Saturday, April 19, 2014

Career Kaizen #5 - 5 Days of Leadership

Monday - Level 5 Leadership

Leaders help team members
solve their own problems.
Most agree leadership is important, but there are many definitions out there. Are you a leader? Do you have leadership in you? The ScrumMaster role is often described as a servant leader, so it's worth some focused time on it.

One of the classic business books is Good to Great. In the book, Jim Collins talks about Level 5 Leadership, the highest of all and a level few CEO's attain. There are good metaphors that describe that type of leader.

First, these leaders look out the window to assign credit, and look in the mirror to assign blame. Always try to deflect to the team when someone looks at the results and says "You've done a great job leading the team," especially if it's in a public situation, like a meeting. There are many ways to do this, for example, "It's not me. It's the team. Anyone could have done it if they had a team like this," or "Thank you, but really, the team is the one responsible. They have really put in a lot of time, effort and heart into this, " or even just point to some specific positive aspect of the team (perhaps from one of their retros), "The team really feels that _______ has been the key ingredient to the success we've had."

Second, these leaders want to make clock-builders, not be time-tellers. Rather than always have the answer, or be quick to solve someone's problem, Level 5 Leaders help team members solve their own problems or find their own answers. This builds their own abilities, ownership of the solution, empowers self-organization and makes teams faster. Many times making a clock-builder can be started by responding to a question with "What do you think?" I've been surprised how many times they already have an idea, they're just looking for feedback, support, or political covering. You can answer with, "Well, try that out and let me know how it goes," and watch as the team begins to solve more and more of their own problems.

Homework: Ask yourself: Does it feel good to solve people's problems? To be needed? Or to be able to help? Is your value based in part on how critical you are for things to get done? Are you okay with them figuring out everything by themselves?

Tuesday, Common Team Needs

Marcus Buckingham said that the difference between management and leadership is that management looks at what is unique among people, and capitalizes on it, while leadership looks at what is common among people and capitalizes on that.

Knowing what the common concerns are, or addressing a common need, is important. Vision, a key leadership trait, is pointing to a common goal or destination that enables a group to rally around and towards that - a common goal or challenge as they struggle, fail, win and journey together.

Homework: Look at the common felt needs of employees compared to what management thinks they need. What do you think the top three for your team members are? List them in the next retro and have the team dot vote them.

Wednesday - Positional or Influential Leadership

The challenge, and the blessing, of leadership in the ScrumMaster role is that you do not have authority over the team. You can't tell them or force them to do anything. Yet, traditional, authoritative leadership is actually the lowest form of leadership. People aren't as likely to truly be following you as a positional leader (for example, a manager). They are doing what you say, whether they like it or not, because they have to. In those situations, they're not giving the positional leader their best, but only the minimum required. Just enough to not get in trouble or fired or noticed.

Having people listen to you, follow you, as a servant leader means you must learn and grow in the powerful area of influential leadership. Forming relationships, understanding their needs and concerns, fighting on their behalf, protecting them, taking hits for them.

Homework: Looking back over history, who do you admire? Any heroes or people that you respect the work they did, the impact they had, or the challenges that they overcame? If so, in what ways can you apply lessons from them for your life and work now? What would they tell you?

Thursday - People Development Wins Championships

You must develop team members to win championships
John Maxwell wrote a very popular book on leadership. A few quotes from him:
"You can't lead people without liking them."
"At one level, you focus on becoming a change agent - focusing on productivity."
"Productivity wins games. People development wins championships."
"Besides the obvious competence, effort and skill, leadership also depends on intentionality."
"To succeed as a leader, you must help others move forward."

Homework: Pick one of the quotes you like (or another quote from the web page), print it out large to post on your wall at work, and small to put on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard. Keep it in front of you for a week. Don't start your computer or end your day without looking at it (even better to say it to yourself) or start your car or brush your teeth without the same.

Video Fridays

Stanton Complex - face the brutal facts, but don't let go of hope. In 1965, Captain Stanton was shot down and in a POW camp in Vietnam. While others kept believing any day that they'd be released, the reality was they weren't. These people ended up giving up, or worse. Stanton was hopeful, but not unrealistically so, and faced the reality that, also, they may never be released.

On your team, in your company, it may look grim. It doesn't help to believe things will magically change based on nothing other than your wishful thinking. And yet, we have to hope and believe that there is a chance, a chance worth fighting for, that they someday could.

Always respond positively. Don't join others in their complaining. Focus on solutions - what can you change, what experiment, what can you ask for, that might help. If you're not sure, ask yourself, "Is this noble or excellent?"

Homework: Watch the video of Jim Collins (or listen to his audio clips), or Patrick Lencioni.

Weekend Warrior: Review all of Jim Collins Hedgehog Concept items. List out the five levels of leadership.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Career Kaizen #4 - 5 Ways to Make Real Change Happen

Monday, It wasn't easy - I had to change a LOT

The challenges you face are what make you better
Difficult days are rewarding. The challenges you face are what make you better, more than what you were last week or last year.

Imagine that you are observing some amazing team, better than any you've ever been around. You ask the ScrumMaster, "Wow - how did you help them get to this place?". He replies, "Nothing, they were like this when I showed up." What kind of inspiration is that?

Yet, when you feel challenged, maybe even too much at times, these are exactly the points that push you into responding in new ways, trying things you haven't before, becoming someone, perhaps, that you weren't before. So when someone asks, "Wow - how did you help them get to this place?" you smile, laugh and say, "It wasn't easy - I had to change a LOT. This is where it started…" and they will be all ears.

Homework: Do your own speedboat exercise. Draw a boat on a sheet of paper (yes, really - drawing connects with a different part of your brain). Now, draw three or so anchors off the boat that are slowing you down. For each anchor, write three actions that might help with each area. Now, choose three, and either add them to your personal kanban board, or calendar them.

Tuesday, If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

Yes, you really can change. I've wanted to learn to play guitar for years. In fact, I have one. I've had it for 16 years. Up until several weeks ago, I hadn't played more than a song within any given season for at least 8 years. Maybe picked it up once in a month or two.

But now I've played it every day for weeks. I've caught up to where I was a decade ago and passed it. I've learned new songs and notes. I have callouses on my fingertips again. Not only am I playing, but my family is often joining in singing as they walk in and out of the room. Wonderful repercussions.

Why the change? It's something that I really wanted for a long time, so not a lack of desire. Well, it's habit. I added it to one of several daily check-off items on an app I use. Just wanting to flip it to green - done - has made me stop and do it. And now that I've gotten used to just finding a moment to do so, I'm finding more moments and connecting that decision with the reward of the feeling while I'm playing.

It may or may not work for you. It actually took me a couple of weeks, and some tweaking (I had to set a goal of having at least one day where I did ALL items on the check list). But, do something, and inspect and adapt. Because, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

Homework: If you have a smart phone, check out some of the habit-building apps. Start with one positive habit you'd like to build. If you don't have a smart phone, try an online version, or try adding it to your calendar or daily to-do's via Outlook or even good old paper.

Wednesday, Help the Elephant

What specifically needs to happen to turn the elephant?
What is an intermediate achievable turn for the elephant?
The elephant and the rider. You may already be familiar with the story. Elephants can be guided by a rider down a path, but if the elephant really wants to go somewhere, it's going to go there. Same with us and our desires and goals. We may want to go somewhere, but we're often taken somewhere else by the elephant - our emotions. I may want to lose weight, but on a stressful day, I'm much more likely to eat chocolate (true). Or I can want to go running in the morning, and so set the alarm, but once it goes off at 5:30 AM, I don't feel like getting up very much. It could be the same for wanting to speak, get into training, go back to school or a certification program.

Help turn one of your goals into a reality by helping the rider. Look for bright spots - times or situations that things did go well, or you did have some progress. What was happening in that? Script the critical moves - don't inundate yourself with too many choices. What, specifically, needs to happen? Point to the destination - is there an end goal that the habit lines up with or supports?

And help the elephant, too. Shrink the change by lowering the bar so that you can get some success. One habit I had was popping my knuckles. Rather than trying to go all day, my first goal was just not to do it before 10 AM. Then it was 1 PM. Now it is all day. Studies were done that showed that people were 40% more likely to return to a car wash if they were given a 10 punch card with two punches already done, versus an 8 punch card with none.

Homework: How can you help the rider? What are the critical moves to successfully achieve the task? How can you help the elephant? What is a small starter goal to incrementally move toward success?
Share your ideas in the comments below...

Thursday, The Growth Mindset, or the Fixed Mindset

People generally fall into one of those two categories. The fixed mindset believes that we have a certain amount of abilities and that if we do or don't do well at things - subjects, jobs, life, it's because we don't have what others have. If we did, we'd do well, naturally. The growth mindset believes that we can learn, grow and change in these.

Homework: Answer the questions:
1. People are born with a certain intelligence that stays fixed throughout life. True or False?
2. Choose one: Do you demonstrate your ability or increase your ability?
3. When you fail, what does it tell you?

Video Friday:

Watch the TEDx video The Power of Belief

Weekend Warrior:
Check out Linda Risings YouTube videos on the Agile Mindset

Watch Carol Dweck's Mindset video or check out the book or audio book.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Career Kaizen #3 - Your Culture

Monday - Your Cultural Context

team meeting in  circle
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
What is your company culture?
This week we'll be looking at your cultural context. A mentor once told me "People trump process, but politics trumps people", and for the business, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." So, what is your company culture? And what does that mean to you?

The technology innovation adoption curve is a model adapted by Geoffrey Moore that plots the relative number of people who fall across a continuum of their response to new technology. There are innovators, early adopters, early and late majority, and laggards.

This matters for you because agile is, in the same way, new. IT changes how many people in the organization work, aspects of their roles, what's expected of them, and even deeper and more importantly, it changes what's expected of people's mindsets and what the values are.

An agile survey showed that the number one reported problem with agile adoptions was management resistance.

Homework: Read up on the curve, plot where you are, where your team is and where you think your company is.

Tuesday - Lead with Vulnerability and Transparency

You are part of a team. Even more so with agile, we can't find our success outside of that. Like a relay race, you may claim a fast time for your segment, but if the baton is dropped, you still lose the race.

Patrick Lencioni wrote about what makes teams healthy, and what holds them back. The common problems are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Many teams asking for help are stuck at the first two levels, so let's focus on how you can help with those.

To help with the absence of trust, first, lead with vulnerability and transparency. Tell them how you blew it (they usually already know anyways), when you were stressed or worried. Affirm them for what they do that you can't do so well. Be the first one to share, ask the difficult question or talk about the elephant in the room. Model transparency. Affirm them when they do it.

Second, look for conflict, don't avoid it. We should cultivate environments where it's okay to disagree, and passion is okay. No personal attacks, of course, but freedom to speak your mind and have opinions.

Homework: Look at the documents on Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Wednesday - Get your Team's Perspective

What does the team think? Schedule a meeting, or include it in the next retrospective, to have them say what they think they have, both on the curve, and with dysfunctions.

Homework: Schedule the meeting (unless it will be part of the next retro) and review the documents with the team.

Thursday - The Change Agent

Healthy things grow. Growing things change.
Lead by embracing change.
How and why do people change? What motivates them? What motivates you?

There's a saying - healthy things grow, and growing things change. But we can't make people change. Just look at corrective institutions, rehabilitation centers or many marriages.

But we can lead by embracing, and living out, change. Although I may teach and coach about change, I'm surprised how often I'm actually resisting it. For each of us, this is true for many reasons, but the point is to be mindful that we all struggle with it, not just others. Is there a habit you haven't broken, a goal you haven't attained?

Two reasons that change is hard are emotion and habit.

Homework: Look at the summaries for Switch and Habit. Note three points or items that stuck out to you.

Friday - You, Your Team, and Your Response to Change

By now I hope you have some feel for both the culture around you, your team and your own response to change.

Homework: Watch these Switch and Habit videos on YouTube. 

Weekend Warrior: Do a force field analysis of what changes are supposedly wanted by the company and what is hindering them.