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Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Was normal that good?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have talked and thought about when things get back to “normal.” I live in the midwest, and life is begin to feel more normal. As more people get vaccinated and the number of cases declines, social distancing and masking requirements are being eased, meetings are taking place in person, travel is resuming, and entertainment opportunities are more prevalent. I think it is important to ask right now: 

  • “Was normal that good?” and 
  • “Do we really want to go back to the way things were?”

I want to make it clear that I am not minimizing the suffering, death, and isolation brought by the pandemic. I sincerely look forward to a time free from the health concerns and anxiety caused by the virus, and my heart goes out to all those who have suffered and lost loved ones. 

The following were common complaints before the pandemic:

  • Companies could not find enough skilled workers.
  • Churches were experiencing a drop in attendance and collections.
  • Restaurants were getting by on razor thin margins.
  • Brick and mortar stores were losing out on sales to online retailers.
  • Colleges were experiencing a decline in traditional undergraduate students. 

Life was far from perfect when things were “normal”. You can probably think of many other examples. A few lessons for leaders from the pandemic:

  1. Let’s get rid of unnecessary travel: As I’m starting to meet with people in person again, I’m being more intentional about whether meetings should be in person, virtual, a phone call, or an email. Travel can take away from time needed for other professional and personal responsibilities. Leaders need to safeguard their employees’ time and energy to focus on what is important. 
  2. Unplanned collisions build community: I have missed accidental run ins with people I know that occur in the grocery store, at civic meetings, and athletic events. In the future, I want to take advantage of these opportunities to build relationships and network. Leaders can create these collisions within organizations and with professionals in other industries. 
  3. Random check ins shouldn’t go away: During the first several months of the pandemic, I made a special effort to reach out to people to check on their health and well being. My friends and family did the same thing for me. These gestures were appreciated, and I hope they won’t go away. Check ins from leaders show care for employees as real people. 
  4. Change comes from a feeling of urgency: The pandemic provided us with an urgency to change. The organizations that recognized change was necessary for their survival were likely those who were most successful in adapting. As leaders to to create change in the future, they need to explain the “why” behind the change and the reason change is necessary right now. 
  5. Long term planning and rapid adaptation are needed: Successful organizations develop a long term vision for the future, but they also are able to quickly pivot to take advantage of opportunities. 
  6. Employers can’t take their employees for granted: We are experiencing a labor shortage that has been accelerated by the pandemic. Organizations need to focus on retention and development of their talent. Employees don’t leave jobs-they leave bosses. Leaders have an important influence on their direct reports.

How will your new normal reflect the best of pre- and post-pandemic life? What should you leave behind? How will your organization be better as a result of the pandemic? 

We provide leadership training and coaching services that can help leaders grow. Leadership coaching can provide accountability for busy leaders who want to change but don’t feel they have enough time. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership

Leadership mindsets

I believe that most people are capable of leading, and an important part of leadership is mindset. How leaders view themselves and those around them will impact their leadership effectiveness. As you read this blog, I encourage you to consider your mindset and the mindset of your team members.

McGregor’s Theory of X and Y

Douglas McGregor was a management professor at MIT who developed theories of motivation and management. Theory X assumes that employees are not motivated and do not enjoy work. Employees seek jobs for security reasons rather than personal fulfillment. If you follow Theory X, you will most likely use an authoritarian approach to leadership. Theory Y assumes that employees like work and have intrinsic motivation. The proper environment will help employees be successful and enjoy their job. Those who ascribe to Theory Y will be more likely to use a coaching approach to leadership which has been found to be a more successful practice. As we consider mindsets, it is appropriate for us to reflect on whether we ascribe to Theory X or Y. 

Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck has achieved fame teaching and writing about fixed and growth mindsets. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence is fixed or static. As a result, those with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges and believe they are simply unable to do certain things due to their limited abilities. Those with a growth mindset view intelligence as something that can grow or be developed. When they encounter obstacles or criticism, they learn and improve from the experience. As leaders, we can model a growth mindset to those around us. We can show that we all have the ability to change and improve. In addition, we can recognize the growth of those around us. Our organizations will be more successful if employees embrace a growth mindset. 

Paranoia vs. Pronoia

I don’t think I had heard of pronoia before I read John Lee Dumas’s book The Common Path to Uncommon Success. Pronoia is considered the opposite of paranoia: “Whereas a person suffering from paranoia feels that persons or entities are conspiring against them, a person experiencing pronoia feels that the world around them conspires to do them good.” (Wikipedia) How we view the world shapes the way we lead, the relationships we develop, and our willingness to take risks. Are you overly pessimistic or optimistic?

Scarcity vs. Abundance

A scarcity mindset forces people to take care of themselves and can lead to feelings and actions of desperation. In comparison, an abundance mindset helps us be more generous. People that display generosity are more likeable and perceived as more competent. When we operate from scarcity, that can result in more scarcity due to it being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Abundance can lead to giving more and ultimately receiving more in return.

How do the mindsets listed above relate to your role as a leader? Leaders who focus on their mindset will lead more effectively and can help shape the mindsets of their team members through intentional conversations, coaching, and training. 

We provide leadership training and coaching services that can help leaders develop the mindset needed to be successful. In addition, we can help teams become more cohesive through group training and facilitation. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership, Strategy

There is a labor shortage. What will you do?

EMSI recently published “The Demographic Drought: How the approaching sansdemic will transform the labor market for the rest of our lives?” This fascinating report details the decline of the US labor market and provides some recommendations for organizations. EMSI breaks down the word “sansdemic” meaning “sans-without, demic-people.” This reports states:

“A talent deficit of over 6 million Americans within the next seven years threatens not just colleges and companies but our common way of life. Losing people means losing many of the goods and services and standards of living we have grown to expect.” (p. 39)

The reasons for this decline in available labor includes:

  • Lower birth rates
  • Retiring baby boomers
  • Low labor participation of prime-age Americans

EMSI concluded the report with: “Every student, every employee, every potential employee is valuable” (p. 39). 

What can organizations do to address the growing labor shortage? 

  • Employee retention should be a key strategy for all organizations. How is your organization intentionally working to retain employees?
  • Provide flexible schedules for employees. Many baby boomers are interested in working, but they do not want a full time commitment. Younger members of the workforce are also interested in flexible, part time schedules. How can your organization accommodate the desire for flexibility? 
  • Offer parental leave and benefit programs for new parents. What benefits are offered by your organization to new parents? 
  • Utilize technology and automation to maximize efficiency and reduce the number of employees needed. What jobs can be filled by artificial intelligence, automation, and technology? 
  • Evaluate low wage positions. It is possible that the labor shortage will cause companies to raise wages or reconsider staffing arrangements. 
  • Embrace diversity, equity and inclusion by expanding the pool for potential employees. Are there demographics your organization should consider targeting for recruitment?
  • Invest in your current workforce by providing training that will allow employees to move into new roles. What partnerships are available with higher education and external consultants to improve job skills?

After writing an initial draft of the blog, I shared the above suggestions with some business leaders. Both leaders emphasized the importance of a positive company culture and their focus on employees. 

Andy Niemeier is the Co-CEO of Azzip Pizza, a growing chain of fast casual pizza restaurants with ten locations. Azzip’s turnover rate in last year was 72% compared to the industry average of 131%. Andy said, “We view this as a strong sign of the strength of our employer brand if we are able to retain employees at almost twice the levels of our peers.” 

In their 2020 employee survey, team members were asked “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend Azzip Pizza as an employer to a friend?” Nearly 90% of employees responded with a ‘7’ or higher with ‘10’ being the highest response (53%). That seems unusually high for the food service industry. Andy explained, “I think an employer brand is incredibly powerful. What are you known for as an employer? What are people telling others about what it’s like to work at Azzip? Do former employees speak well about their time at Azzip? A strong employer brand also translates over into a strong consumer brand (and vice-versa!).”

Matthew Nix is the President of Nix Companies, a growing group of small businesses combined to form a diversified metal solutions provider offering industrial products, manufacturing, and maintenance contracting. Nix Companies has recently been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work in Indiana.” Matthew emphasizes the importance of focusing on employees and building a culture. He shared, “Our early decision to focus on our people and our culture will prove ever more valuable throughout the remainder of our careers.” 

In a recent article titled “The myth of labor shortages,” Leonhardt (2021) writes “companies have an easy way to solve the problem: Pay more.” This strategy may help encourage prime-age Americans to enter the workforce, but I doubt that only increasing wages will be enough. This problem is complex and multi-faceted. I recommend employers consider the recommendations in this blog. In addition, they should focus on listening to and learning from the experiences of current and former employees. 

How is your organization preparing for the labor shortage? What will you do in the coming year to ensure you have a skilled and talented workforce? We can help your organization invest in the workforce through leadership training and coaching programs. In addition, we can help facilitate a plan for enhanced employee engagement and retention. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us

References

EMSI. (2021). The demographic drought: How the approaching sansdemic will transform the labor market for the rest of our lives. 

Leonhardt, D. (2021, May 20). The myth of labor shortages. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/20/briefing/labor-shortages-covid-wages.html

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership

How can leaders establish and promote shared purpose?

In The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle shares three skills of highly successful organizational cultures: 

(1) Build safety, 

(2) Share vulnerability, and 

(3) Establish purpose. 

This article is the third installment of a three part series about organizational culture and explores shared purpose. Previous blogs can be found at “How can leaders create psychological safety?” and “How can leaders develop vulnerability?” Organizational culture benefits from being clear about why the organization exists and why that is important. When teams experience shared purpose, they find work more meaningful, they persevere through challenging times, and they understand where the organization is going. 

In their classic HBR article, Building Your Company’s Vision, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras write, “Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world” (para. 1). Thye share several examples of successful companies that have clearly articulated their “core ideology” which consists of two parts:

  1. “Core values are the handful of guiding principles by which a company navigates.” Core values represent what the organization stands for and will not compromise. 
  2. “Core purpose is an organization’s most fundamental reason for being.” A core purpose is not the services or products it offers nor the clients served. The core purpose is equivalent to the “Why” that Simon Sinek refers to in his Golden Circle

Organizations can develop their core ideology as described by Collins and Porras to clearly articulate their established purpose. 

Coyle (2018) suggests the following ways to establish purpose for organizations:

  1. “Name and Rank Your Priorities” – Many leaders struggle to clearly articulate their priorities. Priorities should be a memorable number. Coyle (2018) suggests that many successful teams include “how they treat one another-at the top of their list.”
  2. “Be Ten Times as Clear About Your Priorities as You Think You Should Be” – Leaders need to be intentional about overcommunicating and clearly describing their priorities. 
  3. “Figure Out Where Your Group Aims for Proficiency and Where It Aims for Creativity” – Coyle (2018) breaks down skills into those that require proficiency or “doing a task the same way, every single time,” and those that require creativity or “empowering a group to do the hard work of building something that has never existed before.” Leaders should communicate whether proficiency or creativity is expected.  
  4. “Embrace the Use of Catchphrases” – Organizations with a shared purpose often have catchphrases that remind the culture who they are and where they are going. 
  5. “Measure What Really Matters” – Leaders must strive to set metrics that align with the organization’s purpose and vision. 

Gallup has studied employee engagement for many years. They have developed 12 questions to measure employee engagement. One of the questions is: “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.” Gallup (n.d) explains the importance of this question: 

“Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their organization makes them feel their job is important. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize a 34% reduction in absenteeism, a 41% drop in patient safety incidents and a 19% improvement in quality.”

How well does your team understand their shared purpose? Organizations and teams should spend time discussing and establishing their purpose. Leaders can ensure time is set aside for this important effort. We regularly work with leaders and organizations to enhance leadership and culture. Some of our popular services include leadership coaching and meeting facilitation. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us

References:

Collins, J., & Porras, J. (1996, Sept.-Oct.). Building your company’s vision. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/1996/09/building-your-companys-vision 

Coyle, D. (2018). The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Bantam Books.

Gallup. (n.d.). The Power of Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey. https://www.gallup.com/access/323333/q12-employee-engagement-survey.aspx

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership

How can leaders develop vulnerability?

In The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle shares three skills of highly successful organizational cultures: 

(1) Build safety, 

(2) Share vulnerability, and 

(3) Establish purpose. 

This article is the second installment of a three part series about organizational culture and explores vulnerability. I previously explored psychological safety in my blog “How can leaders create psychological safety?” Safety and vulnerability are interrelated, and I think safety and belonging must be established before vulnerability is shared and experienced among team members. Vulnerability relates to one’s ability to ask for help or admit their shortcomings. Vulnerable teams are more cooperative and collaborative. Leaders sometimes struggle with vulnerability, because they feel like everyone expects them to have all the answers. 

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

When I was a young leader, I struggled with vulnerability. I thought everyone around me expected me to know more than I did. Leaders sometimes suffer from imposter syndrome and feel like a fraud. Admitting you do not know everything may feel like a weakness, but it is a sign of strength. If leaders and team members are not vulnerable, this can negatively impact the organization in many different ways.

Brene Brown has written a great deal about vulnerability. She wrote, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage” (2017).

Coyle (2018) suggest leaders can build vulnerability in the following ways (the book includes more ideas):

  1. “Make Sure the Leader is Vulnerable First and Often” – Leading by example will show team members that vulnerability is acceptable and expected.
  2. “Overcommunicate Expectations” – Leaders should strive to overcommunicate their expectation for teams to cooperate. 
  3. “Deliver the Negative Stuff in Person” – Instead of relying on email and other forms of communication, leaders and team members can build vulnerability by delivering negative information in person. 
  4. “When Forming New Groups, Focus on Two Critical Moments” – Leaders can set the tone for how team members respond during the first time teams encounter vulnerability and disagreement. 
  5. “In Conversation, Resist the Temptation to Reflexively Add Value” – Many leaders are accustomed to listening and then adding an idea or related experience that they had. Leaders can display vulnerability by simply listening. 
  6. “Make the Leader Occasionally Disappear” – Stronger teams can sometimes be built when the lead steps away at calculated. 

During one on one meetings with direct reports, leaders can show vulnerability by asking questions such as:

  1. How can I lead more effectively?
  2. What is something I should do more as a leader?
  3. What is something I should do less as a leader? 

Instead of feeling and acting defensively, leaders can simply thank their direct reports for helping them grow. 

Vulnerability will result in a stronger organizational culture that is rooted in cooperation and a desire to grow. How well does your team display vulnerability? We regularly work with leaders and organizations to enhance leadership and culture. Some of our popular services include leadership coaching and meeting facilitation. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us

References:

Brown, B. (2017). Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Random House.

Coyle, D. (2018). The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Bantam Books.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.