Essential Leadership Cycle Podcast – Episode 3

Welcome to episode 3 of the ELC podcast. I am your host and intentional leader, Rob Fisher.

In the last episode, we described the first attribute of the ELC – Self and Team Awareness. I hope listeners immediately used some of the recommendations at the end of the podcast to start making changes in their intentional leadership. In this episode, I am going to discuss the second attribute of the cycle – Shared Vision and Values.

Did you know that 2 of the 4 major personality groups typically believe that “if I give you something – it is shared…” In other words, we put the vision and values out, and if you work here you agree – therefore we have a SHARED vision and value. And did you also know that 2 of the 4 major personality groups believe that something isn’t SHARED unless they have truly bought into both the value AND the behaviors behind the values? Do you know a leader or an organization that has been surprised by a safety culture or engagement survey? This surprise typically indicates a lack of self and team awareness AND limited shared vision and values. I was with an organization recently that claimed they WEREN’T surprised by their poor employee responses to a recent survey. The question would then be – Are we as leaders living the values to support our vision if we KNOW there is a mismatch and we haven’t done anything about it? Do you know of an organization that has a value of safety first, and the leaders think that because they start every meeting with a safety moment that they are living that value? When you talk to the workforce, they tell you yes – safety is first, right behind production and profit. What about the organization that strives for the vision of “being most admired,” and yet has multiple Environmental or OSHA violations? Remember when we talked in the last podcast about self and team awareness, it can lead to better-shared vision and values, but it is up to the leaders to be constantly engaging to determine whether there is a match or some mismatches. They need to intentionally seek out this information in order to know where the team is at and what they need to do to change to ensure that a values mismatch doesn’t lead to a major incident. Think about every major incident that makes the news… when you boil it down, somewhere in the organizational drivers of the incident was a team that was low on self and team awareness and was missing some shared vision or values. Values (and mission and vision) aren’t necessarily shared” because you put them on the website and a bunch of posters. Senior leaders need to verify that the managers understand what goes into the values, the WHYs. They need to verify C-Suite and board understanding of why we have those values, and what they really mean. There has been a lot of talk lately about the “Zero” movement. Things like Zero harm, Path to Zero, Zero incidents and a few others are thrown about in the industry, and my experience is that when asked separately no two people on a leadership team give the same answer to “what is that?”, “what does that mean?” or “How do you do that?” If the senior leaders and the managers don’t understand it and cannot explain it well – you do not have a shared vision and value in the workforce. Be careful -it is not the desire to do no harm that is the problem; it is how LEADERS interpret what that means and their behaviors around it. If leaders don’t understand that the vision is about not harming the workforce and all of the things that go into reducing and mitigating risk, then they will probably manage no harm well, and they can convey it to the workforce. Unfortunately, because the number 0 is attached to things like Zero Harm, it just becomes another number that managers try to manage. This defeats the purpose of trying to identify the elements of our systems that could hurt, maim or kill people, as we end up managing the indicators instead of the system, and the goal is unreachable. So many people disagree with the goal because it is unreachable. Maybe permanently, but if you identify many systemic drivers and some large companies have been known to reduce harm in all forms for long periods significantly. What would you rather their goal be? Some harm? A little harm? How do you explain that to the people who will ultimately get “harmed?” Consider the difference in the organizational value of “our people are our greatest asset” and a management directive for constant enforcement of certain rules. Wouldn’t a management expectation of continual re-enforcement be more aligned with the value?Go out and have some “values-based engagements. Don’t watch work, have a conversation. Pick one of your values and design open-ended questions about how they interpret that value and what they think your management behaviors do to show that value. Document your results and share them with your leadership team. Have other senior leaders and managers do the same.

Next time on the Essential Leadership Cycle podcast, we will visit the next attribute of the cycle – Clear Roles and Processes. This has been your host, Rob Fisher. Thanks for listening, and, remember Intentional Leadership starts with YOU!