Let's talk about managing change, since we've moved from the Covid upheaval to staring down the barrel of a recession. Great leaders in these times are people who thrive on change and can lead fearful teams with vision and courage. You can be that person!
The cornerstone of managing change as a team leader is managing fear. It's being the rock who carries the vision for the future, maintains confidence that it can be achieved and is determined to steer a course through uncertainty and setbacks to get there.
In this episode, learn how to make the most of adversity and team dynamics by demonstrating good old-fashioned values - trust, respect, honesty and openness.
Learn how to safeguard your team and help them rise above each new challenge, teasing out their best work.
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Hi everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout To Leadership podcast, where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello my friends, this is Dex. This is your bonus Leadership episode that I promised on managing change. And you might also want to go back and listen to the other Leadership episodes, 65 on executive skills, 66 on managing teams and 67 on your own career and leadership. And also 63, which is my student, Benjamin's success story about managing big change, how he did it. And I'm really still talking about leadership for those who've been promoted from hands on expert roles into leadership without very much in the way of formal training. What anyone else here who's largely self taught. And probably if that's you, you're also a type A personality professional, who is experiencing or has experienced burnout. In which case these tips are gonna be gold. Because you're already a leader in your field, you might have operated a little bit like a lone ranger and haven't developed out your people skills, which for some bizarre reason, they now call soft skills. And I think this implied diminishment is wholly inappropriate because people skills are the core skills of leadership. Anyhow, it's often a lot easier to bend whatever skills you have as a professional to create vision, strategy, plans, and even budgets in leadership and management. That's often a lot easier than learning to leverage or nurture a team to perform how you want them to perform and also to play well with other teams and other leaders. I've got a student to this very moment, let's call him out, who got a big promotion in burnout recovery, but whose role has changed quite a lot in the last round of cuts rippling through the tech industry. So arguably, recession might be coming this year. Many of us are feeling the pinch of that. So I'll run into that very headwind. And had to expand his role to integrate more tightly with other teams and leaders in this time really of major and unpredictable lay offs. So, he's finding that quite activating personally, and he's really wrestling with a need to control. So, the work we're doing together is, he's taking a big deep breath and we're working on really how to find your feet in these shifting times and rise above this dog eat dog fear and panic. So, he really is gonna come out of this as a shining example of leadership, which really means that other people around him might be shuffled out, but I strongly doubt that he will. And this is one example of how burnout coaching can really lift a lot of different aspects of your career. It's really, I think, the best way to ensure career safety and growth. And I'll never forget when I started out in management, I came up from top end software design and development to team management, project management, client relationship management, quality control, a whole lot. And to start off, I attended a series of workshops at the Australian Institute of Management called Management Skills for the Technical Person. And they really did give me some great advice, but they didn't manage to get rid of my Type A personality. They gave me some clues about how to manage stuff, practical clues, but nothing how to develop seriously phenomenal leadership, or quite frankly, even proficient leadership. Like you probably had to in leadership, I kind of made it up as I went along and I learned from my mistakes. But even way back then as a burnout candidate, I was perfectionist, impatient, frustrated, intolerant of failure, and people who didn't agree with me or had a different, I.e., slower decision making style. I thought I had a mind like a steel trap, brilliant but liable to catch slow moving beasts in its teeth. And I still think of leadership really it can be a tough gig, because I know some of you feel that because most of my students tell me. So, if that's you, you're not alone. Anyway, today, let's address managing change because there's some very important skills here to manage, not simply the organizational, logistic planning, HR, budgetary aspects of change, but the people side too. There are four skills you can use to support your people to remain calm and productive. You can help them, number one, be accepting of change and their reactivity to it and their fear of loss, which is real. Number two, engage as co agents of change being listened to and honoured, not simply passive recipients. Number three, if you are valued in their skills and knowledge of what works, connect it to your vision for the upside of change, even when change didn't come from you in the first place. You yourself don't know what the future will bring, and maybe you're not even the biggest fan of the decision. Number three, pulling together, bonding over the shared challenge rather than withdrawing in fear and distrust and also then being a bit defensive, maybe protecting number one. So, I think the three key areas to broadly look at here are; number one, psychological safety, which allows us to accept and process change. Number two, radical candor, which helps us engage as co agents of change and pull together as a team. And number three, empowerment, which helps us to feel valued and worthy. So, we're gonna talk about those key areas now. The first one then, and it's a big one and you know a lot about it already, I should think, but maybe you might be hesitant to implement all of it. So, let's talk about it again. Let's go through it, creating psychological safety within your teams. So, I think of this as the biggest factor in success, both yours and theirs. So, let's get into the nuts and bolts, particularly for those of you who are used to autonomy, and are now required to lead. Notice, you are never herding cats with a team. You are orchestrating a movement of people who secretly want to succeed and you are gonna show them how. My favorite boss ever, let's revisit him. His name's Don. He supported me to the hilt. This was back in 1993. And I was at that time leading multimillion dollar manufacturing software projects. And he really believed in my abilities. He always anticipated that I could give him what he needed, he trusted my expertise, he continuously exposed me to new opportunities and experiences, and he offered me training to support my growth. On top of that, very importantly, he sheltered me from his own difficulties in running the business. If I'd have made a mistake, he would want to know why and what my best guess at a solution was, but he never yelled or blamed or humiliated me for it. He'd still assume that I'd done my best and would then support me to the customer and help me broker a new agreement with them. He was decent, honest, calm, and I really felt... I felt respected, honoured, and included in what he was trying to achieve. And his attitude definitely brought out the best in me and engendered a fierce loyalty in me. And in my leadership, ever since then, I've really always strived to be like him. So, at this point for you then, I think it's worth thinking about who was your best boss? What was it that made them so great? What mattered to you about them back then? How did they help you succeed and grow? Yes you too can cultivate the habits of that boss because whatever you see and admire in them, already has its seeds in your soul and can be developed. So, I think then the foundations of psychological safety at work are; number one, establish an open and respectful communication culture where it's safe for everyone to contribute and also for them to challenge the status quo, which includes you, without fear of being embarrassed or marginalized or punished. Number two, be transparent in order to build trust. Number three, set clear expectations about what success looks like and also perhaps what failure looks like. Number four, reframe failure and mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth. Number five, take a supportive and consultative approach to leadership. And number six, actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within your team. And I'm gonna draw down into each of those now. So, the first one then, an egalitarian communication culture where everyone is welcome at the table. Really think about what gets exceptional results and you can really usually trace it back to the team pulling together through adversity or challenge. So, to promote that, you can listen respectfully to people, acknowledging the validity of their unique perspective and mentoring them on the best way to work together with respect. So, you create safety for them to be seen and heard. There are no dumb questions. You seek to understand them and their reasoning, not refute or discount if it doesn't agree with yours. And also, credit publicly the person who creates a win for the team, but take responsibility for all team failure on yourself, you are driving. Number two, cultivate trust. Be open and honest with everyone and invite honest feedback from them. Sometimes traditionally, we haven't done this, this certainly wasn't the way I grew up in business. But really I would suggest you do it like this, and it makes a huge difference, tell them the truth about whatever's happening, when it's likely to happen and how it's going to affect them, what re organization will ensue, even job loss, role changes, reporting manager, team structure, products process, the whole thing. They should have access ideally to exactly the same information as you, if you want to empower them. Let them know what you value and what the new culture's going to look like so they know how to anticipate. They will need to fit in with that, who they need to be. And be honest about your own doubts while at the same time reinvesting in your confidence and your intention to succeed and have their backs. Number three, set clear expectations. Share goals and metrics so they know what success looks like, and let them know what attributes and behaviors are gonna promote job continuity for them going forward, especially in times of job cuts. Number four, reframe failure. Demand excellence, but don't demonize failure. Simply seek to understand the mistakes and not repeat them. And then go ahead. Look for the next right action to take that will move you forward. Number five, take a supportive and consultative approach to leadership, can be a really big challenge for those type A people. And I'm putting my hand up for that one. So really, well how you can do this is, be really upfront about not having all the answers yourself, not necessarily knowing what's happening next, ask people for ideas on solving problems within your constraints, whatever they may be. And let the answers emerge through discussion from within the team. Don't be the one to solve all the problems yourself. Really have their backs on this. Cultivate their loyalty through your trust of them. And number six, diversity. We hear an awful lot about it these days, but also there is quite a lot of research backing it as a technique for producing greater success within a team. Diversity, when you allow for and embrace diversity, what you're in fact doing is promoting the success of your team. And if you want to look for the proof of this, look in a book called 'Big Potential' by Shawn Achor. He refers a lot to the science of teamwork and success within teams and certainly diversity. Diversity is a big factor. A team will always outperform an individual for this reason. So, once you have diversity or encourage diversity, recognize that people's backgrounds are not all the same and they're all going to have different beliefs and perspectives. In that shakeup, if there is a shakeup happening within your team, if that's what your change involves, think also about letting people who want to leave go as quickly as possible because keeping the wrong people on the bus lowers morale in the team and it hampers the work of people who want to stay on the bus. This is from 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins. Then rehire for culture and attitude over skills and rehire for diversity as well. Consider repositioning those who are not fitting in very well in the role that they have somewhere else within the organization, if they do fit the culture that you're looking to build. And some challenges that you might face with all of this; Number one, you might feel scared, vulnerable, and doubtful yourself. You might resist the change yourself. Okay, that's natural. But you will need to find ways to handle your own emotions and attitudes first. And find ways to focus on the end game rather than bogging yourself down in dread and what ifs. So, if you have dread and anxiety coming up, if you have fear and vulnerability coming up, feel it, feel the dread, feel the anxiety first, acknowledge it's there, it's okay that it's there, but just feel it in your body and let it pass through. Choose to let it go. Because also remember that anxious thoughts describe a future that either won't happen, or if it does, you're gonna find a way to survive it. So, it's probably not as critical as your brain makes out. Another challenge you might face is, you might not like delivering bad news to your team such as firing someone, but this is one of the responsibilities of leadership in any time. So, try not to yield to your emotions there and stay in solution thinking, "How can I make the best of what is?" Your team need a steady hand to guide them. So, really help your team take ownership of being the people who make this work no matter what. Another issue that might come up is you've got very rigid rules for how things should be done. And I would say, in this case, really encourage yourself to see all the ways that that isn't true. That they don't have to be only done your way, that you're not indispensable, because this is really going to allow creative problem solving and creative flow to emerge in your teams when you free that up for them, when you encourage them to discuss, experiment, evaluate and correct. Because remember going back again, it's proven that diversity in teams breeds greater success than homogeny. And lastly, there might be unknowns and you may not be able to predict all of the decisions that will come. So, you might be feeling almost as lost as your team. So, in that case, really be realistic about what your team can achieve now, and you can make it a gain to find out how you can come the closest to what's being asked of you, or how you can improve on how things are being done now anyway, even if you don't know what's gonna happen next. So, that's all about psychological safety. That's a quick introduction, but I would really encourage you to consider, re listen to it and think about how all of those things apply in the teams that you are leading right now. And the second one is radical candor. So, there's a book called 'Radical Candor' by Kim Scott. And if you can encourage radical candor in your team, what you'll do is you'll engage your team as co agents of change. This is how that happens. You'll really help them pull together. Because really psychological safety is predicated on radical candor, on honesty. Kim herself says, "Radical candor is not brutal. It happens at the intersection of care personally and challenge directly." Care personally for the individuals and challenge them with direct honesty about what's happening and what you see. So, it's really about moving the whole team and its results forward together by directly confronting the barriers to success. Never overlooking something that's an inconvenient truth. It really moves you from being in a command and control culture, which is typical of type A personality, to one of genuine collaboration. With radical candor, anyone can speak truth to power without fear of rebuke, humiliation, being silenced, overruled, penalized, or even excluded. The requirement is this, with radical candor, it's always done with respect. It's solution focused towards a shared goal. It's really directly highlighting an issue or something that's not working without personal insight or prejudice. It's a building up process, not a tearing down. And if that's uncomfortable for you, the leader, imagine how much more uncomfortable it is for your team. So, this is something you have a lot of power over creating. If your track record has not been this, radical honesty and acceptance of input from others, your team may not expect your honesty, support or invitation to participate. So, surprise them, change but manage your own feelings as you do it, 'cause they're all gonna come up in your face when you try this. And if you're interested in this, I highly recommend reading the book 'Radical Candor' by Kim Scott for some instructions. And if you want to read about how this creates above average results when you do it, in an environment of highly sensitive people, there's an example in the book, 'Creativity Inc." by Ed Catmull. It describes his journey with animation teams at Pixar. He talks a lot about what worked and what didn't in team building and basically, he created a reproducible system that could be redeployed for any team in any film, and it's kind of a lossless fail safe system on the fail quickly model when it's least expensive for a film. And he used it to deliver time after time impressive and highly saleable films, that were produced on time and on budget. So, it's a really excellent kind of how to manual on how to create this in your team. And number three is empowerment. Another kind of new agey word that's been banded around forever and we're never completely sure what it means. But how I think about it is this is you can really support your people to contribute to the changes that are required and will be required from their best energy, creativity, confidence, and proactive engagement. And I think this really rests on the other two of psychological safety and getting buy in. But if you've created safety and honesty, if you've got the radical candor happening and you've made it safe for people to participate, it's really then empowerment is just enhancing your team's sense of being valued, so that they can uplift their contribution and their bonding with the team. So, I would say this, if you continue to listen without prejudice, if you keep asking your team for their input on what would make things better and if you make sure it's safe for them to voice their concerns and encourage as well as correct, then what I think of this as is really you're leading from behind more of than in front. A type A personality will always lead from the front, often at a gallop. But somebody who wants to empower their people will lead a little bit more from behind pushing people up in front of them. So, consider what resources, training, and support each person needs to grow to the next level, because of course it's way more cost effective to invest in your people than it is to lose them and have to replace them. If you feel a little bit threatened by letting them all lead with you alongside you, remember you're not seeding your role, you are lifting them to grow up with you. Everybody rises together. You're simply mentoring up towards your level as you should be as a leader. So, all of those things I've covered today, you might wanna listen, it was kind of a dense episode really, it had a lot in it. And also look for the four books that I'm gonna put in the show notes that I would study if you are interested in digging deeper. So, that's what I have for you today. I am always excited to mentor my students to their best leadership and help them push their career boundaries up towards their next dream, whatever that might be. And if you relate to what you've heard today and you want some of that, you can learn all of it and quite a lot more, come and talk to me, visit dexrandall.com. And I would also love you. If you like this episode, please subscribe, rate and review the podcast and share it on social media because this really helps me to reach other men who are suffering in burnout and don't know that the right help is available. So, thank you so much for your time today. Lovely to be here with you for a few minutes. I will see you again next week. If you are in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.