researchers have noted that when you give more of yourself, you feel better, improve your outlook, and search for new ways to give more of yourself. Giving is powerful and becomes part of your brand. Ask yourself, “Am I a helper?” If not, what can you do to change it?
Day to Day Leadership – Ideas to Jump Start Learning | RSA Learning
Posted on October 16th, 2019
How is what you already know limiting your leadership potential? | RSA Learning
Posted on October 3rd, 2019
George Siemens states, “The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.” The ability to learn and adapt to new environments; in other words, agility, is more important than what we currently know and believe. In today’s workplace, given the rate of change and uncertainty, learning agility is a key skill that leaders must possess.
Expertise accumulates as we develop in our careers. This expertise is necessary for peak job performance. However, this expertise can narrow our perspectives and weaken our ability to respond and learn in changing environments. Given the rate of change in our workplaces, it is more important to be able to learn new concepts and skills than remain comfortable in what we already know.
When you think of the word beach, I don’t know about you, but I see sand, waves, and people walking barefoot on the beach.
Have you ever been to Cobblestone Beach at Acadia National Park in Maine?
Now that you have seen Cobblestone Beach, have you changed your impression?
Too frequently, we know what we know, don’t dig deeper to learn new perspectives, or challenge ourselves to think differently.
How is Cobblestone Beach like what we already know? There are cresting waves, vibrating surf, and sunny, blue skies. We package this information quickly since it is already in our unconscious brain—it’s what we know. There’s no need to dig deeper.
But how is Cobblestone Beach different? Shoes would be a good option to navigate the rolling rocks, the sound of the surf is stronger, and the temperature is cooler.
Which impression is right? Neither — Cobblestone Beach is just different. Too often in learning, we seek right or wrong answers when the essential requirement is creating new meaning which integrates experience and learning taking pieces of both impressions.
Learning agility is about being curious, challenging our current knowledge, and making connections between random pieces of information.
The basis of learning agility is a growth mindset – one in which you view yourself as a work in progress and approach learning as a critical need in your ongoing leadership career growth. New college graduates can fall into the trap of wanting to step away from learning since they can be burned out from the cycle of learning and testing. However, the need to learn is equally strong for both new and seasoned leaders to continue to grow and adapt.
Ask yourself these questions –
• What was your last “aha” moment with learning, and why was it important to you?
• How do you learn best –by reading, doing, or watching others?
• Are you brave enough to share a different opinion based on your unique perspective?
• When was the last time you learned something new outside your usual responsibility?
The answers to these questions can help you define your learning style and capacity –both important tools for staying relevant and able to adapt to the changing beach coastline or your work environment. Your current knowledge has a finite useful life unless you challenge your understanding. Your future success as a leader will be based on how well you learn and adapt rather than what you already know. Think about it – Is what you already know limiting your leadership potential?
What can you do this week to create new meaning?
Action and Reflection:
Commit 30 minutes this week to learning from another perspective. Some ideas:
Shadow someone in a similar role.
What are the similarities and differences in the approach? Do you achieve different outcomes? What can you apply?
Google search – a learner’s companion—find three brief articles on the same content area.
Read and review them. What are the similarities and differences? Can you combine any ideas into something you can use and apply?
Visit the library and head to the new release section. What are the current hot topics and trends you see?
Take one home – print, digital, or audiobook. Why did you choose this book? What insights to you hope to gain? Reading for enjoyment is acceptable!
Libraries are an excellent source of inspiration and can jumpstart learning for those who haven’t avidly practiced learning in a while.
Podcasts or TEDx video — Find two or three that interest you. What are the current hot topics and trends you see?
Discover an aha moment on one of the podcasts or videos. How can you apply it? Share the information you learned with someone else.
Each of us owns our learning and development. Push yourself to ask better questions, see things from different perspectives, and seek out new experiences and meanings to broaden your knowledge and relevance to advance your leadership potential.
Day to Day Leadership Ethical Choices Discussion Tool | RSA Learning
Posted on September 23rd, 2019
Ethics is about choices. Use these scenarios to generate discussion about decision making and expectations. Consider your organization’s values, code of conduct and ethics policies. Openly discuss these situations and determine considerations for your team when facing similar situations.
5 common reasons leaders breach ethics and codes of conduct | RSA Learning
Posted on September 11th, 2019
What happened to Enron, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen to name a few? These companies have become the poster companies for extreme failures in business ethics when they chose to alter accounting for positive gain, falsify company records, and conceal their actions. While their actions were egregious, each week the news continues to include new lists of companies and individuals who have committed serious ethics violations. It is a growing problem.
Common ethics violations include theft, fraud, conflict of interest, and/or actions meant to provide someone unfair advantage or gain over others. The definition of ethics by Google is “moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or conducting of an activity.” Many companies create their own codes of conduct or ethics policies to ensure that leaders and other employees hold themselves to a specific set of standards and behaviors. Ethics is grounded in morality which Google defines as the “distinction between right/wrong or good/bad behavior.” Ethics and codes of conduct are about choice and decision making and the scale is right/wrong or good/bad. Ethical choices are not evaluated on a continuum where the choice is mostly right or only a little bad.
As a leader, you are faced with many decisions throughout the course of the day. It’s easy to go on auto-pilot and stop engaging your thinking brain for these choices. Instead, you may rationalize your choices based on the circumstances at hand creating your own set of rules and evaluation standards ignoring the absolutes of right/wrong and good/bad behavior. This situational morality frequently conflicts with ethical behavior.
Road construction provides good examples of drivers defining their own situational morality to justify the choices they make in frustrating circumstances. These reasons are the very same reasons leaders and others use to justify their choices in difficult situations. Have you used these reasons or seen others apply them as situational morality?
1. If this wasn’t happening, I’d do the right thing.
You are driving down the road on a bright summer day when you see the dreaded road construction signs. Immediately, your body responds with a groan and pre-emptive frustration. And when the words traffic delays expected are added, you are calculating the impact on you, today. You are strategizing how to get through the delay the fastest, and potentially, at the expense of other drivers. Your needs are more important at the moment. Are you the person who passes the other cars and cuts in front of them jumping the line when the road narrows a lane? You tell yourself, I’m usually a considerate driver but because of the road construction today, I need to jump ahead so I won’t be late.
For operations leaders, days are filled with situational adjustments. Things don’t go as planned, employees call in sick, equipment breaks, computer systems fail forcing leaders to make choices. If your focus is only on the immediate needs of today, you will lose sight of the impacts of your actions over time. Unfortunately, once you start blurring the lines of ethical choices, it becomes easier to continue the pattern and rationalize your choice based on the situation.
2. Other people are doing it.
Imagine the lane closure sign ½ mile ahead. You and other drivers are maneuvering positions – some waiting their turn and others jockeying to find a faster path. The faster path may mean speeding past others in the lane that will close and forcing others to let them merge back in. Once one person jumps the line, others will soon follow. Malcolm Gladwell describes this as the tipping point – where behaviors both good and bad can spread like viruses. For some reason, people feel safe if “others” are doing it and use this as an excuse to follow the others.
Think about some conversations you have had with employees. It might sound something like— “Why did you go on break 15 minutes early? To which the employee responds, “Sarah does it every day and no one says anything to her.” Accountability is a personal choice not tied to other’s actions. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right.
3. No one will recognize me.
When you are stuck in traffic, it can be hard to recognize the driver through the glazed windows. This shield makes it easier for people to believe that no one will know, or no one will recognize them at the moment. Certainly, this anonymity makes it easier for people to jump the line, drive erratically, or use hand signals to communicate with other drivers. You tell yourself no one will know so I’m safe making these choices.
In fact, many ethics violations start when people believe they can conceal their actions – no one will know. The information frequently reaches the light of day from unknown sources and spreads quickly. As leaders, others model your behavior and they frequently see things you don’t think they do! Is your behavior role model ready? Are you prepared to have your actions broadcast for others to see?
4. I have a pressing problem and need to make a decision now.
You are speeding down the road late for an event when you encounter a road construction sign. You have an emotional reaction – perhaps it’s words, slamming your steering wheel, or yelling at someone in the car. Your thinking/rational brain has been left behind and fails to see the impact of your actions on others. You tell yourself that the need to resolve the situation quickly is the most important thing right now.
For leaders, every day has a pressing problem requiring your attention. Sometimes, the pressing issue can also be a personal need. In these cases, you react and these emotions, left unchecked, can lead to poor decision making and behavior choices. You lose sight of ethics and morality when driven by a gut reaction. Leaders must engage their thinking brain especially when stress, time pressures, and pressing needs threaten their ability to make an intentional, more thoughtful response that aligns with ethical choices.
5. I’ve waited long enough, you owe me.
Road construction can last a long time. Initially, you and other drivers follow the rules but, over time, become frustrated with the ongoing delays and find shortcuts around and through the construction zone. You can ignore posted safety warnings and speed limits thinking that you have invested enough of your time. You reason that others owe you for your commitment and, therefore, your workarounds are acceptable. Unfortunately, road construction isn’t played on a playing field and drivers will always lose in the short term (today) with the intent to gain in the long term.
Think about the ways, this reason is applied – I finished the project ahead of others, I skipped my lunch break each day this week, or I covered for another employee on leave. These are the words you use to justify the choices you make. Ethical choices are good/bad or right/wrong and don’t include a scorecard where you independently decide to “exchange” this for that.
Leaders run into challenges when they create their own situational morality when their own immediate needs become the driving force for decisions. Ethical conduct is a long-term commitment. Leaders must model the behaviors expected of others. When you find yourself justifying your behaviors using these reasons, use caution – you could be facing impending ethics dangers.
Leaders who successfully navigate ethics challenges employ a few strategies to bolster their integrity – “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” (Google)
Know and apply your organization’s values, code of conduct and ethics policies
Familiarize yourself so you can understand direction and guidelines for your choices and behaviors
Engage your thinking brain to override your gut reaction
Taking time and space necessary to think about the ethical impacts of your actions before making the choice/decision
Don’t isolate yourself and make ethical decisions independently
Being transparent with others about your choices provides a guardrail to help you stay in ethical boundaries
Phone a friend – seek advice, feedback and view things from others’ perspectives
Talking things through with others can point out flaws in your thinking if you are open and receptive to others’ opinions and feedback
Ask yourself these questions when faced with a challenging dilemma:
• If I viewed my actions from another person’s perspective, what would others’ say?
• Would I be comfortable if my actions were published on the front page of the local newspaper or shared publicly on social media?
Action and Reflection:
Commit time this week to:
• Reflect on your behaviors. Did you do your best each day to foster positive leader behaviors?
• Complete a Google search to identify the most common workplace ethics violations. What did you learn and how could you apply it to your role? You might be surprised to learn most aren’t massive ethics breaches you read about it in the news.
Day to Day Leadership – Relationship Building Action Ideas for Leaders | RSA Learning
Posted on August 18th, 2019
Do Leaders Get a Day Off? | RSA Learning
Posted on August 1st, 2019
Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach, a hike in the mountains, or traveling to a new city? So how do leaders build up their benefit time to plan for their time off? Seems simple, doesn’t it. Most companies offer vacation benefits, but I’m referring to leadership benefit time – that granted by employees to you, the leader, for your use. Leadership benefit time is virtual currency—reflecting your commitment to people, the team, and the organization.
When you have a positive leadership benefit time balance, employees:
• give you the benefit of the doubt when your actions would normally cause a withdrawal from your account
• recognize and reward your efforts by handling a sticky issue on their own
• be willing to hear you out on a controversial topic
• lastly, the freedom to take real vacation days because they sense your confidence in them.
They know you trust your team, their skills, abilities, and decisions.
A leader casts a shadow at all times—your behaviors and actions define you. What does your shadow say about you? Does your shadow form when light is shined on people creating a warm shadow or do you block light from reaching people and create a dark side shadow that is cold? Trust is the difference in a warm versus a cold shadow.
Trust is a foundational skill for leaders – employees trust that you have their best interest in mind, they trust that you are making the right decisions, they trust that you will handle them with care and concern, they trust that you are fair and inclusive and the list could go on. When trust exists, they support you as the leader and make deposits in your account.
Building trust using the 5 C’s –character, competence, courage, consistency, and connection is key. Each day people evaluate your leadership performance, rate your commitment, and make funding decisions. Withdrawals for poor leadership behaviors frequently have penalties attached — some actions carry a heftier price tag for recovery.
Review the deposit and withdrawal ledger to check your recent leadership credits and debits to your account.
Leadership benefit time is your day off – creating an easier path for you as a leader to achieve outcomes. But it does require paying close attention to your balance. You can increase your balance by actively taking steps each day to build better relationships, take ownership of your behaviors, and find ways to give back to those you serve.
Ask yourself these questions:
• Did I do my best today to make deposits in my leadership benefit time account?
• What did I do well?
• Why were withdrawals taken? What do I need to do differently?
Action and Reflection:
Commit time this week to:
• publicly acknowledge someone’s efforts and the difference it made
• *visit an employee or work area this week to touch base
• resolve an employee issue that needs your support
*Note the word visit which means to “go and see someone to spend time with.” Unfortunately, in today’s busy workplaces, this doesn’t happen often enough.
Welcome To The Ruck-Shockey Learning Blog!
Posted on June 5th, 2019
Delivering learning and talent development that is cost effective, easy to access and relevant in today’s workplace.