HERO MODE!

Let me introduce a concept i am using for a while now: the hero mode. It is very similiar to the Responsibility Process and the Karpman drama triangle. But it is a bit simpler and more visualised approach. You always tell yourself a story. About the past, about now and maybe also about the future. Instead of being a victim, you guessed it, you decide to be the hero! Only YOU! It is your responsibility to tell the right story at the right time. If you go for victim, you will be or become the victim. If you go for observer, you will be or become the observer. If you go for outsider, you will be or become the outsider.

What attibutes has a hero? A hero…

  • …has goals (kill a dragon, get the promotion, marry mary,…).
  • …has big goals (free a kingdom, built a great carreer, have a great family,…).
  • …knows self-efficacy.
  • …knows how to reach the goals (if not now, start to look for possible ways).
  • …starts doing.
  • …is hopefully an agile hero and adapts (if the things don’t work out well ;))!

Watch out what stories you tell yourself. Watch out what stories others told you and which you absorbed and now tell yourself over and over. Go and pull yourself out of the swamp by your own hair like the real Baron Münchhausen.

How do you hold yourself clean of bad thoughts about the situation or yourself? Let the world know by a small comment!

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Open the stage for feedback

Knowing the following is absolutely nothing new (see at least one source i found), i feel the urge to remind me, myself and everone else about this small question before giving feedback/:

Are you open for feedback/my observations/my two cents/…?

Why do i remind us all? Its simple: it stops you from doing a belly flop and lets you do a nice plunge into the topic! And you show respect to your counterpart. By giving the chance to dismiss the feedback, you show, that you care about the feelings and energy levels of them. A great side effect is, that if someone is in neutral mood before, she will open up to your feedback, because of getting curious and having the chance to influence the situation. side effect: most people will say “yes”, cause they really become curious.

How do you start your feedback? What motivated you when getting feedback? Leave a comment and let the world know!

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Differences between managing and leading

Frequently the two words managing and leading are mixed up. While it is true, they describe very similar and related things, they differ by the underlying principles.

Managing is the administration of an organisation. So it is part of the outer form. It is a piece of the basic design of an organisation. In the most cases managing needs a formal authorisation and is assigned to different layers of a hierarchy.

Leadership and leading is more general. You don’t need the authorisation of your organisation to lead. You don’t need the hierarchy layer and your position in there to lead. You need the trust of the people you want to lead. You need them to want you to lead. And there can be different leaders for the same group of people to lead. One nice example for such a structure is the Scrum Framework. You got the Product Owner, leading the Team in the “What” and the Scrum Master leading the Team in the “How”. But what you really need for good leadership is the right culture. There must be respect and security for all, the leading ones and the guided ones.

What are your experiences with leading and managing? What is/was more fun? Where came your problems from? Let the world know by a comment!

As always thanks for reading and sharing, i hope you loved it! If not, please give me a hint how to improve!

About pushing donkeys and the magically pulling ones (McGregor X and Y)

Have you ever been in a (work) situation and asked yourself how it comes, that everything feels a bit odd? It is weird, you can’t put your finger on it, its everywhere and nobody seems to do anything on their own. You have to tell everybody what to do, how to do it and especially when. You hear phrases like “THAT was not described” or “that is not my task/my job”. One possible explanation is the following: the world is directly bound to what you and your surrounding thinks what life is. Let us have a closer look on the deepest believes. Here especially the theory of X and Y by McGregor.

X – what is it?

First comes the odd example we started the post with: the Theory X. In this mindset the believe, that the average worker has no fun at work at all, is very strong. If even possible, the motivation has to be extrinsic. Either treats, like money, or threat will do this job. You have to push everyone like a stubborn donkey to do anything. Deeply underlying in this world is the thesis “everybody hates work”. Interesting part is, that after a while in such a surrounding many guys will really hate their work. And they will need to be pushed, because nothing really matters for them.

Y – why is it?

On the other side of the scale there is a viewpoint where everybody is intrinsic motivated. The typical guy loves to work and enjoys the fruits of it. She needs goals bigger than herself. Work is seen as a part of life! With this insights the intrinsic motivation is born and cultivated in everybody.

Z – what comes next?

Not invented or thought by McGregor, but remarkable is Theory Z. Here the leader or manager sees even further and creates the culture very aware into the direction of meaning and moral. On this path failure is seen as natural, a way to learn and improve things and people. The creativity is fostered in every possible way. Everything tends to push not only the team or organisation forwards, but the whole environment forward. This deeper meaning lasts much longer and unleashes more energy than just letting people doing as they think it is best.

Conclusion

There is no completely X or Y or Z environment. As always, if there are individuals, everyone has her own state of mind, her own level of evolution and her own beliefs. This concept of diversity can be found also in books about Spiral Dynamics, Tribes and Tribal Leadership. The most common states can be assumed as the state of the whole system. Also the widespreaded culture in the leadership tells you the main stream.

To identify your peers, carefully look for things in the outer world, like checklists with a signing policy (don’t get me wrong, there are critical environments in which those are necessary – but if they are massive used for really small things, it can be a good pointer). Also develop a sense for phrases people/managers/leaders use. A common example is “you can’t rely on anybody”, “if you want it done well, just do it yourself” or “they are doing what they want”. This shows deeply, the missing trust for intrinsic motivation of others. Find out your personal type. Or at least try it! Ask your peers, what they think, if you don’t have a specific feeling. Be proud of whatever comes out – it is ok to be X, Y or Z. It only is another tool! Don’t blame anybody else for their nature. If you are a good leader, you will learn how to lift people to the next level. If you aren’t able already now!

What are your experiences with cultures and such categorizations? Do you know your characteristic? Let the world know and leave a comment!

Thanks for reading and sharing if you liked it!

Work – you get what you throw in!

You always stumble upon the same problems whereever you work? It doesn’t matter if we are talking about new work or the good old way of working: everything starts with your thoughts, habits, feelings and beliefs. Your inner landscape mirrors in your (micro) reactions. Others can sense these signals and react immediately. The greatest example for this in my life was while hiking with my lovely girl friend in southern France: out of nowhere came a young boy, way behind his parents, who unasked just gave me a high five. We both had a huge smile and felt great. That was a positive example. If you radiate peace, you will probably get more peace. If you believe, that everybody wants to attack you, you will offend your peers unaware. They mostly will not be able to put their finger on it, but they will feel fear and defend theirselves. If you believe, that everybody is able to develop into something even better (have we talked about seeing the best in your peers already? A good upcoming post idea!), they will feel an open culture. The spirit of engagement can swap around and push everybody to try harder.

So whatever is inside of you, be brave, take a sharp look on it and try to see it as it is. Don’t be ashamed of unperfect things, accept them and decide to become a better version of yourself, maybe even the best version possible!

As always thanks for reading and sharing!

The power of silence

In this post i am going to focus on a topic which is hard to maintain and helps me often in different situations: silence. I see you asking “How is silence helping you? It’s often awkward and not helping to get into action! Why should we sit around without coming up with a plan?” Be assured, we will cover those feelings too :)! I read about the gap in the conversations often. Lately in the Coaching Habit. Lets dive in and see what can be found in the big  black nothing!

Silence for yourself

Let’s take at first a look where every good leadership starts: you. Whenever you let a gap in the words spoken, you can be shure that you got the chance to think about new ideas on a topic. Often the first ideas are good. Second and third ideas sometimes are amazing. So leave the chance of a chance for great ideas! On the other hand you get the opportunity to think about how to involve the others better. How can i help them better? How can i get them better into seeing my point of view? How can i get them to see the whole picture? How can i see their stance more clear?

Next great thing of a small piece of no words is the chance to get over a bad feeling. Whenever you have a feeling, be assured, that someone will see it or feel it too. Ok, most guys tend to push this touchy-feely thing away as fast as a ray of light. But: having a feeling and getting over it, before exploding, helps you to be fair and calm. That’s were we find another small gem: the time to reflect. Whenever you have time to reflect, you can get into a better understanding of the situation, your counterparts and yourself.

The last soft topic on your side is the feelings in you and the room. Sometimes there is a little part not fitting. There is a small thing which creates an odd perception in you. You see the things and a small voice in the background tells you “hey, this isn’t fitting overall”. Take the time to find out what it is. Hold the feeling in the room. Try not to get fast over it. Hold it in your body and find out where it sits, what it is about and what it is telling you! And with this last note on you, we can step over to the next part: the others!

Silence for the others

We’ve seen how challenging it can be to be silent for yourself. Let’s have a wider look at something crucial in leadership: the others. Whenever you let others the time to think or feel what is going on, you open the possibility of further development. You let them find out what the challenge is all about. You give them the chance to figure out things, to come up with own thoughts and solve the  problem(s) on their own. This little gem is making a crucial difference in leading and in relationships.

Even if it is hard to remain silent, you’re maybe used to always find a good or great solution fast, it is worth on multiple layers. If you just take over control, you give the others the signal to lean back and see with what solution you will come up. Sometimes this is becoming a real vicious circle: nobody is used to think in solutions, cause you will step in and “rescue” everybody. For the lazy ones this is a good feeling, for the eager ones this is a bad feeling. Imagine you want to learn and get further in your carreer. Than there is a boss or leader always making every decision and coming up with solutions, even before the question was ended or talked out loud. The habit of this guy will take your chance away to come up with your own ideas and to make them better over time. You feel not trusted and will be frustrated. I know, this is one of the more negative possible situations. But it’s totally worth thinking about, because every frustrated great guy will sooner or later move on to the next challenges. And the chance to loose a colleague because you couldn’t let space for her development is worth to think about your habits!

Conclusion

My advice for you: play around with the mighty tool of silence. Get out of your habit to jump in and let your advice monster (thanks to Bungay Stanier Michael for this great image) take over the situation! Learn to hold the tension of waiting for the ideas of your colleagues! It’s absolutely worth: it opens space for further and faster development and enriches the possible solutions you have in the most situations.

Book review: The Five Dysfuntions of a Team

Have you ever worked in a team? Was it always easy and trouble-free? I hope not, because without some little conflicts something is really wrong! At least it feels not really vivid and not really human. The point is to handle this situations well. One approach to tackle the most problems is the one of Patrick M. Lencioni to watch out for the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lets first list them and then discuss a bit further what they meen:

  1. Absence of trust
  2. Fear of conflict
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Avoidance of accountability
  5. Inattention to results

They are build like a pyramid: the ground and base for everything is the trust. Without trust in the team, you don’t need to think about conflict or results. If the team members don’t trust each other, it is hard to go in good conflict, the healthy conflicts. They are necessary to feel committed to the common goals. Without this the team members see no reason to hold each other accountable. And if nobody is having a look at the others, there is no attention into the results. That’s it. As easy as this all problems are in a simple line of causes.

How to get to attention to results

Whenever you see a dysfunction described in one of the five pyramid layers, start fixing this exact layer. If it is not directly one of those five, try to find out in which layer it starts. Sometimes the teams are not showing distrust openly. You find one member is asking everybody else, but not her team for a thing. Or you feel a slight thing around the results, like everybody is doing stuff, but there are constant hard discussions about the direction. Whatever you feel the actual layer with a not perfect running team is-start there! Find out in private talks to each of them if it is really the right layer. Look into the book, find a good excercise and go through it with your team. Tell them, that you will have an eye on the thing and want them to look for it too. Tell them repeatedly, what their goal is. For example “you are a team, our goal is, that you’re working effective and efficient together”. If the layer of dysfunction is fixed go to the next higher one and fix this one. Always be on only one layer at a time. Stay there, till it is fixed! Reflect with the team, if the layer is fixed before going up.

My experiences

The most astonishing thing for me was to realize how many things can break a teams attention to results. It can come from so many directions: from above, from the side and from below. If the boss is not respectful, nobody stays respectful for a longer time. It needs so much discipline to maintain respect in such a situation. If you are not allowed to keep your team members accountable, it will end up not well, if nobody interrupts the vicious circle. And it is a real vicious circle: if one thing is broken and not fixed, the layers below will break soon! Why should you hold someone accountable, if nobody cares for the results? Why should anybody commit to something, if there are no consequences?

The awesome part about this book is: it really works! There is a magic behind it, which makes it easy to approach any overwhelming seeming problem. And after some attempts your team is getting better. Already the sign that you care helps the team to feel better. In most cases they want to understand and help fixing the problem. If you keep repeating that the problem will be solved, it helps fixing it. The greatest feeling is, when your team members come up with ideas how to solve the problem and make the team work even better. You only have to start and stick in some situations.

Sometimes it is not the best idea to tell the guys what you are going to do with them. Some don’t want to have the touchy-feely things at work and in their live. For these situations i don’t have something what works really good. Only to not tell front up next time, to not disturb the walk through.

What experience do you have with team building? Did you read other great books on the topic? What problems did you had in your teams? How did you solved them? I would be happy if you would leave a comment!

Thanks for reading and have always great ideas for fixing your team problems!

Great leadership

At this point of time i feel that its a good moment to fixate my learnings about leadership. The ones i felt how i would like to go, the ones i learnt by horrible mistakes or blind spots and the ones i read about. Why do i want to write about them? Just to reflect my situation and where i am now and what i want to reach. Some things i already live quite well, some things i want to achieve. Lets dive in directly with the first and biggest learning: leading starts with yourself!

Lead yourself first

This is the way most important thing about leadership i see: when you’re not able to lead yourself, you can’t lead others. Well you can, but you will not be as effective and successful as you could be. So the journey to become a great leader, starts with your first step to reflect yourself regularly. It is very helpful to be aware about the situation in yourself and in the others around you. This gives you the possibility to see the chances you and others have in this exact moment. And seeing more options opens a whole new universe of possible solutions.

Be respectful with yourself. This one starts with the thoughts you have and goes over the actions you take. If someone around you is consequently and constantly disrespecting you or your role, than first of all talk to them, if this doesn’t help to their boss and if it still doesn’t change, do yourself a favor and move on to the next position. Easy as this: you always have the option to accept it, change it or leave.

Win the inner game: don’t let the lazy dog do his “laying in the sun” game. Go progressive against procrastination! Don’t shout out every angry comment you have in your mind. Often its not making the situation going anywhere good. Don’t rant around about everything and everyone. Sometimes its good to show the energy of anger, but you should spare it for the points when the time is ripe and your peers are open for the extra energy shot. Exploding daily makes it common and nobody will listen to you any longer. So in a nutshell: you are the boss of the feelings you have and show. Win the fights with yourself, to win the ones outside.

The next point of leadership is focusing. I know a lot of guys with great ideas. They have plenty of them and are keen about all of them. They start to build a thing and a week later they tend to the next one and leave the first one aside unfinished. By this habit they leave a trail of started projects and none of them works. Sometimes its the point, that they tend not to get over the dip in a new area and sometimes they just leave it die because there is a newer, more sexy thing around. With focus on only a small set of goals or projects you will always reach better results. If you only have a little set of objectives, it will be easier to stay on track and reach them. When you finish one, you can and should put a new one on your list. My maximum which worked out very well was three goals at a time. More goals and i tended to not make the goals big enough. Less worked well, but if there is a external blocker in one thing, which you only can influence and not shape directly, its getting a bit unfocused again. You have no goal number two and don’t want to open a new one without finishing the old one. A small dilemma, but it’s ok. So three objectives is my favorite. By prioritizing them in the Eisenhower matrix you can assure to not work on things which are not important and urgent. More great hints on how to get the right things done are in the book Eat That Frog!.

In my eyes having a vision is another key to lead yourself to something great. Sure, often in life there is no easy planning for how to go step by step to where you want to end up in your carreer. You meet the most important people in your life sometimes on purpose and sometimes just by accident. But forming a clear vision helps seeing when the right ones stand in your door. You get the chance to feel that there is someone who can give you something, if you have your why as concise as possible in your mind. With the why often a what and a how comes for free. Find the leaders worthy to follow. And search for them! Look for great visions and the ability to inspire others with the ideas and the questions!

The last two things you can do are being proud and keeping your ego in its healthy boundaries. As often in life it is important to have a good balance. Here this means to have a standing, an opinion and to not stand still on this opinion. If there is a better way to see things, switch to it. If the new way doesn’t work out well after a time: go back! Be agile and flexible in your mind. Nothing is worth leadership than staying stubborn on your old point and expecting better results than you already got. Some things should form your core values. You should not touch these values. For example one of my core values is respect. Sure, its sometimes hard to maintain, if somebody is disrespectful over and over again on purpose, but its worth to have such a value and i won’t skip it for little things.

Lead others to grow leaders too

As we’ve talked about things which touch only you, lets see how to handle the easier part: the others 🙂

One thing i would like to point out first is this: don’t talk patronizingly to others. This gives them a feeling of not being worthy and takes away motivation. Even more you should not think about others in such a way. It already forms your actions and your mindset in a way where your opposite feels whatever they say, you are or feel to be the better one. Which is not only a strange feeling, but also a demotivating factor. The opposite of thinking like this is to ask for their ideas and try to get them involved by heart. This is done by letting them create the things they invented. They proposed a good product feature? Let the ones who had the idea build it! They came up with a better process? Let them improve the status quo with the help of you! They will feel included, valued and worthy. They are in it with their full hearts!

To have your team and coworkers on your side, you need to be crystal clear in where to go, how and why. That’s a key to have the ones which care, on your side (the other ones you will never get, they are already gone in their mind). You need to come up with a vision and communicate it. When you’ve clearified what the goal is, you can always set borders around it and communicate respectful feedback. This is needed to not get lost in anarchy and stay on track. Like parents you need to say “no” to things which get the organization and the team away from its goals. Its your responsibility as the leader to watch out where the team is going. And this borders, rules and visions have to be repeated over and over again! The repitition has to be done until things are improved and everyone understands the why behind the what.

Lets talk about one not so nice part of leading: the complains. Whatever you do, decide or tell, there could be someone complaining or even hating it. I am not sure, if it is a limiting belief, but you can’t be with every decision on the “love it” side for everybody everytime. So expect to make hard decisions and get harsh feedback from above, your side and the ones you lead. A big help for me always is to separate what is against me and what against my role. Try to find out where the complains come from. Is it an unfulfilled need? Try to figure out how to fill this hole. Is it a demotivation? Try to explain and find a motivator which you can use now. The key is to only solve the issues which are the root cause and not fiddle around with the symptoms. They will come back again with the next decision.

Ok, enough of the hard parts – back to the loving parts again! When you lead, you have responsibility. And with responsibilty comes the obligation to care for others. In my eyes one of the good reasons to become a leader. Make sure noone is overloaded with work or responsibility. That’s not easy: one guy can handle a workload or responsibility which is way to much for the next guy. Also the actual personal situation has to be considered. Most people can handle more when in a save position at home and at work. If there are hard times at home, it is not healthy to keep the same load on their shoulders as before. Whenever you give someone more responsibility make sure, that she gets the time to grow into the new situation. Nothing is more demotivating than being thrown into the too cold water. It is substantive to make sure they know it is their responsibility now and exactly in which steps they will grow into it. Therefore it is necessary to formulate the goals and steps as SMART as you can. Try to find the best fit for the organisations and the peoples needs. Watch out that they have everything they need! Including time, the support and all materials you can find and afford. Not only for the set of goals, but also for being the best version of themselve! Take a close look on the “attractive” part of the SMART goals. If the person is not accepting the goal you set, the end of the story will be disappointment. I know that not every interpretation of the smart acronym is with an attractive, but there is always an equivalent. Without the inner support of the one you lead, the failure is programmed and waiting in one or the other way. Assure, that your followers know the goal, like the goal and belief in theirself. Therefore appreciate their successes as often as you can and make failure a pleasure to learn from. No fingerpointing, no blaming, just say “that went wrong, lets have a look what we can learn and how we can do better!”. It’s as easy as this: be respectful! Nobody makes mistakes on purpose or to do harm. Or at least very few people. And if so, find out, if it is in their personality and set borders. If these don’t work, pick them out.

Try to delegate as much as you can. If you share responsibilty with your followers everyone wins: you win time to focus on better things than doing the daily work and the others win the chance to grow and feel seen in their full potential. Everybody can be happier with shared responsibilities.

By letting others grow around you and giving them the chance to grow into a great leader too, they learn to handle things in a healthy way. They are not thrown into a leaders role from zero to one hundred percent in a day, they can take over things slowly and learn to handle inner and outer factors in small and growing scopes. By this the things are not outgrowing and the feeling of being overwhelmed is not so often present.

The last two points i want to share are those: stay until its sure you have raised good leaders which can take over the situation and search for great leaders to follow by your own. When you stay till you know the new leaders are able to handle things in a good way, you are not leaving burned ground. Sure, sometimes the situation is hardened and there is no other way than leaving. For instance if you find yourself in a mismatch of your values and the organizations values. Or if constant disrespect is given to you or your role. If talking isn’t making things better, than you should pack your stuff together and search for something new. Here comes the last big point into play: if you change your position, search for environments that fit at least at the base to you, your values and your ideas. Therefore search for the leaders which do something better than you. Those you can learn from in one or the other way. Those, which inspire you just by little talks. Which let you grow and which are searching for more than power by having a leadership position. For instance they can be interested in virtuous circles or in the people around them. It is your responsibility to have a very close look where to go next before you leave anywhere! Be picky! Don’t go for less, you only have this one live and you want to life it as great as you can. Therefore try to find the best overall! One last hint: don’t blame yourself, if you made a mistake with one of your steps. Learn from it and go further!

What experiences do you have with leadership? What great points did you find in others, which made you follow them immediately? What worked well for you? Please let a comment, if you have great insights or if you liked this article!

Thanks for reading and have fun leading your life! 🙂