As we close out the year for the ages, many are using the time to reflect on the recent past in order to set the stage for what is next. Our experience tells us that for most, this is a loosely defined informal process which tends to produce minimal, if any, change in attitudes and behaviors. For this reason, we focus our coaching with clients, as well as the theme of this post, on learning. By definition, learning results in modifying behaviors by experience. We focus on the issue of learning because without the observable modified behavior, we could argue actual learning does not occur.
As early as this past summer, we began asking our clients what they had learned about themselves over the previous 3-4 months. The idea is centered on leaders making time to consciously capture their experiences to learn what changes to make in their businesses. In our experience working with these clients, learning falls into three categories. With that in mind, let’s look at learning about:
...Yourself ~ Effective leadership begins with self-awareness and self-leadership. The onset of the pandemic and social turmoil shined a bright light on who each of us really are based on our reactions to these events. How resilient are you in light of a sudden change in business? How do you truly think about diversity, equity and inclusion in light of the very public social unrest? What has changed in your thinking today from this time last year? As a leader, what did you learn about yourself?
...Relationships ~ Effective leaders fully understand and appreciate the value of relationships in their success. We would suggest events of this year tested a good many relationships, specifically around effective communications. Virtual work alone has strained seemingly strong relationships based on proximity in the workplace. It also heightened mental health and emotional awareness necessary to maintain those same relationships. Learning to ask better questions and listen more effectively are but a few critical learnings as business leaders navigate the pandemic, social unrest and a contentious election cycle. As a leader, what have you learned about your relationships?
...Leading Others ~ Probably no other topic has more occupied the pages of leadership blogs, social media and academia than leading others. Effective leadership in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) World is hard on a good day. Throw in all the events of the past year and it can be downright daunting. How effective has your leadership been and how do you know? For the perfectionists in the crowd, how is that style working for you and your team? What are your followers telling you that is new to what you thought you knew? As a leader, what have you learned from your followers?
In early 2016 we wrote about staying relevant and the process of changing attitudes and behaviors. As leaders make the time to reflect on this past year, understand that simply knowing is not the same as learning. Unless behavior changes, results will not. Unless attitudes change, behavioral change is temporary at best!
As a leader, what have you learned? If you don’t know, we can help.
All solid points, Rick. As far as leadership goes, and your point on VUCA, I've managed the company the same as I've always done. If I was worried about something, I've kept myself together in order for the staff to not panic with me. I've made sure to communicate that we have built up some nice cash reserves. We've been blessed with a lot of work during the year, so my colleagues here continue to feel secure. But most of the time, I maintain my loose, fun, management style.
Thank you for your insights on your own management style. As the business continues to grow, the learning process will help make any adjustments to your management style while supporting the culture through the growth.