Leadership is the second most significant challenge to business agility adoption faced by most organizations. Leaders who set the tone for the entire organization often use legacy leadership styles and behaviors that run counter to the new culture the organization is working to instill. This sends a mixed message to the rest of the organization. Unfortunately, according to the BAI report, Leadership Development is not a priority or understood as necessary for the success of our Business Agility Transformation.
Frequently I hear a lot of leaders’ complaints about agile, for example, “It won’t work here …that’s not how we do it here”, “we are different…”, “perhaps works but the guilty person is my boss, my team, this company, etc.”, so, the question for leaders is who has the problem? Are you a player or a victim? Everything is about choice and responsibility. What can you do? Now, how do leaders need to act in a consistent way to be agile? And at the same time still focused on business goals? In my experience that implies difficult conversations.
The Leadership Dancefloor is a meta framework for leadership development created by Angel Diaz-Maroto that could help to design leadership conversations. It proposes a strategy with 9 types of conversations to maximize the effectiveness in the influence of an individual on a group taking charge of a purpose. These conversations are arranged in 4 dimensions.
The #LeadershipDancefloor is structured in 4 Dimensions ordered as follows:
- Relational Framework: Agreements that hold a relationship in time. Formed by conversations with 3 key moments to establish agreements: frames of reference, work agreements and feedback to improve it over time. Focused on building relationships based on rules and clear agreements on what is expected of each one of the relationships, agreed information on what our frames of reference are as well as ensuring that it improves over time.
- Dissatisfaction Gap: Divergence between the current situation and our goal. Formed by 2 types of conversations to build: Context and Purpose. Focused on clearly articulating the end result to be achieved, where we are now, and what makes this change important.
- Leader’s Bridge (Individual): Leader approach to close the gap. Formed by 3 types of internal conversations in order to generate awareness, enable options, and activate capabilities to close the gap. These are: Identity, Options, and Actions + Commitments and should be considered in this order.
- Collective Bridge: Collective approach to bridge the gap. Formed by 3 types of external conversations to generate awareness, enable options, and activate capacities to close the gap. These are: Culture, Relationships and Practices + Commitments and should be considered in this order.
In each of these conversations, we can use different strategies and rely on different models to build each dimension. The important thing is not to forget any of the perspectives, nor the relative order between them.
We can use The Leadership Dancefloor as a strategy to pursue any kind of purpose in any kind of context, not just in the territory of Agility. Let’s explore the conversations on each dimension:
- Conversations within the Relational Framework Dimension:
- Relationship: Used to build and improve a Relationship over time. Key moments within the Relationship conversation:
● Framework: What is agile?
● Labor agreements, also called alliance
● Feedback: Ask permission
- Conversations within the Gap Dimension:
- Context: What market changes are having the biggest impact in your business? What do you think is the most important thing we need to take care of right now? It serves to agree what the current situation is and what we decided to take charge of at this time. Key moments within the Context conversation:
● Shared Context construction
● Create relevance, also called turn up the volume on Context
- Purpose: What results do we expect to get and why are they important now? Serves to agree on the representation of the shared future that we decide to achieve. Key moments within the Purpose conversation:
● Shared Purpose construction: From my purpose to our purpose
● Chunking: To break down and be focused
- Conversations within the Individual Bridge:
- Be: Why is this change important to me? Helps leaders become aware of being and interpret the current observer and integrate the necessary observer to close the gap. Key moments within the Be conversation:
● Awareness: Individual awareness
● Mindset change: It is identified that this change occurs when a narrative change is observed. For example, from employee mindset to entrepreneurial mindset
- Options: Which new actions should be available to reach our Purpose? Helps leaders discover and generate new ways and allies to bridge the gap. Key moments within the Options conversation:
● Exploration of individual options
● Generation of allies
- Actions: What will you do to reach your purpose? For leaders to choose and commit to a new way to close the gap. Key moments within the Actions conversation:
● Alignment: Contextual leadership, align leadership style to context
● Create self-commitment: Self-promise
● Sustain self-commitment: Reinforce if fulfilled or repair and correct
- Conversations within the Collective Bridge
- Culture: Why do we decide to put energy on this? The collective identity. It helps groups and leaders become aware of the current collective identity and integrate the necessary values to close the gap. Key moments within the Culture conversation:
● Awareness: Team consciousness
● Cultural change: Identified by the change in narrative
- Relations: Which new conversations should be available to reach our Purpose? Possible Relations and Practices. It serves for groups and leaders to discover and generate new ways and allies to close the gap. Key moments within the Relations conversation:
● Generation of Relationships
● Exploration of possible collective Practices: For example, from centralized decision-making, structures, and local goals, to distributed control and common business perspective
- Practices: What will your team do to reach your purpose? Used for collectives and leaders to choose and commit to a new way of closing the gap. Key moments within the Practices conversation:
● Alignment: Choice of collective actions
● Create shared commitment: Promise
● Sustain shared commitment: Reinforce if it is fulfilled, repair and correct if not
Organizations are a network of conversations, use The Leadership Dancefloor to master leadership conversations with your teams. But is it enough with those strategies? or what kind of competencies are applicable to The Leadership Dancefloor conversations? So, let’s have a look at some of them:
● To listen: Deep listening skills
● Investigate: Discover with the other what is happening
● Articulate: Paraphrase and qualify to turn disconnected, vague, or unclear information into usable information
● Anchor: Reinforce understanding, awareness, and interpretation
In conclusion, to take it as a practice, before you start any conversation ask yourself:
● What makes this conversation important?
● What should I take care of in this conversation?
● What should I enable in this conversation?
And most important, before starting any action ask yourself:
● What Result is this action getting us closer to?
● What Goal is that result pursuing?
● What long-term Purpose is that Goal supporting?
With a better strategy for Business Agility, you will get more benefits for the organization, for example, the shift from reinforcing long-term detailed planning to enable experiments with short feedback loops and then realize that Business Agility is the ability to adapt quickly to changes and respond rapidly and flexibly to world landscape.
Remember “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin.
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