Daily urgency and stress is toxic, specially if you want to create the best possible innovation. 4 reasons why you really should create regular pauses from the daily to-do list grind and have your team enjoy dreaming-the-future sessions:
Daily urgencies clutter your team’s mind and do not allow them to think openly. Pausing that and getting them in a future planning session will definitely give a breath of fresh air to their tired and stressed minds and give them fresh energy to go back to that daily grind later.
If your daily tasks and decisions are creating conflict and you want to bring your team together or if you wish to get a wider team to go from polarisation and partisan thinking to finding common ground, coming together to dream the future is definitely the way.
Dreaming is good for you, it has a liberating possibilities-opening effect on your attitude, brain and creativity.
Lifting your head and looking at the future, will allow you see more of what is around you now and of what might be around you next: fundamental to make the best decisions today.
Filling the entire working day doing things, being productive is not good. Not good for you nor for your team. Create great work and working environment by taking regular daily and weekly – time out – to ask yourself not just the big why purpose question “why am I doing this?” but also the equivalently important and less mentioned one “what is the outcome?”
Increasingly purpose is at the centre of most motivational workplace drivers but less emphasis and consequently less time is dedicated to the consequences of your work, what will be different (in my and in others) when I do this (or that).
A very basic example to help visualise what these two related but different questions imply and how using them well can motivate your and your team’s desire to make magic happen.
THE WHY: The Purpose We are here to create the best learning experience
THE WHAT FOR: What is the outcome of my work, of this team’s work? Once we deliver on our purpose, I will have grown my understanding of learning, we will have a better knowledge of learning development as a team experience, our users will have grown their capacity and through that be able to take forward much more impactful lives, harnessing much more of their unlimited capacity … thanks to my/our work.
Beyond this very basic example, think for yourself and do enjoy those time-outs, start conversation with your team, not only about your WHY but also on your WHAT FOR.
Taking time out to exit automated work mode and giving thought and metrics to these two complementary questions will explode your team’s drive and allow them to really focus great work to achieve what will emerge as the most outcomes.
How do I stimulate my team’s (*) desire to both be creative AND then implement that creativity into innovative ways forward?
By “innovative ways forward” I mean not only ideating great new products / services but also innovating / improving / adapting to an ideal level the way we work, take decisions, communicate … do things.
Just informing your team of the plan is unlikely to get most people excited about their work. But also just being emotional, communicating in an emotional way, will only touch one part of the inspiration of your team.
Instead being empathic, understanding your team, listening to the people in your team and knowing what emotions move them … THAT is where we can really connect with the deep motivation of your team.
So the emotion we as leaders of great teams where work is lovely and where you love to work starts by an emotional connection, by investing the time to create that sincere, authentic connection that will ignite pure magic.
With our and our team members’ schedules so full, it will sound very counterintuitive to suggest that giving them the space for a side job be a good idea but it is one of the best ways to bring a new level of motivation and of innovation to your team members.
People will grow and thrive and ultimately be more productive and useful to your team if they can get a balance of a stable job and the buzz and freshness of time dedicated to a side gig.
Think of all the great people you know who work very hard in their day job and then dedicate, either voluntarily or even paid time to create a side enterprise / blog / something outside their workplace.
Instead of being more tired, they are more energized, why? Three reasons:
At work you often have to deal with problems that others created for you and are constrained by the rules and culture of the company (however great it is). In a side gig you have the freedom to experiment, to try things out, it is not your main job, it is something extra.
Operating outside of your day-time working environment you get new insights. You will will work with people who are different than the usual people at work, you will be operating in an environment that is new and that will give you new insights, fresh new outlooks, an awareness of new trends that you can then bring back to the day-job.
The passion that is let free in your out-of-work gig, what YOU decided to do, what you are free to do, what really drives you deeply, will rub off and bring new joy, new passion in yourself that you will then apply also during “the day” in your stable job.
Are you allowing / encouraging your team to have a side gig?
Inaction can be good but is usually not conducive to a winning strategy. So why do we fail to take action and what kinds of actions help us and our organizations most?
With so many choices, so many possibilities and possible outcomes inaction is one likely outcome: you are so overwhelmed that you spend an inordinate amount of time just pondering on what might be best. Hence my experience of the rule of three, that you try your best to reach with your team three possible options to choose from. That is manageable, if you have 26 possibilities it will take much longer to take any action and often just be sitting there evaluating and not doing anything.
One method to quickly reduce options down to three (besides being lazy and stopping at the first three ideas for action that come to mind) is to be very sharply clear about the purpose of the team, the why and also the how, the way in which the organization is expected to behave. Only the options that do something to fulfil the purpose of the company and that are aligned with the how, the values of the company should be accepted as options.
Formula 1 team owner Frank Williams famously had a great way to make quick decisions: every time he received an invoice he asked “will paying this invoice make my car go faster?” Yes = he agreed , No = he did not agree.
Minimalists mention a way to get rid of excess: every day get rid of one thing. It is easy to achieve and it creates a habit. It becomes a surprisingly effective way to want to do more, to want to take more actions. Part of the trigger to action is that it is 1. easy, it is 2. doable and it is 3. satisfying: an object was there and is now no longer there cluttering my space with minimum effort. So that other rule of three is another great motivator and one you can try and implement in your team. Depending on your team you might wish to substitute 1. easy with 1. challenging as it might be a better motivator for a high performance team.
I am currently snowed in, and have been for a few days and I don’t live in a farm in Northern Europe but in Madrid. This has meant important disruption to my basic movements compounded by the raging pandemic that is skyrocketing around me, it seems like an apocalyptic “what’s going to happen next” situation.
This might be a familiar distressing situation for your business, when a situation of crisis surrounds every angle of your organization and where the natural outcome for the morale and inspiration of your team will be a draining continuous firefighting. How can you as a leader get your team out of that negative, non-productive situation? DREAM !
When the reality around you is too negative, dreaming of the future we want to create is liberating. It lifts a heavy weight off your shoulder and for a moment you and your team will not be living in crisis mode but in dream mode. That is where everything is lighter and freer, and more creative and where so much is possible.
A practical example came from my friends at Soul.com who were working in a change management accompaniment in a big bank that was facing serious problems. During the session that was trying to find solutions to a terrible series of complex problems, someone came up with a shocking statement “You know what? I think that banking as we know it is dead!” . A moment of panicked silence was soon followed by an audible sigh of relief by the entire board room. It was as if a huge weight a grey cloud was suddenly lifted off and they felt now free to create the future without being tied down by the nagging every day heavy issues.
The positive transformative mindset power of shifting into “dreaming the future” mode from time to time, allows you and your team to extrapolate yourself from daily struggles and both create a new spirit, a new momentum and set the path towards that better future instead of being stuck in what might well be a dead end road.
How and how often are you and your team putting yourself in “dream mode”?
To try and understand why leaders acting with empathy are so successful nowadays I started by looking at the definition of Empathy (and I share more about this fundamental trait in these articles here and here ) : “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”
At a time when everything seems to happen with such little opportunity for us to control speed or direction, being understood, having our team leader being sensitive to our discomfort and uncertainty is such a fundamental element. It allows any team member to feel understood and as a direct consequence feel part of the team, feel it is worth being in that team, feeling that I belong here, that I want to contribute to the success of this team.
Empathy unifies people in a team, organization. It creates stronger support through which your motivation raises but also your willingness to innovate, to take intelligent risks, to try things out increases dramatically.
And today and tomorrow’s companies desperately need that confidence in the future, that daring attitude, that working together with full engagement. So that’s where empathy becomes such a super power.
You don’t naturally feel empathy? Aware of just how important this element is at this time of uncertainty, then look for team members who do have that trait and put them in a position of influence, complementing your own other leadership skills.
Being promoted is an aspiration. It is one of the workplace objectives that bring about the greatest satisfaction when achieved and also greatest frustration if you are nor getting that coveted promotion. Why is it so important?
Besides the possible pay increase, the key payoff of being promoted is recognition: possibly the biggest motivator at work and in life.
You have been promoted = you are great, you are doing a great job, you deserve more and we are giving this to you.
But you cannot promote everyone and you cannot promote endlessly, so how can you as a leader, keep motivating, without promotion being part of the solution? Substituting promotion with recognition.
“I don’t need a promotion” is the environment you want to create but you should be aware of why people will say this: GOOD: I don’t need a promotion because I am fine here, I feel respected, my rights are covered, I thrive, I enjoy the relationships with rest of the team, I have the ownership and autonomy I need. BAD: I don’t want a promotion because I am not good enough. Insecure people who think they reached the best they can do and don’t feel they could do a lot more. Here you have insecurity, underlying dissatisfaction and an ability to be more and do more that is untapped. These are people who are actually not satisfied and that you should make sure are accompanied to reach their full self.
“We believe that only when an approach is inspired (read: the spirit blown into it), can it be successful and transformative. It doesn’t matter how smart the strategy is. If people do not believe it, it has no possibility of success.
All transformation starts with one person. If there is one person who believes in the values that formed the foundation of the strategy, he or she will give meaning to it by ‘living it’. If one person lives the example by taking actions based upon the common principles, new possibilities will appear … There is nothing more contagious than someone who sees and uses new possibilities. Not as an opportunist, but in the spirit of the values and the purpose. Living the values from inside out, in contrast to the values being forced upon from outside in.”