In the fast-paced world of business, a cohesive team that pulls together is essential for success. However, it’s not uncommon for teams to experience periods where they’re not firing on all cylinders, or pulling together, struggling to sing from the same hymn sheet or any other euphemism you may like, for not working together well. If your team is facing such challenges, this blog is for you.
There are lots of proven strategies out there, to help you refocus your team on collaborative success. Here are some of our favourites, because we have experience of them working really well. They focus on trust, accountability, and sharing a common purpose.
Cultivate Trust Within the Team: The Bedrock of Collaboration
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful team. Without trust, communication breaks down, collaboration splinters, and the team’s overall performance suffers. To rebuild trust within your team, you may like to try these strategies:
Open and Transparent Communication:
- Encourage open and honest communication within the team. Establish a culture where team members feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Regular team meetings, both formal and informal, can provide a platform for transparent discussions. A “No Surprises” culture can also help – encouraging the sharing of bad news early, along with the freedom to fail (so long as your team learns) will build a strong bond of shared trust and unspoken reliability.
Lead by Example:
- Leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering trust. Leaders should lead by example in this regard. How? By demonstrating integrity, reliability, and transparency. When team members witness these qualities in their leaders, it sets a positive tone for the entire team. It also sets a level of mutual expectation – everyone is expected to behave decently to their colleagues, to keep their word and to be honest and open in their dealings with others. Open means not hiding important details; it does not mean bogging your colleagues down with minutiae which clog the team’s effectiveness.
Team-building Activities beyond the spaghetti and marshmallows
- When you read “team-building”, does your heart sink, or your eyes roll? It’s such a hackneyed term isn’t it? Bitter memories of faffing about with people you don’t know (or don’t like – or both!) in the rain to make you all work together magically often come to mind. Don’t worry – that’s not what we’re talking about here! We recommend working on how to build trust-based bonds between your team members, using exercises that are based in the team’s strengths. How to find out their strengths? We use a range of profiling tools. You can use what you like, but focusing on strengths uses positive psychology to support people to build bonds from a good place. That creates a real camaraderie – and that’s what you need to get you through the tough times (or to get people to work together as you know they can).
Instil Accountability: Empowering Individuals for Collective Success
Accountability is the glue that holds a team together. When each team member takes ownership of their responsibilities and is accountable for their actions, the entire team benefits. If you are wondering whether you have this, ask whether you have a blame culture. If you do, that’s a lack of accountability! Here are some actionable steps to change that:
Clearly Defined Roles and Expectations:
- Ambiguity regarding roles and expectations can lead to confusion and frustration. Clearly define each team member’s role and responsibilities, ensuring that everyone understands how their contributions align with the team’s goals. Wherever you can, agree this first with the team member, rather than impose it on them (if that feels difficult, re-read the first section on trust, above).
Regular Check-ins and Feedback:
- Establish a system of regular check-ins and feedback sessions. These can provide opportunities to discuss progress, address challenges, and celebrate achievements. Constructive feedback should be a two-way street, with team members feeling comfortable providing input as well as receiving it. Again, the “no surprises” rule applies here, with no Big News kept waiting for annual appraisals. That’s secrecy (re-read the first section again!) and can be toxic.
Goal Setting and Milestones:
- Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, exciting and recorded (SMARTER) goals for the team. Break down larger objectives into smaller milestones, allowing for a sense of accomplishment from team members along the way. This can also help if your team are feeling overwhelmed – “chunking down” into small work packages that can be achieved can be transformative when they are faced with a raft of KPIs and don’t know where to start. Celebrating these achievements reinforces the team’s commitment to accountability.
Define and Communicate a Shared Purpose
Uniting the team towards a common goal is a powerful motivator that can really bring individuals together to make a team. It also has the potential to be powerful, to remind a team why they do what they do, together. When team members understand and believe in the purpose of their work, collaboration becomes more natural. Here’s some ideas for how to engender and communicate that shared purpose:
Craft a Compelling Mission Statement:
- You could refocus your team, by having them develop a mission statement that encapsulates their purpose and values. This statement should inspire and resonate with each team member, fostering a sense of pride and commitment to the collective mission. It should also remind them of what works, what they are best at and what they enjoy.
Align Individual Goals with the Team’s Purpose:
- We would always recommend that your team members can see a clear connection between their individual contributions and the overarching purpose of the team. When individuals understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged. So when you’re having feedback or goal-setting conversations, revisiting this can be really powerful.
Regularly Reinforce the Shared Purpose:
- Messages in corporate communication work best with repetition and reinforcement. So if you can integrate the team’s purpose into your regular communication channels, that is another useful way to reinforce that sense of collective endeavour. Whether it’s during team meetings, in project updates, or through more widespread internal communications, consistently reinforcing the shared purpose keeps it front-and-centre for everyone.
So, in the end, taking a team that’s not firing on all cylinders and turning it around takes work. More than that, it takes planning and intentional action. By keeping your focus on trust, accountability and that all-important shared purpose, you create a framework for improvement. You can choose to give our tried-and-tested approaches or you can go your own way. Either way, clear and open communication, together with a supportive approach that encourages your teams to re-discover their A-game, will be crucial to your team rebuilding their resilience.
If this sounds like something you need, but you’d like to talk it over, we would be delighted to chat with you. Please contact us to book a confidential conversation, to explore how to get your team pulling together once again.
Image credit: Yan Krukau: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-white-dress-shirt-covering-his-face-7640484/
(Image credit: Luis Villasmil on Unsplash )
Have you ever felt the need to clear your mental clutter? Are you juggling multiple priorities, together with brilliant ideas, and all the while afraid of forgetting the best ones? Perhaps you just want to put your thoughts on paper to see where they lead.
I confess I am one of those people who enjoys decluttering programmes on television. The sense of peace, calm and purpose that “clear decks” bring is palpable. In the same way, I derive immense satisfaction from helping clients organize their thoughts. Witnessing their hopes, dreams, and fears laid bare is a profound privilege. Brené Brown asserts, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” I’ve seen this courage displayed by my clients many times. Every single time I am proud for them; I know how hard it can be to do.
Given that I offer a service that helps clients clear mental clutter, I thought I would present a case study to illustrate how it works.
A client approached me with the exciting task/challenge of downloading the contents of their brain. In effect, they needed to clear mental clutter. It was a tremendous compliment and a significant responsibility. We met in their office, facing a massive, empty whiteboard.
This client was no stranger to challenges. They were an ambitious leader, driven by excellence, equipped with a focused intellect, unwavering confidence, and a thirst for personal development. A blank whiteboard posed no intimidation.
Instead of a simple brain dump, my client asked, “How shall we approach this?” It was a fantastic question.
In every coaching session, the client should lead. So, we discussed what my client needed and what they wanted to achieve beyond just emptying their mind. What was the purpose, the desired outcome, and the change they sought?
The goal was to explore ambitious business plans and address personal aspirations, ultimately creating the mental space to think through their plans.
The process: how we help you clear mental clutter
We began by listing personal and business ambitions, noting the challenges, envisioning the company’s future, creating a mind map, and filling the whiteboard.
The hard work may seem like the client’s, but I was there every step of the way. I asked probing questions, cutting to the heart of the matter. Progress was clean, with no distractions.
My role was to challenge their thinking, test the robustness of their ideas, and help them gain new perspectives. Playing Devil’s Advocate refined their goals.
Once the whiteboard was full, the client structured their thoughts, taking a literal step back to gain perspective. A clear plan emerged. Within three years, despite challenges like Covid, their company grew, diversified, and freed the client to pursue personal ambitions.
How can this help you?
In today’s busy world, having space for unfettered thinking seems like a luxury. However, as this case study demonstrates, investing in a help to clear mental clutter is an intelligent business move. It provides the headspace to identify priorities, validate plans, and unearth new opportunities.
You can try this on your own, but it’s challenging. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us. Let’s help you declutter your mind.
In today’s fast-paced world, senior leaders, such as CEOs, CFOs, and Board members, often find themselves overwhelmed by a deluge of thoughts, ideas, and responsibilities. They juggle countless tasks, manage corporate ambitions, and make strategic decisions. This constant mental barrage can clutter their minds.
This is where the art of unpacking their full brains comes into play. It helps them think more clearly, ultimately driving progress within their organizations.
At ADCL, we have the privilege of working with senior leaders across various sectors. Actually, we partner with them, helping them navigate the complex landscape of their responsibilities. Our purpose in this is simple. We assist them in downloading their thoughts, sifting through them, and identifying and prioritising the ideas that will propel their organisations forward, as sustainably as possible.
The Overloaded Mind of a Senior Leader
Generally, the role of a Board member is not for the faint-hearted. They have to oversee the big picture while simultaneously managing countless details. Their brains are like “mind palaces” of insights, experiences, and aspirations. However, without a structured approach, these treasures can remain buried beneath the clutter.
Picture the mind of a senior leader as a bustling library. In detail, the shelves are stacked high with books representing ideas, challenges, and opportunities. Without proper organization, this library can become chaotic, making it challenging to find the right thought at the right time. Our lead consultant’s background as a Chartered Librarian for decades is particularly useful in this context.
The Process of Unpacking
Our approach to helping senior leaders unpack their minds therefore pulls on these librarianship skills. We support a process of pulling information together, sifting through it and then helping our clients to prioritise the key actions to take, to reach the outcome they want. As with much of our client work, it has three simple stages:-
1. Downloading Thoughts:
The first step involves encouraging leaders to release the maelstrom of thoughts swirling around their minds. This can be done through one-on-one sessions or team workshops, depending on the context. We provide a safe and structured environment where they can articulate their ideas, concerns, and aspirations without judgment.
During this phase, leaders are encouraged to think about everything that occupies their mental space. What keeps them up at night? Which opportunities excite them the most? What challenges are they facing? By allowing them to articulate these thoughts, we help bring clarity to the chaos.
2. Sifting Through the Chaos:
Once the thoughts are out in the open, the real work begins. We assist our clients to categorise and organise their thoughts into distinct areas or themes. In fact, this process is crucial. That is because it helps identify common threads and connections between seemingly disparate ideas.
By sifting through the chaos, our clients can “press pause” and put a stop to the noise. This clarity ensures they gain a better understanding of the issues at hand and can prioritise what truly matters. They can start to identify which ideas have the potential to drive significant progress and which may need to be parked. Importantly, they will also be encouraged to let go of pipe dreams and ambitions that only they hold dear. This often forms a surprisingly large proportion of the noise.
3. Identifying and Prioritizing:
Since they now have a clearer picture of their thoughts, leaders can now identify and prioritise the ideas that align with their strategic objectives. This step involves a critical examination of each idea’s potential impact, feasibility. Next our clients review their alignment with the organisation’s mission and values. This also offers a useful insight into any misalignment at Board level between its members, which is something we will also help our clients to address.
By focusing on a select few high-impact ideas, leaders can direct their energy and resources more effectively. This streamlined approach enables them to make informed decisions and take purposeful action.
Think more clearly
The journey from a cluttered mind to a clear and focused one is transformative. When senior leaders can see the path forward with greater clarity, they become more effective in their roles. They can communicate their vision more convincingly, inspire their teams more profoundly, and navigate challenges more adeptly.
Moreover, this process of unpacking the mind isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing practice. As the business landscape evolves and new challenges arise, leaders can return to this process to adapt and refine their strategies. This simple system is all part of the “Diagnose” section of our 3-part consultancy approach. In addition, we always make sure we leave behind these skills in our clients’ organisations.
The value of One-on-One and Team workshops
Although our approach to helping senior leaders unpack their minds has a system, every client’s project is different. Of course, this necessitates a flexible service. In fact, it results in a totally tailored service. We offer both one-on-one sessions and team workshops to cater to different needs and preferences.
One-on-One Sessions: These sessions provide a personalized and confidential space for leaders to explore their thoughts and emotions deeply. It’s an opportunity for introspection and self-discovery.
Team Workshops: In a team setting, leaders can collaborate, share insights, and gain a broader perspective. Team workshops foster a culture of open communication and alignment, enabling organizations to move forward cohesively.
In the ever-evolving world of leadership, senior leaders benefit from a structured approach to manage the complexity of their roles effectively. Unpacking their minds, sifting through their thoughts, and identifying and prioritizing ideas is a transformative process that leads to clarity, focus, and progress.
At ADCL, we are dedicated to partnering with senior leaders on this journey. Our goal is to help them unlock their full potential, lead with purpose, and drive their organisations toward success. By assisting leaders to think more clearly, we empower them to make informed decisions. This then helps them to inspire their teams. And this ultimately enables them to leave a lasting legacy in their sectors.
How to think more clearly
If you’re a senior leader seeking clarity, focus and a meaningful impact, please message us or contact us via our website. Let’s get started on the clarity and headspace you crave.
In a previous blog I wrote about how my company was changing. Well, here’s the promised evolution update.
And it is only a small update, not the finished report. Changing a small company can be fast, when you have staff or use third parties. Changing a small company when you are a solopreneur is a much, much slower process. It is slow for a lot of reasons. In truth, a main reason is lack of time to give the change the headspace it has really needed. It’s also slow because of the options that are open to me. In fact, there is a wealth of options for the future direction of my company. There are actually so many it has been hard to pin down my choices.
However, another reason it has been slow, and more painful than I had bargained-for, is that I am looking to change something that has served me well for seven years. It has been a part of me and, of course, I have been pretty much all of it. That’s always the way with owner-managed businesses which feature the owner as the service lead.
So, what is this evolution update?
I have refocused my core offer. Specifically, I received some helpful feedback about my website. “What do you DO, Astrid?”. When you have taken an age doing and redoing your website, that’s a tough question to be asked. As a result, I looked yet again at the website, and at how I help my clients. By talking it through with people close to me, I have been able to focus down what I do. More than that, I have been able to articulate it a bit more clearly (at least, I think I have – you will have to be the judge of my success or otherwise!). At least, I have been able to analyse what I do and simplify it into clear products and stages.
I told you it was small!
As a matter of fact, it’s really only the website that has changed. Nevertheless, I am reporting back, as my accountability task. The actual services I offer remain the same. The important difference (I hope) is that the emphasis is no longer on a menu of services, but on the problem I am seeking to solve with those services.
Oddly, for a coach, this has been quite hard. It has been hard, because I am in the moment with the clients. It is only after I have helped them achieve the solution they want, that I reflect back and analyse in detail, HOW I did what I did. So, to unpick this and understand it “up front”, has been a challenge. A challenge, however, that I have enjoyed. It hasn’t been hard in any painful sense. It has simply been difficult because it has been new. As with all new things, it is taking a while for it to become comfortable.
And that is where I am right now – wearing in a new way of thinking about my company and my delivery. A bit like new shoes, but without the blisters!
And what will the next evolution update entail?
In truth, I have no idea – yet. I will let this new, “productised”, approach to my company sit and settle for a while. It may not make a blind bit of difference (although I really hope that is not the case!). I am a very straightforward consultant, as my testimonials make clear time and again. That is why I have adopted a straightforward approach to my services – there’s the simplified three-step process for consultancy, and a range of services which are now for sale directly. We shall see where this takes my company. And you can be sure I will report back, when I know more.
If you are interested in finding out more about the services, please go to the “How we help you” tab in the menu above, and hopefully it will all be clear. Hopefully, you will also feel you understand the value of how I could help your organisation. You might even buy something!
If you are a young professional in a field such as law, accounting or surveying, you might think that your technical skills and expertise are enough to advance your career. However, the truth is that you also need leadership skills to succeed in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous market. This is what I call the “career development gap”.
I would argue that leadership skills are not just for senior executives or managers. In fact, I would argue that leadership skills are for anyone who wants to make a positive impact. By influencing others, and driving strategic plans through to delivery in your organization, you’re demonstrating leadership. Leadership skills include communicative, interpretive, affective, and perceptual skills. These enable you to enjoy effective, proactive and collaborative relationships with your peers, clients, and stakeholders.
Leadership research tells us …
Actually, according to research by the Center for Contemporary Leadership , leadership development enables organisations to do the following four things that drive sustained success:
- Improve bottom-line financial performance.
- Attract and retain talent.
- Drive strategy execution.
- Increase success in navigating change.
That’s great, you may be thinking, BUT … what if your organization does not have an in-house leadership development programme? Or if your boss does not see the value of investing in your personal and professional growth?
That’s where Future Leaders Breakfast® networking comes in. Future Leaders Breakfast® networking (FLB®) is a unique opportunity for young professionals like you to network with other like-minded individuals over an informal breakfast.
So far, so standard, you may be thinking. What’s the USP?
What makes FLB® unique is that they focus on supporting you to grow your career. Most networking requires you to know some sports trivia or be prepared to discuss yet another aspect of the weather. That’s not the FLB® way. With us, you get to participate in themed discussions that feature key leadership topics. Through your networking conversations, you will also learn and practice leadership skills such as time management, giving feedback, people reading, and handling your inner critic. If truth be told, these are the skills that help you fill the career development gap faster than exams and post-nominal letters.
Future Leaders Breakfast® networking is not just another networking event. It is a fun and business-focused set of events that will help you grow as a leader and as a person. You will gain insights from experts and peers, share best practices and challenges, and build relationships that will last beyond the breakfast table.
Not only this, but FLB® networking is beneficial for your boss and your organization. By sending you to this event, they will show that they care about your development and well-being. They will also benefit from having a more confident, competent, and connected employee who can contribute to the organisation’s goals and vision. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
So what are you waiting for? Here’s your chance to do something about that career development gap you’re facing. Join Future Leaders Breakfast® networking today and discover the benefits of leadership development for yourself and your career.
Your next opportunity is 13 June for FLB® Portsmouth (in collaboration with University of Portsmouth and Blake Morgan). Please book your ticket and come to find out about the FLB® idea, leadership … and yourself. You’ll be so pleased you did.
Tonight I had a chance exchange on social media DMs. Someone (a medical professional, saving lives in our amazing NHS every day) was “discounting”. By this I mean they were deflecting gratitude and praise, reflecting it back on me … but I suspect it’s a common habit and they reflect and deflect as a default setting. They said I was being kind when I expressed gratitude for their efforts with keeping people healthy. That phrase didn’t sit right with me.
Was it “being kind” … or is it doing what I am here to do? ot purely being a coach, or a leadership consultant, but by being a decent human, surely? Actually, all I was doing was telling the truth.
“Discounting” is such a scourge. Self-deprecatory humour is part of the British psyche – we don’t like to blow our own trumpet and are encouraged to look down on those who do. And yet, we are also encouraged to sell our services as a small business. When you ARE that business and those services, it means you have to sell yourself ever day.
In my experience, when people show leadership, we reward and seek to undermine them in equal measure. That is particularly true, when that is in public in the social media circus, showing leadership means the same as putting your head above the proverbial parapet. By doing so, anyone is seen as fair game, open to justified vitriol.
What happened to “being kind”?
“Being kind” is sometimes seen as code for being mealymouthed, going through the motions of being insincerely generous. If not that, then it can be code for “I appreciate you mean well but I can’t be seen to agree with your words”. I suspect this was the case tonight. Being on social media can mean people have a target on their backs for having the temerity to have an opinion. “Keyboard warriors” are everywhere online these days.
Just imagine having to watch your every word and action and emoji, for fear of the likely criticism. I remember that, having been a bullying victim for years at secondary school. It’s not fun.
What should a coach do?
What should a coach do, in this sort of situation? We are taught to let the client lead, but when someone is not a client (and you’re not keen to look like you’re selling AT anyone … that takes us right back to the 3rd paragraph above – it’s not a good luck) what do we do?
Do we offer suggestions, in the hope they won’t be taken as unsolicited advice?
Do we offer supportive words, but really all we’re offering is platitudes?
Or do we offer an observation, which may help a bit of reflection but which doesn’t amount to an open bit of “work”? I went for the last option.
Coaching isn’t “kindness”
This is important – coaching isn’t about kindness. It’s about being supportive, listening to your coachee and helping them to find the answers they seek, through effective questioning and challenge. Obviously, we don’t seek to be UNkind, but it’s not about the bland unquestioning generosity of spirit that “kind” implies. Perhaps that is where the issue lies, for me. I am inferring a meaning that the other person in the DMs may not have meant. They may have meant “unconditionally positive”, or “supportive” or even “nurturing”. However, my professional discipline took over and I confirmed I was not “being kind” but I was saying it how I saw it. And that’s about – and on – me.
Coaching should never be about the coach. Although I am not in a coaching relationship with the other person in the DMs, and it is unlikely I will be, there is still something wrong with my approach. I am inferring, I am projecting my own meaning onto theirs. Unintentionally, I am discounting too, aren’t I?
“Physician, heal thyself”
There’s lots of fodder for reflection in this small exchange. Indeed, that is what I will be doing tonight – reflecting. I will let their words sit with me. I will reflect on their impact and reflect on what that is about for me. And then I will “allow it” as my daughter says so often – I will go along with the expressed gratitude and appreciate that for what it was, a genuine expression of gratitude, with no angle.
So the next time someone says you’re “being kind”, please don’t put an imagined and unwelcome “just” before it. Accept the gratitude and positivity. And keep being kind. Always. It’s the best medicine for a lot of ills.
If this blog triggers some thoughts for you, and you’d like to discuss them, please do get in touch. I would love to discuss your thoughts and what it all means for your leadership journey.