Connecting you to inspirational best practice thinking
Posted by: Carl | Posted on: February 25th, 2013 | 0 Comments
2.30pm – Spanish venison
3.00pm – Salmon mousse
3.30pm – Paua ravioli
4.00pm – Mini festive pies
4.30pm – Beef sliders and pulled lamb
5.00pm – Lemon cheesecakes
This was our family’s 2012 Christmas meal. The 10 people at the table all stated it was the best Christmas meal they have ever had. So what does this have to do with Leadership or even organisational performance? Well, it turns out a lot.
This meal wasn’t conceived, cooked and served in the traditional way. There was no single ‘cook’ who ran the show, took all the risk and all the glory. Rather it was a truly distributed team effort where everyone got to be a leader and control a small dish, or to be a hero – as it worked out!. This is something I think we can learn from at work.
The traditional method of one Christmas cook who runs the show creates a single point of success and failure. Sure there is often delegation of tasks like ‘peeling the potatoes’ or making the gravy but the meal is all about one person. Everyone benefits from eating a great meal but the risks are many. One person is very stressed on Christmas day; the meal is ruined if the Turkey is overdone, and missing ingredients can make it all fall apart. Worse, these risks often stop anything new and innovative (read ‘tasty’) getting tried.
However distributing the job where everyone gets to prepare and serve an entree sized dish simultaneously decreases risk and increases innovation. We had six different dishes – who cares if one was bad? Everyone wanted to impress so brought their A game to the table. The result was an amazing, innovative and very tasty feast. Best of all, everyone got to be a hero and share in the glory of their dish in the process making the meal more memorable.
Don’t think it was easy though. The feast was my wife’s vision and she got serious resistance. “But what about the meat?”, “Errr will we have roasties?”, “OK but I’ll bring desert as well”… What inspired me was how she overcame these issues. It went along the lines of, “Everyone is doing a dish, one dish, if you want that then make it, we will have an amazing meal”. She didn’t try to convince them of the merits of the idea or even defend it. She was all about action and proving through doing. The only management that was required was to make sure that two people didn’t cook the same thing! This really struck home for me when I reflected on how many times I’ve tried to explain and sell new ideas at work rather than just show them.
I believe this feast is directly comparable to how we should seek to lead and manage organisations today. We have a large number of highly skilled and capable people but generally manage them like a traditional Christmas meal through single people and single points of failure. The truth is that this approach is even more costly in our organisations than with Christmas meals.
- Researchers have shown that autonomy and recognition are some of the fundamental drivers of human motivation – why not tap into this more?
- Innovation and new ideas to build better organisations are held back by the risk created due to limited skill sets of centralised leadership cultures and practices. This needs to change.
- Many of today’s organisational problems are too complex to solve with just one or two people. However people working autonomously towards a shared end can.
OK – so how do I put this idea in action?
Please contribute your own ideas in the comments below, but here are a few to get you started.
- Set a clear and vivid vision for your organisation/team/group but don’t plan in detail
- When leading and managing imagine yourself as an architect rather than a builder
- Facilitate rather than direct when you delegate – this means giving real autonomy over how people choose to do chunks of work
- Break and challenge convention – whenever you or someone else says “this is how it has always been done”, look for another way
- Focus on doing rather than explaining what you will do. The best mandate comes from results
- Celebrate and recognise the results that emerge
Have fun and enjoy your next family feast!
Posted by: Emma Sanders-Edwards | Posted on: May 2nd, 2012 | 0 Comments
It’s easy and common to imagine that if; you work harder, you get a promotion, you work with a good team of people – you will be happy, right? But how often do you consider the relationship goes the other way around? That if you are happy, you are more likely to be successful, get promoted, and work with a great team of people?
Well, that’s exactly what Shawn Achor suggests – that after a decade of research, “happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality-of-life improvements.”
Righto. So now we just get happy, and then we’ll reap the rewards? How do we go about that then? In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor encourages his readers to practice happiness. Such as writing down things you’re grateful for, exercising 10 minutes a day, and thanking people within your social circle. But Achor found the single biggest predictor of happiness to be perceived social support. So people who feel they have lots of support around them, were more likely to be happier.
But here’s the rub. People who gave out a lot of social support were also happier. And not just a little happier. They were 10 times more engaged at work and had a 90% higher likelihood of promotion over the following four years. So if you play a role in making other people happier then you’re also better off?
It seems so. In a project designed to find out what makes a good boss, Google found that having time for people – by making a connection and being accessible – was the key to being a good leader. Project Oxygen collected over 10,000 observations on Google managers, and found that managers who made time for other people had a greater impact on how employee’s felt about their job and their performance than any other factor. The best managers had teams that perform better, retained better and were happier. This coming from even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings asked questions and took an interest in people’s lives and careers.
So, instead of waiting for happiness to hit once x, y or z occurs, maybe we should try kick-starting our own happiness cycle? Using Shawn Achor’s tips to practice being happy, along with providing social support and connecting with others, let’s see what impact we can play not only on other’s happiness, but also our own. I’m certainly going to give it a try.