People engagement, which is about treating your employees as your customers, and embracing change by generating change, are the leadership challenges of today. How well do our leaders embody these leadership competencies?
Many leaders talk about sharing their vision. This is meaningless. It is a pretense of communicating a self-developed blue print for the institution and prescribing it to hapless followers with the assumption of their having bought into that vision. The setting is usually an offsite meeting where the euphoria arises from factors other than the shared vision and usually lasts till the next morning.
How can any employee own a vision unless he or she was involved in creating that vision? How would a leader engage his team successfully in co-owning that vision he has shared so generously and expect others to collaborate with him to action, without their being part of the creative process?
I see this charade happen every company I coach. All it leads is to the ‘emperor without clothes’ effect. No one dares to challenge the leader.
Co-creation and Collaboration leading to Accountability
Several processes exist to establish group-connect. Appreciate Inquiry and LSIP are among these that I have used successfully. These processes work well in groups generating understanding and learning. Rarely have I seen or been able to develop from the enthusiastic and appreciative sharing a collaborative action plan with accountability. Perhaps that was my limitation, not that of the process.
I, then experimented with other management and coaching processes to develop a model effective for organizations. The key performance indicators for this model were team building, individual and group awareness, and fulfillment of pre-defined objectives. What resulted is the SPEED™ model. I now offer this on a no-success no-fee basis to organizations that look for return on investment evidence, and train coaches in this process globally. I had also made a reference to this model in my earlier article.
The SPEED™ model has been developed from psychological and management principles. It helps leaders co-create a team vision that members can co-own and then collaborate on an action plan in which each one takes accountability. In a few dozen institutions, corporate, not for profit and start ups that deployed this model, results have exceeded objectives set at the beginning. The 5 steps of this simple model are:
Each member of the group, starting from the youngest, shares a powerful transformational, empowering personal life experience. The rest of the group appreciates the individual. A strong emotional bond builds the group into a team.
Presenting the Future
Leader of team presents a vision outline, fuzzy and non-prescriptive, to build on. Team works in smaller sub groups with drawing papers and crayons to create a visual vision board. Subgroups share and consolidate the co-created outputs into a co-owned Vision.
Team works through smaller subgroups, same as before or different, with the co-created, co-owned Vision to align with current reality and develop realistic options to move forward. No resource constraints are imposed till this stage. One or two options are chosen by team to work upon.
Subgroups work with selected options to build in specific action points with resource requirements and time lines, developing a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timeline) work plan.
Each team member takes accountability for one or more action with a clear time line, signs and offers to team leader. One or more members agree to create a dashboard to monitor actions and follow up through fortnightly review meetings.
The first three stages of SPEED are emotional and creative, right brain exercises to elicit non-linear thought, team building and co-creation of vision. The last two stages have a more analytical basis, and group coaching makes this process interactive and co-creative through inputs from within subgroups and the larger team.
In a recent assignment, the organization had undergone a massive downsizing of about 75% along with the leadership team. The new leadership needed to build morale and establish a vision to action program that the team would be accountable for within a short time frame and one that members of the team together would sell to the overseas corporate owner. It was a 2-day (10 hours a day) exercise with about 30 people, roughly 5% of the total headcount. One day was spent in sharing strengths, and the second day in the other four stages. At the end, each participant handed over a signed statement of accountability for his or her SMART objectives.
In the 6 months since this exercise, the team put in place a dashboard and review process. 80% of deliverable have been acted upon successfully.