Leadership books are always a hot topic with Coaches, and in a recent inquiry, many were bantering about this or that book that has some new insight or wisdom. For all the writing and focus on what makes great leaders, we seem to be missing so much these days. One of the themes circulated as if it is a fact is “Leaders do the right things, Managers do things right”… and it is normally shared with an edge that one perspective is better than the other. As we end the year, it is worth thinking about both, and where you had sweet successes to celebrate, and missed opportunities to reframe… and you need to find a ratio of 3 to 1…
… one of my accomplishments for this year was really diving into re-education particularly about the Brain. We are required to take 40 hours of Continuing Education every 3 years to stay “current’ with our Coaching license. Many years I can get them from conferences we attend, but this year, I was presented with the “opportunity” to do them on-line, which added the possibility of a global cadre. With Zoom calls, I can instantly share insights with people who are literally 12 hours away, and in cultures and perspectives that are very different from mine.
In multiple courses, with very different global cohorts, one management principle was repeated over and over this year: lasting change comes from rewiring your Brain… and to do that, positive perspectives need to be emphasized 3 to 6 times more often. It is so counter to our “analytical” and “command and control” culture, that we often will find ourselves even thinking that this is silly, “too soft”, “not pragmatic”. And… science says it is exactly so: MRI and other studies have documented repeatedly that the changes that last, 1) start in the future, and 2) are positive.
Chick Corea was the founder of Return To Forever, and as such helped set the tone for most of the management decisions. The early band you heard would morph through a few iterations before the “classic” lineup we hear today got into a groove. While short-lived, the band produced a couple of albums that managed to rewired jazz before they would go their own ways. This album, No Mystery, was the 1975 Grammy award winner for Best Performance by a Group. Listen to how tight the band is with the interplay of perspectives between the keys, the bass, the drums, and the guitar. It is played out in 2 parts: listen for the themes between them, and then how they come back together in the end.
Management is a contact sport… from your first words, you are wiring or rewiring both your own and your teammate’s brain. No pressure right? It starts with your perspective of course – what state are you in? And again watch out for judgment, which is leading you into the analytical/closed part of your Brain. For example, I came back from Christmas exhausted… just a thing – not a bad or good thing… to pay attention to…
… and this morning I managed to find a task that was best done with low energy – like listening to a lecture that I had to get through… and suspicious of the perspective going in. Perfect – with low energy, I didn’t waste energy fighting it… and I actually got a lot out of it, actually reinforcing the same theme. If you want to change things like social justice and healing for all, it starts with positive future-focused voices. Guilt, past actions, etc – all take you back into the analytical closed mind… and I am not sure even the speaker appreciated that irony.
And thinking about how I manage my Coaching calls, even my first question (which is almost always a tossed-out “How’s it going?”) – sets the foundation … for the WRONG conversation. It is a judgment waiting to happen… and typically leads to a focus on problem-solving… not helpful for change. At least not change that is lasting. Pushing way out there in the future – what will today’s conversation help you be then? THAT is the type of question that prepares the Brain for change. Now you are not necessarily a coach, but that leadership style produces long term benefits to organizational culture, so, you may want to learn a bit – particularly from my “mistakes” 😉
As you do your own Retrospective, I would look for the times that conversations really made a difference … and look for themes. Was it the time of day, the person, the topic, and remember we are looking for GOOD things, so watch out for that negative wiring. For me, it is noticing that creativity is best very early… AND that preparing the night before when energy is low ACTUALLY helps tremendously. Low energy can actually help as you realize that “well that is not going to happen”… and probably shouldn’t 😉
Management of self – that is one of the practices that can always pay off, but again only with a perspective spirit of curiosity and support… and positivity. As you listen to this masterpiece, think about how you can construct a different pattern for yourself and others next year… it is No Mystery you need a Celebration Suite.