“I know there are challenges in how my team is working, but at this time of year our priority is on delivering on our commitments, and just getting through. I do want to address the issues within the team, but it will have to be later in the year, when we have a bit of breathing space”
This is a version of an often heard comment from senior leaders and from a number of perspectives it is a completely understandable and realistic frustration.
The pressures at this time of year are significant:
- hit the final revenue and cost targets (or prepare to explain why not)
- wrap-up year-end financials
- complete the annual performance feedback process
- get ready for the next financial year – “we need to finalise those individual KPIs”
- and somehow think about what will happen next year to impact the business – which we don’t know about yet!
However, the risk is that we immerse ourselves so much in current urgent action, we miss a real opportunity.
We know that great sportspeople have the ability to simultaneously play the game and observe the patterns of play that emerge during the actual game.
Heifetz and Linsky referenced this as the process of moving oneself from the action and asking, “what’s really going on here?” . They subsequently coined the phrase – “getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony” as a crucial leadership skill (‘A Survival Guide for Leaders’ June 2002 HBR).
The benefit is that gaining the perspective from the balcony, whilst feeling like it slows the process down, actually speeds up the final outcome – and ultimately delivers a more sustainable solution.
The amount of deliverables leadership teams have on their plates over the next 8 to 12 weeks can be quite daunting. When stakes are high there and time is tight, the potential for confusion, conflict and sub-optimal outcomes is very real.
The need for efficient, effective and real dialogue is essential to “get through this period” and start 2019-2020 in the best possible way. It is exactly the right time to be focussed on both what your team is doing and how they are doing it – the dancefloor and the balcony.
Having worked with leadership teams across a range of industries, our experience suggests that the most impactful insights into how teams and leaders operate are supported when they are deeply engaged in their roles.
Don’t get me wrong, offsites, immersion experiences, leadership development programs, industry conferences and professional courses are all extremely powerful tools to increase effectiveness across your business. However, paradoxically the most powerful performance enhancing action that you can take is to use this current period of strain and excitement to critically evaluate and then strengthen the performance of your leadership team.
At the OMC Group, we have designed and facilitated integrated leadership development, team effectiveness and business performance programs that leverage the current operating environment to deliver impactful and enhancing experiences and results.
One of the approaches that we take with leadership teams is to map out their core deliverables over a specific period of times, ie.year end / start of financial year. We then identify and confirm key moments and topics where it is essential that the team is aligned. In some instances we have suggested a minor adjustment to the “normal” way of working for the leadership team to better manage the crucial conversations that need to occur in the interim. We also suggest establishing a baseline for individual and team effectiveness, then using this common frame of reference to provide clarity, increase confidence, decreases confusion and maximises efficiency.
In short, we believe that right now is one of the best times to focus on you and your team, both what you do and how you do it.
At OMC Group we can help you both on the dance floor and on the balcony – as what you do today, is instrumental in what happens tomorrow.