Tribal Leadership

TLI Two: Meritorious relationships, failure and a new project

I am blogging less on the Tribal Leadership class these days, not due to lack of interest but because I am currently in that odd period between two jobs.  The situation is making it more challenging for me to use what I am currently learning in a work context.  Our triad identified our project for the course and I am looking forward to sharing the details with you.  To learn more about it, you need to read on!

Before I talk about the leadership project, I would like to share the thoughts that ran through my head in the last week.  The main thing I got out of the recent homework is the idea of meritorious relationships, meaning building relationships on merit instead of building them on trust.  For people not following the course, stop a moment and think about the meaning of trust for you.

My experience taught me trust is something very difficult to build but something you can lose forever in an instant.  I will give you a certain amount of trust by default and you can gain more by earning it.  My challenge is once someone breaks my trust, it is usually very difficult to regain.  This makes building relationships on trust difficult because I may be holding people to exceptionally high standards.

When building a relationship on merit, you focus on whether you are getting enough value in the relationship that it merits you keep investing in it after a setback occurs.  You may still reach a point when you are not getting enough value and you decide to end the relationship after a setback, but your view when examining it changes.

When I heard the audio file on this, I thought it was a very intelligent way of looking at it.  I am still unsure how to put this concept into practice, but the idea is definitely there now.  I cringed in a few meetings with people this week each time I heard someone mentioned relationships build on trust.  Not to say trust is bad every time, but I can definitely see the value on building on more solid ground.

In the class tonight, someone asked what to do when the people you are coaching are failing.  When I coach agile teams, my approach to handling failure varies.  I try to understand how the team operates and what they are open to working on.  If the team is open to working at trying new things, I will provide extra coaching to help them be successful more quickly.

I change my approach when there is resistance though as  I will let a team fail on different levels depending on how much resistance I face.  Mild resistance, I will let them fail in ways where I can provide enough coaching to cushion the fall.  This gives them the opportunity to feel some measure of success but they will be able to find opportunities to improve themselves next time.  I use regular retrospective meetings to coach them towards these areas and let them choose what they want to improve and how to improve it.

I experienced some teams and individuals with much higher resistance and unfortunately sometimes, there was no way to cushion their fall.  Usually, they needed to fail spectacularly before being more open to learning.  The best way I found overall when dealing with groups of people that resist is to identify the influencers of the group.  Once I identify them, I try to work through their concerns through one-on-one conversations.  I found that turning these people into allies also turns them into your biggest supporters.  The important thing to do is listen to their concerns and work to address them.

In our triad meeting last week, we came up with an idea for our project for the class.  We would like to create a workshop to allow groups of people to identify the core values of each individual and of the group.  There is a “mountains and valleys” tool on the CultureSync web site, but we are curious to see what we can build.

There are two dimensions of this project we find interesting.  The first is getting more people involved in building this with us.  We are reaching out to triad members from the first class to get help and we also posted a pitch in our LinkedIn group.  Right now, we form a group of six or seven people to work on this project together.  If you are part of the class and would like to help us out, please contact us through my website or the LinkedIn group.

The second dimension is building the workshop itself.  Last week, we took some time to build a strategy worksheet we identified the information shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Workshop strategy worksheet

Figure 1: Workshop strategy worksheet

Figure 1 – Workshop Strategy Worksheet

During the class tonight, we did the six hats exercise to help us work through our project.  As usual, the breakouts are short and sometimes you need to stop when it starts getting interesting, but we got some good new ideas doing it.  I need to do some thinking around the six hats exercise this week, I feel there would be value in writing about how to use the exercise to build a strategy worksheet.

It surprised me during the exercise when we wore our green hats how easily James was just putting out ideas out there we never considered before.  It was as easy to see he lives in cool world as it was to see I live in solid world when we started talking next steps.

For the workshop, we need to talk through this with the participants, but we feel a good approach to building the workshop would be doing some brainstorming sessions and then breaking out in sub teams to build content.  Our next step will be to get some brainstorming activity started through e-mail or a phone call to identify the content we need to present.  We could then identify exercises we could do to pull out information from people.  It is a very exciting project for us and we look forward to seeing what we can come up with.

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