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, 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.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership

How can leaders create psychological safety?

In The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle (2018) shares three skills of highly successful organizational cultures: 

(1) Build safety, 

(2) Share vulnerability, and 

(3) Establish purpose. 

This article is the first installment of a three part series about organizational culture and explores psychological safety. The importance of safety is often overlooked by leaders. According to Coyle (2018), teams that experience safety often describe themselves as a family. What words would your team use to describe itself?

Google has studied their teams and identified five characteristics of effective Google teams. The first characteristic is psychological safety:

“Psychological safety refers to an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk or a belief that a team is safe for risk taking in the face of being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive. In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.” (re:Work, n.d.)

maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramid
Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html#gsc.tab=0

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he stated that physical needs must first be fulfilled before moving up to the next levels. Employers need to ensure their employees’ basic needs are met before safety, especially psychological safety can be met. To create psychological safety, leaders can ensure they create an environment that allows genuine listening and respect. Coyle (2018) suggests leaders can do the following to enhance psychological safety (The Culture Code includes additional ideas):

  1. “Overcommunicate Your Listening” – Leaders should physically show that they are listening through eye contact, physical and verbal cues that they understand, an alert listening posture, and avoiding interruptions.
  2. “Spotlight Your Fallibility Early On” – Leaders must admit that they do not know everything. They can find opportunities to invite input and admit their mistakes.
  3. “Embrace the Messenger” – Many leaders make the mistake of reacting negatively when they receive bad news. Employees should not be scared of sharing bad news. Sharing bad news is better than hiding it. 
  4. “Overdo Thank-Yous” – Showing gratitude is a great way to develop relationships and encourage cooperation among team members. 
  5. “Make Sure Everyone Has a Voice” – Giving employees a voice is difficult to accomplish but is certainly worth the effort.    

Leaders might consider asking their employees the following questions:

  1. How well does your supervisor listen to you?
  2. How well do your team members listen to you?
  3. How able are you to share opinions without fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or retribution?
  4. How well does the team manage conflict when there are differing opinions?

To learn more, I encourage you to read “What is psychological safety at work?” by the Center for Creative Leadership. 

Psychological safety will result in organizations with stronger employee engagement, employee retention, and a more innovative culture. How psychologically safe does your team feel? 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:

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

re:Work. (n.d.). Guide: Understand team effectiveness. https://rework.withgoogle.com/print/guides/5721312655835136/ 

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

The job skills needed in 2025

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report was released near the end of 2020. Unfortunately, I have not heard many employers talking about it. The report predicts that “50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases” (Whiting, 2020). 

According to the Future of Jobs report, the top 10 skills of 2025 include (Whiting, 2020):

  1. Analytical thinking and innovation
  2. Active learning and learning strategies
  3. Complex problem-solving
  4. Critical thinking and analysis
  5. Creativity, originality, and initiative
  6. Leadership and social influence
  7. Technology use, monitoring, and control
  8. Technology design and programming
  9. Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  10. Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation

As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, many organizations have eliminated training programs to control costs. Some organizations have decided to postpone training until employees can safely gather together in person. As a result, many organizations will not have prepared their employees to master the skills needed in 2025. 

K-12 schools have largely focused their efforts on math and language arts standardized testing instead of many of the skills included on this list. Many employees will enter the workforce needing training in these skills. 

How is your company preparing employees for the skills needed in 2025? Many organizations do not know where to start. T.A. Dickel Group specializes in leadership development and creative problem solving. Our training and programs can help improve innovation, creativity, leadership, social influence, and problem solving. We have experience leading and designing training and coaching programs.

How can we help you? Please contact us for more information. 

References: 

Whiting, K. (2020, Oct. 21). These are the top 10 job skills of tomorrow – and how long it takes to learn them. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/10/top-10-work-skills-of-tomorrow-how-long-it-takes-to-learn-them/#:~:text=up%204%25

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

Successful adaptation and cognitive diversity

I have really enjoyed watching and working with organizations that have successfully adapted during the pandemic. We can all think of success stories, but we can also cite examples of organizations that have struggled or closed their doors. 

I think the organizations that have successfully been able to adapt have created cohesive teams that were able to work together to solve some of the complex challenges they were facing. These teams likely had a mix of team members who think differently from each other. They needed out of the box thinkers, researchers, planners, and implementers in order to create and execute creative solutions. When we think about diversity of teams, we should also be thinking about cognitive diversity. 

One of the tools we use to help develop more effective teams is the Basadur Profile. The Basadur Profile enhances team creativity, collaboration, and problem solving by helping each individual understand their unique problem solving preference and how that relates to their team members’ preferences. Dr. Min Basadur developed the Profile based on over 40 years of research, and over 150,000 people have taken it. 

The Profile has identified four unique problem solving styles (from basadurprofile.com):

Generator: ‘I like to get things started’

“Generators love finding new problems and opportunities to work on.”

Conceptualizer: ‘I enjoy taking time to really define the problem’

“Conceptualizers like to define a problem and put together ideas and solutions.”

Optimizer: ‘I enjoy turning ideas into practical solutions’

“Optimizers like to refine and evaluate ideas, turning abstract notions into practical plans.”

Implementer: ‘I want to get things done’

“Implementers do what is necessary to get the job done.”

After completing the Profile, we lead team members through hands-on activities to help them better understand the results. I suspect the organizations that have most successfully navigated the pandemic had team members skilled in all four of the problem solving styles identified by Basadur. Those organizations with less than three of the four problem solving styles have probably struggled more to adapt during the pandemic. 

Would you like to learn more about how the Basadur Profile can enhance your team’s effectiveness? Please contact us to learn more about this affordable and effective approach. 

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.