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As always, these varieties of learning opportunities, interactions and conversations brought together practitioners from across high performance to discuss their current challenges and immediate priorities through a number of different learning environments.
So what really stood out to us in May? Which key themes came through strongly? Where do we need to get better? Here, we outline the key takeaways.
Community Group Calls:
Across our Community Group conversations, which bring together Leaders Performance Institute members with similar job functions and challenges. This month across all of our communities of practice, we reverted back to more topic-led discussions after taking a break from this format and instead focusing on open forum discussions – the open forums unearthed some interesting areas which we gave attention to in May’s conversations.
Reviewing competition across talent pathways
When one of our communities of practice was asked about current thinking, one area that stimulated deep conversation was whether due to the impacts of the pandemic, we need to rethink competition across our pathways – do we need to be more innovative and challenge traditional norms?
Although we didn’t have all the answers, a few interesting threads did come through from the conversation which are worth considering and how they might align to your respective environments:
Exploring the art of momentum
Across one of our communities of practice dedicated to top-level coaching, we identified the theme of individual vs. group coaching as one to explore in more detail. The context behind this was that often we have come through systems where there is ‘black and white’ thinking and binary rules around how people should be coached, which in theory doesn’t make much sense as everyone is different.
Curiously, the conversation around this thread led us down an interesting path aligned to momentum and its relationship with different styles of coaching. In relation to individual vs. group coaching, we talked about how you can pre-load those setup sessions and create scenarios where the players have the best opportunities to deal with those situations. The question we asked ourselves was how much of the pressure is placed on the individual or the group, or is it more of an amalgamation of the two?
One of the members of the group shared how they were going to trial this in practice: ‘something we are going to try in training is an exploration of in-game momentum, discussing how over the course of a long while the team have put themselves in strong positions, but lose some momentum in the game at key points – how this linked individual vs. group coaching as an overarching thread is that we will have some discussions in smaller groups where we are hoping we will get some insight into personal experiences that is then shared with others – from this we get that focus on how it can be dealt with individually, but also what it means for a group setting, such as that everybody can support others in these situations. To provide stimulus, we are using a game from the NBA Playoffs in 1992, Game 6 between the Bulls and the Trail Blazers. It is an interesting analysis of everything from body language to crowd etc’.
A final consideration for us all: ‘we find that a lot of players “forget to play” when momentum shifts. This is something we need to keep revisiting as coaches. The only reason for this is what is going on in our brains, so understanding that and finding out ways to counteract it’.
In May, we ran three Virtual Roundtables, which featured two topic-led discussions aligned to the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week (Psycho-Social Support & Fostering Vulnerability in Our Environments) and the third part of our Leadership Skills Series, where we focused on teamwork and collaboration. Here’s some of what resonated across the conversations.
Getting better at teamwork and collaboration as a competitive advantage
The third instalment of our Leadership Skills Series focused on the theme of teamwork & building skills. High performance is a collective endeavour – ‘the quality of connections between people is more important than individual talent in determining how well we will perform’. However, we perhaps know more about how to get the most out of individual performance than we do collective performance.
We talked about the two types of teamwork: teamwork itself and ‘teaming’. What are the differences?
Four Skills of Effective ‘Teaming’
1. Building high trust relationships. Act as if there is trust immediately. Reach across silos – focus on shared interest. Invest time and energy in building relationships. Let go of baggage. Show respect – make people feel important.
2. Speaking up – contribute; sharing knowledge, insights and ideas.
3. Listening up – situational humility (open to what we don’t know). Let go of ‘right & wrong’. Proactively seek out and be open to other people’s insights, and views. Lead with questions.
4. Facilitation / Diamond thinking. Help the group to make effective decisions and use time. Rapidly drawing out everyone’s input, before evaluating those ideas in order to make a decision.
Finally, what is getting in the way of quality collaboration and, in turn, what are some of the best organisations doing to mitigate this? How does this look or work in your environments?
What is inhibiting quality collaboration?
1. Unequal contribution – who speaks is determined by personality and / or status.
3. Tribal – we are naturally less open with people we see as part of a different group.
4. Lack of psychological safety leading people to withhold their thoughts.
5. Fixed positions and defensiveness.
6. Lack of strategic focus – we don’t use time effectively in meetings.
What are high performing teams working on to ensure quality collaboration?
1. Equal contribution.
2. Diversity of different ideas and perspectives – if you want a good, creative discussion, get people to write down their thoughts first.
3. See everyone as part of the same tribe, focus on shared interests.
4. Encourage people to speak up, and challenge with skilled candour.
5. Staying open and curious about different views to our own. Welcoming challenge.
6. Focus on a few important conversations. Use a diamond structure.
Fostering vulnerability in your environment
Vulnerability – this has certainly become much more of a buzzword in the last few years when thinking about top level leadership and high performing organisations despite it not being a new phenomenon. I think we can all agree, leadership and organizational dynamics are changing – certainly notions such as psychological safety, wellbeing, vulnerability etc. are playing an enormous role in this evolution.
We wanted to take stock of where our collective thinking was in relation to vulnerability and what individuals and organisations were trying in their respective environments to ensure this notion is better integrated across the organisational culture. Instead of writing a paragraph, below are the top lines takeaways that the participants shared at the end of the call:
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