10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.
“Topic 1 – Understanding your place in the team.”
transcript written by Wayne Brown
Welcome back… Hopefully, you’ve watched the intro video, read the blog, or listened to the podcast for this new series and have a general understanding of the 10 topics we are now starting to work through.
The overall program is called “Constant Change requires Leaders to Excel in the Basics and in this video, we cover the first of those basics, “Understanding your place in the team.”
As with all of our modules, we provide you three ways to access this content. In addition to the podcast, which you’re able to download, the full transcript (complete with pictures and additional links) can be found through our Coaches blog section of our website “amentorscouch.com.” or you can watch the original video on our YouTube channel “Mentors Rant.” Three ways to better lock in the knowledge.
So let’s get started with topic 1.
In our role as a leader, we are surrounded by key stakeholder groups.
At home with family members and the broader community or social networks – i.e., friends, church, clubs, etc. as well as with our working environment – be it from our team or peers, our customers, our boss or even more senior management, the company itself and even our suppliers.
People or organizations that with varying expectations and needs from us and our limited capacity are limited by time, resources, competence and so on.
Perhaps these limitations are known by some stakeholders, but this typically only heightens their concerns about our ability or willingness to satisfy those expectations.
It helps, therefore, that you as the leader are able to realize your shortcomings in order to communicate with and manage these stakeholders successfully.
A useful starting point in managing stakeholders is incorporating a method referred to as the “Circle of Influence.” This tool enables us to sort and cluster our stakeholders, thereby making sense of the chaos.
We can develop strategies and actions necessary to manage or support these groups or individuals.
It’s a particularly useful approach for less experienced leaders who feel overwhelmed by the events and the volume of demand.
Once clustered, we review each group to determine if they are supporters or perhaps detractors. This is powerful knowledge that we can utilize to determine the best strategy for working together successfully in the future.
Our aim should be to expand this Circle of Influence & encompass as many of those in the Circle of Concern as possible– particularly those “critical of us.”
We’ll include several links with the transcript notes for people interested in researching this stakeholder concept and tools.
Let’s now look closer at each of the stakeholder groups and touch on those important considerations.
There is no right or wrong order for presenting each stakeholder here. It’s definitely not my purpose to trigger heated debate about which of the groups or individuals are the more important – family versus work, customers versus team, management versus suppliers, and so forth – hopefully, if you have performed the Circle of Influence exercise, you will have assessed how this works for you.
And without wanting to alienate anyone, I’m starting with two of my key groups, “Teams and Customers,” as they impact all leaders and mostly from within our inner circle.
Plus, they generally have very real and immediate expectations or needs.
Each group can be treated as equal in this regard to avoid the chicken and egg question – there’s currently good social media discussion fueling this debate without my added involvement.
The “team” is critical in that collectively, they determine your business`es success.
Therefore they need your full commitment through professional leadership and supporting, encouraging, coaching and developing them.
The 1+1 equals more than 2 principle, which definitely applies here.
Create the right environment and enable each team member to perform consistently at their peak, and the business becomes unstoppable.
Therefore, no real surprise is that in the following videos in this series, we place heavy emphasis on specifics for developing this key stakeholder group.
Similarly, with the other group, understand your customer’s needs and drive your business processes, systems, and team actions towards true focused customer centricity and success become sustainable & profitable.
There’s a wealth of evidence from successful companies to reinforce this message AND any number of ways to move in this direction, but it starts within and the commitment to realize it.
Check out the link on our site to the “Net Promoter Score” – this is a very in-depth analysis of how you and your business can determine if your customers are promoters or detractors. It’s well worth the investment of your time to review
Moving now to the topic of work-life balance, or perhaps more specifically, work-family balance.
Today, most leaders understand this concept and requirement, but we are not always so good at implementing it.
We know it’s critical to ensure that the family needs are addressed. All the stakeholder groups this one sticks with us through the toughest of times, encouraging, supporting, and keeping the home front together while we are often away, traveling, entertaining, or working long days.
Some cultures, countries, and companies seem to have found the right mix while others not. At the end of the day, you need to determine the right balance – and this does not only apply to you but also to your team.
Please give your team members an equal opportunity to strike this harmony.
Check out the link to the Jeff Bezos interview speaking about “Work-Life Harmony”. He provides an interesting take on this topic..
On the other side of the spectrum, perhaps (depending on their philosophy) is your immediate boss.
As one of the key stakeholders for you and your team, this person (or persons as is the case in many matrix organizations today), plays a major part in the success of your career through their role modeling, support, coaching, and guidance.
Most likely, they were influential in you being in the role you are in today, so it makes a lot of sense that you establish the ground rules early with this stakeholder –
- What are they expecting
- How would they prefer to receive communication
- At what frequency?
- Are there any do’s and don’ts?
One of the worst outcomes we see is from the leader who chooses to ignore this step.
They believe that their boss will see their level of commitment, effort, and determination through their actions (which might be true). Still, in the end, they fail because they didn’t establish that clarity, connection, and trust through rigorous dialogue first.
So, the opportunity for you now is to go knock on your boss’s door and set up a one-on-one chat – it’s never too late.
Onto our 3rd grouping of stakeholders – Peers and Suppliers, an interesting duo.
We clustered them on the same portion of this video intentionally because there are many common dynamics which play out here through you as the leader and your interaction with them.
And with this duo, we want you to do a little experiment.
For this experiment, we could just as easily have chosen the final coupling of our stakeholder groups – that is, the Company and Social Networks, given your interaction frequency is normally not as regular as it is with the first 2 groupings covered.
Less familiarity means the results will be less predictable and, therefore, easier to determine.
Many studies maintain that verbal, non-verbal, and emotional actions become “contagious.”
We’ve attached a link to a very interesting video on this subject from a Harvard researcher, …. so please take the time to watch it.
In short, the studies suggest that your body language, the questions you ask, and the emotions you express during that communication have a tremendous impact on how others react and interact with you.
For me, this strikes an accord, as my own experience is that we react to someone based on how we perceive them.
Therefore, we would like you to try the following yourself and monitor your peers’ and your suppliers’ reactions.
The first test is through body language using your hands and face to support your expression
- . When greeting someone, ensure that your hands are visible and open at all times and use hand gestures while speaking.
- Also, make sure you are smiling authentically (watch the video to understand that in greater detail).
Now try the reverse with a different colleague – hide the hands and don’t smile.
Which of the two methods created the warmest and most charming atmosphere? How was the conversation and body language of your colleague?
For the second experiment, repeat the non-verbal gestures
- visible, open hands, and warm, friendly smile.
but this time, choose your conversation questions more carefully and do this twice,
- the 1st time using topics related to enjoyable events or situations – “do you planned any vacations?”
- the 2nd time using mundane questions tends to be more work-related – such as “been busy lately?”
Gauge the difference in response. We’re pretty sure the results will be quite clear. Reinforces our series opening comments about the importance of being an effective communicator, doesn’t it?
And now to our final 2 stakeholder groups – those that are not directly related to me as a leader but often have a significant impact – and sometimes when we least expect it.
They typically sit across our Circles of Influence and Concern.
Let’s start with the Company. This relates to those people – perhaps in our regions or HQ’s, most often they are located in a different city and maybe even another country.
Identifying and understanding how and why your role may impact them or appear on their radar enables you to maintain an awareness and be conscious of any issues which might trigger that unexpected or unforeseen reaction.
It’s also great in helping you identify how you can contribute to the company’s success by considering and seeing the bigger and broader picture.
If you struggle to identify those persons or determine which actions might have an impact, we suggest that you seek guidance from your immediate boss.
Most likely, they will be happy to help you work through this as there’s a good chance that the impact will also have some consequence for them.
As stated at the very beginning, we didn’t group the stakeholders in order of priority.
Therefore, this final stakeholder – our social network, should be seen as no less important than any others.
In fact, many times in my career, the broader community has had a tremendous influence on supporting and assisting my career.
Here’s something you could do your own research on – Have you ever heard of the term “6 degrees of separation?”
Since it was first introduced, many attempts to test and prove its viability without ever being proven emphatically.
More recently, however, through the explosion of online social media, a new dynamic has evolved.
This dynamic supported by machine learning technology is starting to illustrate that the size of your network is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a few random acquaintances.
And that their impact on you is often much higher than the impact through your friends.
We’ve included a couple of links in case you want to research a little deeper yourself.
However, it does makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
Should I have accepted the “friend request” from that stranger the other day? What opportunity did I just miss out on as a result?
And before closing, let’s take a moment to reflect one last time at our stakeholder groups – can you identify the one stakeholder we haven’t covered thus far – if any of you guessed “our future robotic partners,” then you are very in tune with our thinking.
It is a reality that today and to a much larger extent very soon, we will have to work more closely with robotics utilizing the latest AI development and driving our IoT world.
How and in exactly what capacity is becoming gradually clearer. It is certain already that this will be a factor in our lifetimes and perhaps even within the coming few years.
Taking time to think through the connections we are making today with machines such as Siri, Alexa, household appliances and security systems, autonomous cars, and any multitude of technologies soon, and you should start to understand the point I’m making – we are in our infancy in this field. Still, the coming explosion of interconnectedness through IoT and convergence of all technologies means our interaction and reliance on robots is almost guaranteed.
So, this provides a very brief insight into our 9 stakeholder groups.
Each group is individually important, and collectively, they are crucial to your performance and career progression.
Please find some time to review the additional links on our site amentorscouch.com and read through the transcript blog again for greater learnings.
As we progress into the next 5-6 topics, we turn most of our attention towards the “TEAM” stakeholder group.
The reason why is simple. If you can lock in these core learnings on these basic skills with your team and empower them by applying the knowledge and methods we’ll cover, then your foundation for success is laid and solid.
This concludes the first of our topics called “Understanding your place in the team.” In this series, “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics,” we will present 10 topics.
The next topic covers “Motivating your future team.” We look forward to having you join us again.
Remember, you can also watch this video series or topic by topic on our channel Mentors Rant. We aim to release our trio on each topic (i.e., a video, podcast, and blog) every two weeks.
Looking forward to chatting again shortly.