Kids these days

A friend of mine is a teacher in America. She’s been teaching a long time. As she was thinking about the start of the new year she posted this…

The climate of education has changed a lot since I started teaching sixteen years ago, but do you know what hasn’t changed? Kids. Despite what some will tell you, “kids these days”, at their core, are the same as they have always been: they are funny, they are figuring things out, they want to please, and they desperately want to know that someone sees them.

I’ll say a bit of that again.

They are figuring things out, they want to please, and they desperately want to know that someone sees them.

I strikes me that this applies to just about everyone I know.

Sure. You could probably name a couple of people who don’t “want to please” anyone at all and maybe even revel in being awkward. But I’d bet that they are figuring things out (really) and are desperate to know that someone sees them.

Most people get a lift when they feel noticed for doing things well.

Keep an eye on your colleagues. Catch them doing something right. Thank them for it.

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Task, team, individuals

John Adair. A proper academic thinker and leader on leadership. He proposed a model usually called “action centred leadership” that starts with three things that leaders have to pay attention to.

adair-1

Following on from my post about People vs Process it is all too easy to focus energy and attention on “achieving the task” and neglect “building the team” and “growing the individuals”.

“Get it done, get it done, you’re really close to the deadline, are you going to make it, we have to meet the target, have you started that other thing yet…” Achieve the task. Achieve the task. Achieve the task.

Build the team….

“Let’s get together for ten minutes and talk about how things are going. I don’t want to discuss the timeline or workflow or deadlines or the project itself. I just want to talk about how we’re working. Are we communicating well enough? Is everyone clear what they’re doing and where we’re up to? Are we getting all the points of view on the table?”

Grow the individuals…

“How are you doing? You look a little stressed. What’s happening? Have you got what you need to get done what you’ve been tasked with? Do you just need a break? How would you like to lead the stakeholder meeting on Thursday? I think you’re ready… I can get someone else to handle that task you’re on now so you can prepare…”

As ever on this blog about leading from wherever you are, this all applies wherever you are in the team.

If you’re not in charge… challenge and encourage everyone (including your boss) to be working in all three circles. Suggest ways for the team to work better. Reach out to individuals and lift them up.

If you’re in charge… challenge and encourage everyone (including yourself) to be working in all three circles!

People vs Process

How do you see your organisation?

Is it a group of people trying to achieve a common aim?

Or a set of processes, policies and structures designed to facilitate smooth working and success?

Obviously it’s both. But where do you put your energy? Your thinking? Your leadership?

Better processes? Or more fulfilled people?

Again… I would hope it’s both. And often the intent is: “better processes will create space and time for the people and lead to more fulfilment”. Which can work. 

But be careful. If you’re always talking about the processes, if you always tackle difficulties and change and opportunities from the process side, the people will notice. Without thinking about it. And they’ll subconsciously draw the obvious conclusion.

That you care more about the processes than you do about them. 

The elephant and the rider

We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We sift the evidence, weigh the pros and cons, and take decisions based on clear understanding of the facts.

Except we don’t.

In his book the Righteous Mind, psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt explains that our thought process works like a rider sitting on an elephant. The rider is the rational, thoughtful mind. The elephant is the instinctive, immediately-reactive subconscious.

When faced with a new situation, or a decision to make, in the blink of an eye the elephant decides whether to turn left or right. Then the rational rider looks for information that supports the elephant’s choice. And rejects anything that implies the elephant was wrong.

The rider can’t change the elephant’s direction. Once the elephant has turned, the path is set in stone for a while.

noelle-elephant-rider

This has huge implications for communication, change and how we influence one another.

If you want to set or shift someone’s mindset about something, you have to speak to the elephant first. Set up a situation that will provoke an emotional response in the direction you want.

If someone’s elephant has turned left, it won’t matter how cleverly you craft your memo to the rider explaining that they should have gone the other way. It’s already too late.

Thanks to Kristin Noelle from www.sacred-loom.com for letting me use her wonderful image.