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017 // Leadership Habits that Support Innovation Culture

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Leading Performance Facilitation

There are three habits people with leadership titles need. This is doubly true if their success involves creating transformative services and solutions. I regularly coach these habits during my client projects because I have to. Because without them, the new thing we are creating together will not survive and thrive.

When I say people with leadership titles, I mean performance facilitators like t:he president, team lead, vice president, director, etc. They are charged with achieving big goals, meeting challenging metrics, and, sometimes, orchestrating action pursuant to a strategy. To succeed, they must facilitate the performance of the talented people fueling everything.

To facilitate transformative performance, three kinds of connections must exist. Here are the three habits that build those connections.

Three Habits

20 X 4 X 12 — Know the people your performance facilitation serves — employees, contractors, partners, and volunteers. Find 20 minutes to spend chatting with one of the people you serve. You could drop into an office, go for a walk, do a zoom call outside, have a phone call from your treadmill, etc. Script: “How are you doing? What are you working on these days?” Then spend 85% of the time listening and asking them to tell you more. At the end, ask if there’s anything you can do to support their work. Then, say this, “Thank you.” Do this 4 times every month.

Thank You X Infinity — Thank people for everything. I can’t believe I’m typing this. Just say thank you. Thank people more than once. It costs you nothing. Every thank you adds to a person’s sense of belonging and feeling that their work matters. Script: “Thank you for [thing they did]. It really [why it mattered].” If it’s true, add: “The way you [aspect of what they did] meant a lot to me.” Who did you forget to thank this week? It’s rarely too late to say thank you.

Change X Shelter — Protect your people. Protect people when there is too much work. Protect them when life happens. Protect them when they choose to leave. Protect them when you ask them to leave. Protect them when you struggle to lead and when you fail. Protect them when they take on the risk and change excellence requires. Make your protection visible and public. Strive for a world where none of the people you serve can honestly say you didn’t have their back.

Three Habits = Three Human Connections

20 X 4 X 12 = My excellence is valuable here.
Thank You X Infinity = I’m part of something where my excellence matters.
Change + Shelter = We take care of each other. This is a place where I can experiment in pursuit of deeper excellence.

The weaker these connections are, the harder it is for organizations to create the new and transformative while delivering consistent excellent performance.

During my client engagements, when these connections are weak, I invite people with leadership titles into these three habits, and I build the three habits into the workshops and interactions I create. But all I can do is create space for, and receptiveness to, the three habits. People who were given leadership titles must choose, every day, to act, create and decide in ways that earn everything that flows into the word “leader.”

 

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