July 11, 2017

My 7 favorite templates for leading. (part 2 of Leaders need to be misunderstood)

(For part 1 of this post go here.)

As a practical resource, I want to make sure that you have some tools that you can draw on. If you are going to have the courage to set the pace as a leader, to be willing to be misunderstood for a moment as people are joining you, I don't want you to be surprised by their reactions. You're going to be surprised in circumstances as a leader. You can't control all circumstances. But we should not be surprised by reactions, because they fall into patterns. I actually use seven different kind of templates that keep me sharp. I teach them all the time. I used to carry some of them around in my wallet, laminated, because I want them just to become a part of me.

You have knowledge that you draw on that aids you every day, so actively choose to make these a part of who you are. I've shared them before, and I'm just going to do a quick overview because we want to keep these in our bones, in our guts, part of our soul.

Template #1: The Four Stages Of A Team

The first template is the four stages of a team. This has been researched and studied. The four stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. When a team forms, it forms around an initial idea, vision, enthusiasm. Then at stage two, storming, there's going to be conflict because it's not like we thought, and then it normalizes into a good rhythm, and then it hits that fourth stage of performing.

Healthy leadership means knowing what phase you're in. It's called situational leadership. You can research that with Ken Blanchard – he did some work on what to pay attention to in each phase and what you need to bring.

Template #2: The Four Approaches To Change

The second template is the four approaches to change the Myers-Briggs personality test talks about: visionary, guardian, relational, and activist.

Visionaries see the future. That's you. That's me. Our first impulse is to respond to the activist's enthusiasm, and we leave behind the guardians who think that they need to protect the ground that's been taken in the past, and if they take this new direction it's going to give up what needs to be held onto. When we only respond to the activist's enthusiasm, we make the guardians nervous and they check out, and people are thinking, "Not everyone is unified on this vision. I can't have peace about it. I'm not going to support it."

As visionaries, we want to go to the guardians first, win them over, and tell the activists to chill. The relation will come along, and we're moving forward. Not that it's that simple. But I have led organizations using all these templates, and they will help you in moments quickly get a sense of where you are and what to do next.

Template #3: The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

The third template is the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you've not read it, Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a book by Patrick Lencioni, and it provides an awesome model to get you really aware of what blocks peer accountability. Healthy teams aren’t just about one person bringing accountability. It's about team accountability, each person on the team holding the others to what they said they would do.

Template #4: The Seasons

The fourth template I use is The Seasons. I did a whole podcast on The Seasons. It's actually the next book I'm working on, because The Seasons are a model to recognize the next action to take any time you might feel stuck or not happy with the result you're getting. Am I in the fall? Is there something to let go of? In winter, lean in and study. In spring, wait for that new energy to come. In summer, rest with vigilance.

Template #5: The Leadership Challenge

The fifth template is a book called The Leadership Challenge, and there's five pieces to that. The two that are most relevant to what we're talking about here is “challenge the process” and “model the way.” They're simple. What does a leader do? They do these five things. Modeling the way is what we're talking about today. You get a vision and you start living it out, and that vision is usually built on challenging the process. You're challenging what was done before. It's Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jesus, and Mandela, to use the earlier examples, saying, "There is a different way."

Template #6: The Five Stages Of A Vision

The sixth template is the five stages of vision, which I've taught you. That vision starts with getting bothered. You get bothered. Then you prepare. You execute. As you begin to execute, you'll face distractions, so you is focus. You celebrate the ground that you've taken, and then you get bothered again. If you're not stirred emotionally on something, then you're blocking up. Something is blocked up within you and you're not going to be able to access that vision. You got to get into that visceral guts of what is bothering me, what needs to change, what needs to be better.

Template #7: Leave Everything Better

The seventh template is a very simple thing, and this is the simplest way I know to express leadership. Leadership is all of your life. You lead in every category. You're never not leading, and you want to leave everything better. By leaving everything better, you're actually leading. It doesn't matter what it is. It's a relationship. It's walking through the parking lot. It's picking up a piece of trash. Leave it all better. I know that sounds weird, but if you do the small things, the big things take care of themselves.

When you're leaving everything better, when you have a question of what to do in leadership because most of life is gray, always err on empowering people. That's what healthy leaders do.

Let me conclude by saying this. I've talked a lot about vision. What is the vision? Ultimately, the people are the vision. The vision isn't some separate thing that we impose and push on the people. The people are the vision. Any great vision is about growing people.

I lost sight of this. It was my late 20s and I was talking to one of my buddies and he's been a key voice at different points of my life where I was making a decision. He said to me, "The way that you talk about the organizational vision, it's like you're pushing it on the people." And he said this phrase: "Chris, the people are the vision." That hit with a thud. That was before I started doing a lot of the research that I've done this last decade on identity and identity formation. Now I know that secure leaders are focused on building people, helping them become better.

The pace of the team is directly correlated to the pace of the leader. You will feel unhindered when you make peace with the fact that you're going to be misunderstood for a moment, you're not surprised by people's reactions, and you have the courage to keep casting the vision through all means necessary until people join you where you are. When they join you where you are, it'll be time to be misunderstood again and stretch that vision out. Happy leading, happy setting that pace and embracing the courage to be misunderstood. Lead with vision, leave it all better, and err on the side of empowerment.

(all of these are in addition to the template SightShift is based on: identity>mission>community)

(iTunes podcast link here for more about being misunderstood as a leader)