- Topic 1 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series
transcript written by Wayne Brown
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 article 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.
Additionally we hope that the screen graphics are helpful in making the connection to numerous items we cover.
So let’s get started with topic 1…
As illustrated here in the graphic, in our role as leaders 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 each have varying expectations and needs from us and our limited capacity – 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 engage these stakeholders successfully.
Stakeholder engagement introduction…
A useful starting point in engaging stakeholders is to incorporate 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. From here we can develop strategies and actions where necessary, to manage or support these groups or individuals.
It’s a particularly useful approach for less experienced leaders, that are feeling overwhelmed by the events and the volume of demand.
Once clustered, we review each group to determine if they are a supporter or perhaps a detractor. This is powerful knowledge which we can utilize to determine the best strategy for working together successfully going forward.
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”.
The 3rd links shared here are for people interested in doing further research on this influence concept and tools using a slightly different angle and perspective.
Let’s now look closer at each of the stakeholder groups and touch on those important considerations.
There is no right or wrong order here and it’s definitely not my purpose to trigger heated debate about which of the stakeholder 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.
Team versus Customer stakeholders…
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 sufficient social media discussion fueling this debate, without my added involvement.
The “team” is critical in that collectively they determine the success of you and your business. Therefore they need your full commitment through professional leadership and by supporting, encouraging, coaching and developing them.
The 1+1 equals more than 2 principle, definitely applies here. Create the right environment and enable each member of your team to perform consistently at their peak and the business becomes unstoppable.
No real surprise therefore that in the following videos in this series we place heavy emphasis on specifics for developing this key stakeholder group.
Similarly, understand your customer’s expectations and drive your business processes, systems and team actions towards true focused customer centricity and success becomes 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 with-in and the commitment to realize it.
Check out this link to video 1 of the Net Promoter Score video series – a very in-depth analysis on how you and your business can determine if your customers are promoters or detractors.
Family versus Boss stakeholders…
Moving now to the topic of work-life balance or perhaps more specifically work-family balance. Most leaders today 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, because of all the stakeholder groups this one sticks with us through the toughest of times, encouraging, supporting and keeping the home front together whilst we are often away, travelling, entertaining or working long days.
Some cultures, countries and companies seem to have found the right mix whilst others not.
At the end of the day you need to determine what is the right balance – and this is not only applies for you but also for your team.
Please give your team members equal opportunity to strike this harmony.
Check out the Jeff Bezos interview speaking about “Work-Life Harmony”.
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 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 and at what frequency?
- Are there any do’s and don’ts?
One of the worst outcomes we see is from leaders that choose 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), but 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 bosses door and set-up a one-on-one chat – it’s never too late.
Peer versus Supplier stakeholders…
Onto another two stakeholder groups – 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 we want you to do a little experiment.
For this experiment we could just as easily have chosen the final two stakeholder groups of the Company and Social Networks, given your interaction frequency is normally not as regular as the previous 4 stakeholders already covered. Less familiarity means the results will be easier to determine.
There’s are numerous studies conducted which maintain that verbal, non-verbal and emotional actions are super powerful and character shaping – watch this video from Amy Cuddy as one great example.
The attached link “YOU ARE CONTAGIOUS” – a video from Vanessa Van Edwards covers this very interesting subject so 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.
This tends to make sense as 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 suppliers reaction. Remember the Leaders body language is the focus of everyone else.
The first test is through body language using your hands and face to support your expression – when greeting someone ensure that your hands are open and visible at all times and use hand gestures whilst speaking. And make sure you are smiling authentically (watch the above 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 endearing atmosphere? How was the conversation and body language of your colleague?
For the second experiment, repeat the non-verbal gestures but this time choose your questions carefully –do this twice, the first time using topics related to enjoyable events or situations – “have you planned any vacations recently?”
The second time, use mundane types of work related questions – such as “been busy lately?” Gauge the difference in response. We’re pretty sure the results will be quite clear.
Company versus Social Media…
And to our final two stakeholder groups – those that are not directly related to me as a leader but often have an 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 people – perhaps in the region, or HQ, most often they are located in a different city and perhaps country.
Identifying and understanding how and why your role may impact them or appear on their radar, enables you maintain an awareness and be conscious of any issues which might trigger a reaction.
Remember the importance of networking!
It’s also great in helping you identify how you can contribute to the success of the company by being able to see the bigger and broader picture.
If you struggle to identify those persons or can’t determine what actions might be appropriate, seek guidance from your immediate boss. Most likely they will be happy to help you work through this.
As stated in the beginning, we didn’t group the stakeholders in order of priority.
Therefore this final group – our social network, should be seen as no less important than any of the others.
In fact many times in my life, the broader community has had tremendous influence on assisting my career.
Have you ever heard of the 6 degrees of separation. It has had numerous tests to prove it’s viability, however never really been proven emphatically. More recently however through the explosion of online social media a new dynamic has evolved.
This illustrates that the size of your network is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a few random acquaintances and that their impact for you is often much higher than the impact through your friends – makes you stop and think doesn’t it?
Should I have accepted the social media friend request from that stranger the other day? What opportunity did I just miss out on as a result?
Take one last closer look at the diagram – can you see the one stakeholder which we haven’t covered thus far – yes our future robotic partners. It is a reality that in the very near future we will have to work more closely with robotics that are utilizing the latest in AI development and driving our IoT world.
How and what exactly is still not clear, but what is certain, is that this is something for our lifetimes and perhaps even in the very near future 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 in the near future and you should start see the point I’m making .
We are in our infancy in this field, but the coming explosion of interconnectedness through IoT and convergence of all technologies, means our reliance on robots is almost guaranteed.
Best to have them on the radar don’t you think?
So this provides a very brief insight to our 8 – sorry 9 stakeholder groups. Each group is individually important and collectively they are crucial to your performance and career progression.
You’re encouraged now before moving onto the next topic to review this transcript, listen to the podcast and or watch the video. Hope you found the collection of links and additional information on the various stakeholders groups useful and interesting.
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 the basic skills with your team and empower them by applying the topics and methods we’ll cover, then your foundation for success is laid and solid.
So that concludes the first topic 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 to press the like button if you enjoyed and even better if you wish Subscribe to our channel Mentors Rant.
Looking forward to chatting again shortly.