Archive for May, 2012

Personal and Group Choice: 3 Ways to Change Conversations and Improve Relationships

I recently had the privilege of facilitating a team-building offsite for a team that had, for the most part, worked together for a long time yet had never been given the time to explore how to work more effectively together.  Like a family that has lived together for years and gets entrenched in bad habits, they were treating each other and themselves in less-than-positive ways, burying hurts and pretending to be okay when, really, they weren’t.

The organization’s objective in bringing me in was to broaden and deepen the scope of work that the team performed, so some things needed to change.

And quickly.

Over two 1/2-day sessions (conducted a week apart), we explored different working styles and how we, as humans, often jump to conclusions and embrace our personal assumptions, sometimes without sufficient data. We learned and tested a model that would give the team members language and motivation to share more responsibility, define accountabilities, and become more self-empowered. The team practiced new methods of communicating, coming up with ways to help and support each other, and began to realize that making a choice about changing the conversation can change the outcome of the relationship.

It’s a simple beginning to a new way of being.

Here are three ways that the team members’ choices began to change the relationships across the team. These choices are important for any team and its members:

  • Choose what you see. We’re all familiar with Rorschach images, those inkblots that everyone views differently. By choosing what you see, you’re acknowledging that what you see may not be what someone else sees, that their interpretation may be different than yours, yet equally valid. Covey says, “Seek first to understand; then seek to be understood.” By choosing to view a situation from another’s point of view, there just may be an even better outcome all around.
  • Choose who shows up. There were moments in the offsite when the conversation took on a negative tone, focusing how other parts of the company were standing in the way of the team meeting its goals. But we all know that there will always be issues or roadblocks. We can show up as a victim or as a creator. By choosing to show up as creator, to declare what you want rather than what you can’t have or do, you put yourself—and the team—in a position to think creatively. The creator standpoint says that you “can do” rather than that you “can’t do.” Your peers, then, can contribute by creating a new way with you.
  • Choose to collaborate. When an issue is important to address and the relationship is important to nurture, choose to work together to create a mutually beneficial outcome. Both sides may need to bend a bit to accommodate the other’s needs or wishes. By entering into a conversation space with an intention of good will and collaboration, you and your teammates will move towards building a more solid working relationship.

These choices—and they are choices—are made by each individual and by the group as a whole. And, once made, they have tremendous impact, again, on each individual and on the group as a whole.

What choices do you and your teams make each day?

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Sharing Leadership: 3 Ways to Learn From Each Other

Do you remember Kindergarten?  It’s when we learned to share. Sometimes the idea went against our baser instincts–especially when there were only two toy trucks and four kids wanted to play with them. Still, our teachers knew that sharing was important and we, slowly but surely, recognized at some deeper level that we would benefit through these simple bits of cooperation. We shared the rules of games, our emerging ideas of the world, what we wanted to be when we grew up. Sometimes we’d hand our best friend the towel we were using as a cape just to see if they, too, could fly.

Then we left the “K” and proceeded on the “through 8″ part of our elementary education. For a while sharing was still important, but not so much as it had been before.  Now, a lot of the things we wanted to share were things we weren’t allowed to anymore. We had to work alone, think alone, take tests alone. What used to be sharing they now called “cheating.”

And on it went, through middle school and high school where they tested how much we–as individuals–knew. Despite the occasional joint venture, knowledge became a solitary act.  And then came college, where we were not only tested on what we knew, but on what we knew relative to what others didn’t know–and they called it “the curve.” Now it wasn’t just that there was little advantage in sharing with others; in college they promote an actual disadvantage.

And then we got jobs, and the companies who hired us wanted us to share again, to cooperate, to work closely together for everyone’s (and the company’s) mutual benefit.

Many don’t realize how hard that can be, don’t remember that sharing has been largely bred out of us before we finally hit the workforce.

Why all this preface about sharing?  Because even we, as professionals in this industry, sometimes forget how much we can learn from each other by sharing what we know, what we discover. Without question, the people we interact with are some of the most cooperative and sharing we’ve ever met, but we can all always do more.

Here are three things that we at Charney Coaching & Consulting are committed to sharing with our friends in the HR, Executive Coaching, and Leadership industries:

  • Our thoughts and ideas. We’re always looking for new ways to approach leadership development and executive coaching. We’ve explored ways to analyze levels of behavior, the kinds of exchanges that happen in what we call “the conversation space,” and new techniques for building trust. As we develop these–and test them with clients–we’ll tell you about them here on our blog and through the groups we participate in on Linked In.
  • What’s happening out there. There are–quite literally–thousands of professionals with millions of ideas. There’s no way everyone can keep track of them all.  However, using a new platform called Scoop.It, we’ve begun to aggregate and link to dozens of very interesting articles and blogs, all reviewed and curated by us, and now available as the re-launched version of The Way We Lead.
  • The conversations we have with others. Each Wednesday, starting next week. we will begin a conversation on our Facebook page and invite others to respond. Some weeks it will be a question, other weeks a link to something we find provocative or interesting. Whatever it is, it will always challenge our thinking.

With these new initiatives we hope to participate in–and contribute to–the sharing of knowledge about what we do.  We hope you will come and see what we have to say and–importantly–tell us what you have to say.

Thanks.  We look forward to our conversations.

Renee and Michael