I am speaking with the ASQ’s Human Developlement and Leadership Division on August 4th at 3 pm eastern on “Trust & Adaptability: Servant Leadership Lessons from Joining an Organization During a Pandemic” exploring from what Steven M. R. Covey wrote in Ken Blanchard and Renee’s Broadwell’s book Servant Leadership in Action that the key outcome for a servant leader is trust. Trust and servant leadership are both built on intent. The Trust built will allow your organization to be more adaptable. Adaptability builds resilience and allows innovation and transformation.
This talk will mostly focus on my continual learnings as I’ve worked, and usually struggled, to build trust during this pandemic in an environment where I’ve never met most of my co-workers.
When I first joined my current company I spent a lot of time introducing myself. I’ve been here now a year, and there are new folks, new relationships and most important we are getting ready to change our way of working by introducing hybrid work.
As a leader it’s important to be honest in who you are and how you work. The best technique I’ve seen for this is a user manual, a quick way to express what works and what does not work for interacting with me.
Mine looks like this:
I’ll be updating this as part of my team establishing a new team governance charter.
Professor Edmondson in this article is discussing cross-industry collaboration, but the central four levers apply in any organization.
Having a vision that strives for a True North of Quality is critical. Make it align to individual needs. Remember that vision grows and adapts as you go, and as others get the opportunity to shape. Vision has six criteria:
Stimulus: Vision needs to include actual benefits for those affected by it. String vision brings people together as community, not as strangers. Stimulus means people see themselves in the vision and understand how they will benefit.
Scale: Vision should be of great breadth and depth with potential for extension at later stages. Vision never leads to or accepts a dead end. It shows multiple potentials for expansion.
Spotlight: Vision assumes responsibility, immediate and extended. The greater the vision, then the greater the responsibility for its impact on people’s lives and the legacy that will be left afterwards. This responsibility needs to bring opportunity for people who are involved. This is part of the vision that will drive the volunteer army.
Scanning: A visionary sees the signs on the way to success. Pay attention to to pain points, spot trends and see where and how value can be added. Gemba walks are critical here.
Simplicity: Vision is elegant thinking about complicated and complex things. A vision is not a vision unless it’s understood. Simplicity lets people believe in vision. If the vision is complicated most people will ignore it. Vision operates and makes execution possible from its simplicity. The simpler the vision in its core meaning, the easier it can be shared with employees, customers and partners and thus, easier to scale inside and outside an organization.
Passion: Vision provokes strong emotions. A strong vision is always accompanied by excitement and passion. Excitement equals passion that gives an emotional power to a vision. A strong vision brings strong excitement that is difficult to contain. Strong excitement and passion are highly contagious. A simple and compelling vision excites more passion than any mere goal.
Psychological safety is the state where employees feel that there is safety in taking risks at work setting. In this safe environment employees will engage in risk-taking actions that are inherent to creative endeavors and if they perceive safety, then they are more comfortable to voice their opinions. This safety makes them more willing to take the chances to own the vision and try to experiment with making that vision a reality which motivates them to develop, promote, and implement new ideas.
This safety will enable knowledge sharing, which can come in many different styles, including combination which creates something new.
Through inclusive, democratic leaders who value the inclusion of employees in a particular work process, employees have the chance to raise their voice for generating, promoting, and implementing useful ideas Through leveraging vision these inclusive leaders exhibit openness attributes that communicates the importance of taking innovative actions and gives employees the guarantee that in case of negative consequences they will not be punished, experiencing greater psychological safety.
Employees experience non-defensive behavior, and feel high levels of self-worth and self-identity, motivating employees not only to generate new ideas, but also to promote and implement new ideas in the organization.
The organization that is structured to accept these ideas will continue to drive iterative cycles of improvement.