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!

Scrum is just another leadership attempt

Lets put a finger on some hard spots: Scrum is no silver bullet! It will not fit in every situation. On top it will not be the best solution for every situation. Whenever the humans in the organisation aren’t ready to accept and internalize the mindsets behind Scrum, it will not work.

Next spot i want to look at is what i call the holy knowledge how it should be. The Scrum Guide leaves much room for the implementations. This is on purpose. There is room for finding the best fitting solutions for every problem you and the organisation encounter. You can’t expect that two randomly implementations of Scrum are exact the same. Ok, you can, but you will be disappointed! No two organisations have the same

  • customers and their needs,
  • employees and their knowledge and needs,
  • roles and rules and
  • relationships and contracts.

Having said this, we must step back and admit, that there can not be a role, event or artefact that has to be exactly as you imagine it or saw somewhere else. Everything may differ. And it is ok! I dare to say everything should differ to fulfill the specific needs.

So lets accept, that Scrum is just an attempt how to solve problems. It is a great one, with many pros. But it is not more than one of many leadership attempts.

What is Scrum for you? Have you stumbled upon somebody stubborn? Let the world know and leave a comment!

Thanks for reading and sharing, hope you enjoyed it!

How to give advice

Let me give you some advice about a very complicated topic: ADVICE! It is an area where you can destroy many things or build real and vivid relationships. First of all i want to step on the shoulders of giants: stop your advice monster (a big THANK YOU again to Michael B. Stanier for this great metaphor from The Coaching Habit). Advice monster? Yes, giving advice is an art and you should not give it without permission and only if you are really forced to give it. But the most of us have a little monster on the shoulder, which is pushing us to give advice even if nobody asked for. It is our habit to give advice. Whenever you do it, the others, or better the advice recipients, will give their responsibility to you… and you guess it, you will take their chance to grow by this.

General things

Let’s dive quick into the topic: whenever somebody shows up and asks for advice, take the time for them. If it is not possible right now, make an appointment soon. Give the people the respect you would want to get and care! Step back from just saying “do this and that” towards listening and lifting up your fellows. Be flexible with the following steps – some people or situations need more, some people need less. Experiment with the process and try to find out what works best for you and in your surrounding. Be transparent about this experimentation by telling “let us try this and that”.

In my eyes it is appropriate to be happy, that somebody came to you with her problem. It is showing the big trust in you (or the arising one). As consequence thankfulness should be your attitude. This helps you later on being open and really helping.

Try to be as generous as possible. To the ones who come to you and the ones they might have trouble with. We are all humans and mistakes are human too. Even if you don’t like somebody it seems a good habit to assume always the best intents and freeing your mind towards those people.

The easy steps

Step one: Listen actively

First and most important of all: listen! But not just sitting around and waiting, be as curious as possible. Ask over and over again about more side parts or in depth. How should you be useful, if you don’t understand the full problem? And you will not understand it fully… never ๐Ÿ™‚

Step two: Open new options

Whatever came up in the discussion till now, somehow we don’t want to stay at the problem stage (side note: in the great book Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making the problem opening phase is followed by a grown zone, which should not extended to long). We need solutions! Those are made of possible options to solve the problem. Help your asker to see as much ways as you can to get out of the dark seas. Start maybe with “What do you think we could do about it?” to open space for own ideas. In my experience those are most fitting and sustained ones. If there are more solutions which aren’t found by their own, offer them in a friendly way by asking “Do you think this could work too?”.

Step three: Help deciding which option to choose

From here you will observe a wide range of possible things which could happen: from “Thank you so much, i will go this way!” to being completely overwhelmed and not able to decide. When in doubt, ask for every possible solution “What will change for now and in the future, if we go this way?”. Closely listen and note the things which come up. When you’ve talked about every useful solution, the question to answer is “Which way points to the best possible (or sometimes least bad) future?”. If there is such a solution and the advice seeker has a good feeling about it, you’ve made it. Ask again, if there is something left. Sometimes small side things are open and can be handled separated. Last part here: be thankful again and let everybody know it!

Step four (optional): Ask for feedback

If you two find a solution, that’s great! If it feels right to ask for a little feedback: go for it! Sometimes you will get the feedback anyway. Sometimes it is good to wait some days or weeks to ask how the things worked out.

Conclusion

Make a difference for the people who come to you! Don’t hurry to give advice to fast, let them stand up and go their way. This way they feel better and more responsible. They will have more self-efficacy and a boost of self-confidence.

Thanks for reading! What things came up when you gave advice? What mistakes did you make? What did you learn? Leave a comment and let the world know!

Responsibility Process

While reading and writing about Extreme Ownership i remembered, that i already heard of a similiar thing: the Responsibility Process from Christopher Avery. It also gives you the awareness, that you, and only you, are responsible for the things that happen in your life. Ok, sometimes you can not influence what is happening. But you can decide how to react on it! And there is the big power of the Responsibility Process: it just categorizes your responses to the world. You can take the responsibility or act in a irresponsible way. Those ways are obligation, shame, quitting, justifying and laying blame. And just for the entertainment: i forgot denial on purpose! Every single not responsible reaction is a way to somehow not feel the things which maybe are your part of the situation. By having this clear in your mind, it is getting easier to stand up feel responsible for the situation again. In my wallet i have printed and laminated card with the possible reactions. It reminds me from time to time to reflect in which states i am in different areas of my life. It helps me to get out of them, whenever i remind it.

How do you keep yourself responsible? What do you think about the responsibility process? Leave a comment and let the world know, what you think! And as always thanks for reading and i would be happy, if you share my posts ๐Ÿ™‚

Book review: Extreme Ownership

In this smaller review i want to present a real eye opening book about leadership: the Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. As the subtitle “How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win” already brings up, those two are former Navy Seals. Only by reading the blurb made me a better guy by converting a problem at work from “we’re stuck” into “i go first, let’s have a look where we can get things”. How comes, that a book can influence your live so easily? Its success is based on many smaller and bigger principles, which are described always in the same way: a deeply described situation of the war in Iraq, a principle explanation and in the end a transfer to the business world with real life examples.

The main principle is that: you are responsible for everything what is happening in your sphere of influence. It’s really that easy! This principle is valid for everything: your private life, your business life, your voluntary work for non profit organisations. Whatever it is, you are resonsible! And not just a bit like “yes, i could do something about it”. Really like “if there is something not fitting, i can and will fix it!”. It is pushing yourself into the doing and stepping forward. It was reminding me of the Responsibility Process of Christopher Avery, which also brings up that it is you part to change the game.

Conclusion

For me the book is absolutely important, because it points out the self-efficacy of everyone of us. It is quite interesting to read, even if you’re not into the army and war things. The main principles are in the first chapters. Later the principles are a bit less powerful, but that is only since they are not for so big parts of everybodies life. I recommend this book to everybody!

Have you read this book? Or an even better one? What are your suggestions about self-efficacy and taking responsibility? What worked and what didn’t? Just leave a comment and let the world know about!

Thanks for reading, i hope you enjoyed and took something useful out of it!

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 bigย  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 theย  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 Coaching Habit

Have you ever read a book and thought “that’s simple but genius”? No? Than you should read The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. If your answer is “yes”, it’s also highly recommended. Why am i so convinced by this book? The easy answer: the subtitle is “Say less, Ask more & Change the Way You Lead Forever” and it was really like this for me. The book itself is really entertaining to read. Short and concise chapters make it simple to read in a few hours and find the things later fast. There are several genius concepts in it, which make remembering them unbelievable easy. Best example is the advice monster. Whenever somebody comes to you and asks a question, most of us are used to give an advice. Often there isn’t even a question necessary to wake up this cute fellow which hinders real growth. Whenever the advice monster starts to take over control, your counterpart is not longer trying to find a solution herself. By this they will not develop further and get used to have their problems solved by someone else. You see where this is going: you break their learning experience and even make others stop thinking. And we don’t need to talk about the bad things caused this, right?

The book is divided into short chapters which either are highlighting a question or some extra knowledge about habits, breaking them and introducing new ones. Let’s have a short look on three of the seven concise, world changing questions!

Question #1: What’s on your mind?

Somehow before getting lost in small talk or chitchat you need to kickstart the conversation about the things which drive your counterpart crazy. Therefore this short and easy one is designed to get to the point straight ahead. I feel like every word more on this one would be boring and i am uncomfortable writing so much about it ๐Ÿ™‚ so go for it!

Question #2: And what else?

Often the first thing isn’t the only one. And even better: it’s not the true, most important, most hurting point. The elephant is still unadressed! Therefore a second, third or thousandth time asking what there could be is moving the spotlight until everything is said. That’s the justification for this question: finding the things which matter and give them a chance to be solved!

Question #3: What’s the real challenge here for you?

When everything is out of the mouth and on the table, we need to find the most struggling thing. The one which drives the other crazy! Nobody can tell you better which thing it is, than the one who came up with all his problems. Again a good point to realize, that you shouldn’t solve problem number two, three or anything else than number one. And on top you should not solve the problem by advising! Lift your peer to find her own solution. Than everyone learned somthing, feels better and is empowered!

Overall there are seven of those smart questions, which all have their genius reason. They all help you to step up on your leading and your sparring partner to get out at least a bit smarter.

Did you already read the book? Would you read it after this blog post? How do you coach your colleagues? What worked well for you? Leave a comment and let the world know what you think!

As always thanks for reading and have much success in coaching!

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!