How To Lead A Team During A Strategy Change
Despite our best efforts as leaders, strategies need to be adjusted or scrapped all together at times. This could be from law changes, market shifts, ownership changes, or customer preferences, to name a few. It’s a big job just to have team alignment for ongoing efforts but when strategy shifts, keeping everyone focused on priorities is a lot more difficult.
I am sure you’ve noticed how often and how large the strategic shifts are. The acceleration is not contained any demographic, industry, or any other boundary that we can draw. So this situation is happening more often and in a larger degree. So this week’s series is geared toward methods of gaining more knowledge so when you do need to make strategy changes, you can do so more quickly and put your focus on keeping your team focused and cohesive.
Much has been written about the yang of business. The Art Of War, is an oft quoted book for business leaders and managers. However, we tend to gloss over the yin elements of change in business because the Western mindset tends to see yin as weak and a failure. Our interest isn’t so much a philosophical one as it is a practical one about obtaining more, better and quicker access to information that helps us make a better strategy. Why? Because most of our time as leaders is spent mobilizing our vision and the strategy through our teams. The sooner we get back to that part of our roles, the more effective our endeavors will be.
So we start this week with a free foundation practice to help you get in touch with the yin aspects of strategy change, especially about accessing information that usually is not available to you with a purely aggressive, yang mindset.
Download your free foundation practice for the week, by clicking here. Then watch the video which will help you implement the practice effectively with 3 concepts:
- Defense does not equal protection
- Protection does not equal strength
- Metaphor: The yin of a valley
From the vantage point of starting off with your free foundation practice, you’ll be in a good position to take in the rest of this series. So let’s get keep going.
Now with your foundation practice going, you’re ready to move a bit further. Now we can start considering the tactical steps of reformulating your strategy while keeping your team moving with you, despite a shifting landscape. Your need and ability to speed up the dynamic pieces of your strategy will come alongside the way to communicate them to your team so they can keep up.
This is no small feat and is hardly taught or discussed as far as I can tell. Most leaders come by this information through experience which is great. We’re aiming for you to rapidly and safely gain this hard won experience by diving in with some more insightful observation and small scale experiments.
In today’s video we work with 3 ideas:
- Move with (not against) what’s happening
- Context bounds as information
- Fear breeds defense
Wrapping all of this together helps you get curious as a way to be a better leader. It isn’t useful to be the rock (yang) in all leadership situations and now we move into the deep dive…
Hopefully now you have some notion of another way to deal with a shifting environment and preserving the essence of you what you want to accomplish. Realizing when to let go of the specifics and flow with the evolving dynamics in the world is always a tough one to judge and do so accurately.
To really gain traction in, what is likely a completely different leadership dimension, we need to work with 3 deep ideas.
Projection Does Not Help
Let’s make sure we’re clearly talking about the same thing when we talk about projection. This is the behavior of seeing something in the world we do not like when it is actually connected to something we do not like about ourselves. Hang on, it isn’t necessary to get “touchy-feely” or go deep into psychology.
What you want to pick up on is when you are holding others accountable for things they do not control. This usually becomes obscured when time pressure and stress start to weigh on us for a result. If this result is not really likely or feasible any longer and we feel compelled to persist, we might be projecting our fears and anxieties on our teams.
Discharging responsibility by driving our teams harder might be necessary. However, being aware that we may be placing responsibility outside of ourselves and onto others is really important.
Watch out here. It is quite easy to justify a tough stance and doubling down as consistency and inertia are powerful motivators. Fear of failure is also powerful but usually just below the surface. So being driven and driving a team can be a great trait, but it has limits. And when you push harder and you notice emotions are escalating in you or your team, check and see if you’re projecting.
What’s Being Mirrored To You?
The close cousin to projection is mirroring. As a leader, people mirror you often, even if you feel you are dragging your team kicking and screaming often. By mirroring, we’re talking about non-verbal communication and behaviors that we exhibit and others respond by trying to copy what you’re doing. This is a major social feature for humans and builds rapport. I am sure you have heard endless information about mirroring and interviewer or client with their body motions as a way to build rapport quickly.
This phenomenon happens at conscious, subconscious and unconscious levels of your awareness. What we’re interested is when someone mirrors back to us something we are exhibiting from our subconscious or unconscious behaviors. In particular, we’re looking for when others give hard pushback or fold uncharacteristically. These extremes, when observed in others are likely mirroring back some signal we’re sending.
This is important to take note because if we are projecting outside of our awareness, we may see it mirrored in others. When that happens we get clues into what we are doing to undermine our own strategic change. This is a completely yin move that doesn’t negate any of your current leadership style, no matter how aggressive and yang it might be.
Awareness Of Your Triggers = Skill & Power
So now you’re taking responsibility for loss of alignment, making a strategic shift with heavy input from your environment and even looking for subtle things that inform and contribute to adjusting the situation. That amount of yin action is pretty extensive. If you can take this another step, you will master some whole new domains of leadership for yourself, and that is seeing what triggers you in your environment in an outward way automatically.
Yin and yang leadership styles are equal and advanced leaders flow between them. You want to be aware enough to choose the appropriate style. Triggers kick us into an autopilot that can be helpful because they happen seamlessly. The more conscious you are of them however, you are slowed down so very little for the extremely important aspect of cognitive choice. In fact, as a leader you accomplish things through others. So making good, intelligent choices coupled with the ability to effectively communicate are both so key. Both are also highly dependent on clear thinking so you can optimize both when they are needed.
Yin Leadership As Practice Field
This type of thinking is not exclusively the best. And now you hopefully have some fresh thinking in making changes. If these ideas seem intriguing and you are ready to add this type of dimension to your leadership style, I invite you to consider starting a coaching program. It’s pretty straightforward; click this link to get started. You enroll in a program and select your desired payment method. All programs come with the first 30 days risk free and at no charge. This allows you to make sure your program fits you.
Perhaps you have tried keeping up with a leader who presses hard down a difficult path. Maybe as you follow them against near impossible odds you start to become daunted. And more likely, perhaps you don’t agree with the difficult of the direction or can’t understand why they are pushing everyone in what appears to be a failing endeavor.
Well, you may be correct and justified in taking pot shots at their crazy and hopeless approach. However, as stress and pressure increases, this kind of reaction is less helpful, even if helps you vent and cope with the situation.
So in this video we take 3 different tactics to help uncover what’s really going on to help both you and the leader realign and get back to accomplishing things:
- Probe boundaries
- Probe assumptions
- Explore their beliefs in what’s right
I also touch lightly in using the Ladder of Inference tool which can be a particularly helpful tool in these situations.
At first blush this seems crazy and a waste of time. And I am also assuming you have experience playing the role of devil’s advocate. The practice here goes way beyond merely punching holes in an idea or position to do a little testing. This practice has you work with advocating the exact opposite position as vigorously as you are driving what you want. In this practice space, it will open up a lot of actual information about your strategy as well as areas to build up your leadership capabilities that you’ve perhaps been blind to thus far. Download your free practice by clicking here for all the details, insights and structure you’ll need to add this to your leadership arsenal.
Download it now and give it your best effort for 2 weeks and I think you’ll be amazed at it’s usefulness to you.
All my best,
Russell Lindquist, Founder & Principal
Russell is a Certified Integral Professional Coach™. I help leaders and entrepreneurs break through plateaus, earn more respect and move on to their next level of success. 80% of my clients take on more responsibility with less stress, more success, and half of them get a promotion or earn more money within 6 months of completing their program. www.tessagen.com.