True Collaboration: The Best Results Are Team Driven

True Collaboration: The Best Results Are Team Driven

As a business begins to grow beyond stage 1 where it was mostly driven by the founder / CEO and maybe one other right hand person who helped get all the things done that the CEO wanted, you’ll likely begin to hire more team. What actually happens when you hire and begin to onboard can make all the difference about creating long term success in your business.

In top down authority models of leadership, people may think of themselves as leaders and managers who are responsible for taking what the top level executives want done and making their team get it done. It is an outdated model of doing what you’re told. But when you build a cross-functional leadership team, you are setting your business up to achieve the best outcomes. A strong cross-functional leadership team collaborates and contributes their best thinking to drive results. 

Essentially, a cross-functional leadership team takes the strategic plan created by the CEO and / or executive team to develop the roadmap that drives the execution of functions. This is the heart of what your business needs as it continues to grow and expand into its next level. When everyone within your organization is committed to bringing their best thinking and ideas not only to their functional area, but to other areas, then it isn’t just one person (the CEO) or an executive team giving orders. A strong cross functional team is the engine that helps drive the best results. 

You want your team to share their best thinking. They have information that the CEO and executive team may not have. For example, one of your best places for market research may come from your customer service team. They are the ones who interact with clients on a regular basis and are getting constant feedback on what clients really want in real time. To stay completely within their own functional area in this case would be a missed opportunity that could have saved you time and money.

When I help teams create and build their cross-functional leadership team, we focus on understanding that there’s so much more available to the business when this team is in place. It can often feel as if taking the time to slow down to build this foundation will make everything go too slow and halt growth altogether. The truth is that it isn’t sustainable for one person to do all the thinking and delegating as you grow and expand your business. You’ll spend more time fixing things and putting out fires and if you’re the CEO, you’ll likely experience some level of burnout as a result. You can’t do all the things—your business has needs and it has constraints. If everything is solely dependent on you, your growth will have a visible end point.

An effective cross-functional team needs to be built intentionally with a lot of safety. To bring to life a high-performing cross-functional team you need to create a safe container. It starts with a mindset shift from top down authority and control, to embracing a new mindset that your team members’ collective thinking is one of the most valuable assets of your organization. With this as your anchor, you can begin laying the groundwork to create a psychologically safe environment. Psychological safety is THE key ingredient of successful teams. Why? Because when a team feels safe from blame, judgment, and criticism, they feel free to raise issues early and share their creative ideas before they are perfected instead of hiding them. 

One of the best ways to start creating this safe container for your cross-functional team is to invite them to share their ideas. Listen more. Ask curious questions. You can do this by asking, “Can you tell me more about that?” The gift of listening and asking more questions is that you get everyone’s thinking rather than just your own. And with the complexity and fast pace of business today, more thinking power is paramount to your success. 

Once you demonstrate that this is a true collaborative environment where all thinking is welcome, the next phase of the cross-functional team’s development begins. It takes all participants in the team to keep the environment safe. All must practice listening, curiosity, willingness to be brave and share, and a commitment to bring out the best in one another. Each person is equally responsible for the overall outcomes and success and that takes listening in and drawing out other perspectives.

And it is not always easy to think as a team, but it is worth the work to develop your collaborative think tank. In today’s economic climate with so many unknowns, you need a psychologically safe environment now more than ever. Unexpected big external changes keep happening and the businesses that survive and thrive will be the ones that harness the power of their team. 

Let us know how we can help you build and strengthen your cross-functional team.

This is leadership!

Barbara

 

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Change Your Approach

Change Your Approach

Entrepreneurial CEOs are used to jumping in and rolling up their sleeves to keep things moving forward to get results. That is why I am sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I recently worked with a client who, like many of you, is used to doing whatever it takes to achieve outcomes without thinking much about the how—that’s the nature of many entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs. 

But what happens when that is no longer working and that “do whatever it takes to get it done” attitude may actually be counterproductive?

Business is complex and what got you to where you are now is not going to work as you move forward and into new stages of business. Sure, when it was just you and maybe one other person, that “jump in and do whatever it takes” mentality probably worked great and helped you hit your goals. But that won’t work when you have multiple teams and team members. You’ll need to change your approach to achieve your goals and business outcomes.

This particular client has had great success in the past with pushing forward and expecting things to happen, because that’s exactly what did happen—at the start of their business, it was easy to get clients because their industry was thriving. 

But now in our current economic climate and across multiple industries, it is harder to get new projects and clients using the same tactics that worked in the past. This client and I worked together to see how his pushing forward and doing whatever it takes might be counterproductive to getting new opportunities and clients.

As we worked together, he began drafting an email to a potential connection that he’d known for years but had never actually given him any work. Because he was feeling the pressure to bring in more business and new projects, the email had a sense of urgency that didn’t feel at all supportive—it sounded kind of needy. His request was all about him. And I have total compassion because he was stressed about his bottomline. Being CEO is often painted so aspirationally that it can be easily missed that the role comes with a lot of risk. That said, focusing on yourself does not build relationships or connections. And when you aren’t mindful of “The People Part” in business you miss the key to your ongoing success–make it about the results you can achieve together, ask about the other person first, build connection and rapport. Building secure working relationships sets you up to have a long-term client. 

So instead, I encouraged him to talk tentatively and to approach his request from a place of being of service. That involved writing it in a way where there wasn’t an expectation for an immediate response. We included phrases like, “I know you’re busy and you’ve got a lot going on…” and “Just reaching out to let you know we are looking for new projects, so if you have any or know anyone who might be looking…” rather than “Do you have any upcoming projects? Please respond soon…”

The difference between speaking tentatively without a sense of urgency and asking for an immediate response was a crucial turning point for my client.

As a result, this approach of speaking tentatively and being of service created a potential opening where there wasn’t one before. His long-time connection responded right away! Even though his connection didn’t have any current projects for my client, he agreed to keep him in mind for any future projects. 

So when we show up in service of others, we choose to be anchored in a collaborative partnership rather than leading from a sense of urgency and immediate demand to get results. Thinking about how you want to show up and approaching the way you communicate from a supportive place is a powerful way to create an opening and connect. And that’s what “The People Part” is all about. 

Set aside the urgency and focus on connection–a positive shift is sure to follow.

 

Warmly,

Annie

 

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

No Humans Are Perfect

No Humans Are Perfect

As humans, we’d like to believe that someone has everything figured out better than we do, because we know the all too frequent moments that are crystal clear: we do not have it all figured out.



I’ve had my share of teachers and mentors through all stages of my life that I have looked up to, learned from, and hoped to become more like. And maybe you can relate to this, but a time or two I was momentarily thrown off kilter when I learned that one of my most influential and important mentors was a flawed human too.

Perhaps you have witnessed a favorite teacher doing something very human like losing their cool under pressure, or missing an important deadline. Here’s the thing…the learning part of the human experience is ALWAYS unfolding. Every single human has very human things (ie: flaws, failings) that they are learning from daily and a next-level they are growing into no matter how accomplished or well put together they seem. Many of your mentors and teachers are teaching the very thing that they also need to work on for themselves—still

In fact, one of the greatest blindspots successful people can have is thinking that they already have it all figured out and there is nothing more to learn in their area of expertise. This is a missed opportunity—they miss the gifts and innovation that come from being open to not knowing it all.

In other words, no humans are perfect. That person you look up to may have a higher level mastery in a certain area, and you can learn from their journey, but they have not perfected it. 

Perfection is not available—only continued willingness to learn. (Read that again.)

It is no mistake that one of my biggest life lessons is what I feel most called to bring to others. The greatest challenge of my life has been growing into being fully okay with being all the way me. I’ve lived it. I know it (to a point). I know I am meant to share it. And I am certain I have more to learn. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that as a coach of leaders, my greatest joy is helping the well-intentioned, determined people I meet become all the way themselves. It is such a gift to be able to witness their evolution as they grow into their fullest, most empowered point of expression, as I too, practice doing exactly the same. The leaders I coach teach me so much everyday and I feel honored to witness their journey.

The world needs healing. And for that the world needs a fully empowered you. Keep stepping forward. Grab the wisdom from others that speaks to you, and then find out why it speaks to you. Ask yourself, what is the positive transformation you are here to provide? Listen for the answer. Let your actions align with that vision and then go out there and take action. 

And, I encourage you to find the mentors and teachers that speak to your heart. Allow their wisdom to add to your own, and allow from that new expansive space you find for your own potential to flourish. They have a teaching you can embrace to uplevel who you are and how you can show up. Grab it. Make it your own. Their message resonates for a reason.

Also, a word of caution—don’t expect perfection from your teachers and mentors. They have some parts figured out, and they are willing to share what they have learned, but this does not mean that they have it ALL figured out. Far from it, they will face challenges they have faced in the past yet again and falter; yet this is not their failure it is just the next level of their development, and it does not undo the positive impact or influence they have had on your own growth journey. Or at least it doesn’t have to. You have a choice. 

My advice, thank them for the gem of their own learning that they passed to you, and then build on it. It is but a stepping stone on your journey, a leg up, what you do with the new path you find yourself on is the chapter you write with your choices. 

Change at the individual level is where it all begins.

So, let’s all learn from one another and lead with compassion, humility, heart and a willingness to connect. What’s your part? 

To your ever-expanding path,

Heather

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Moving through Change As a Team

Moving through Change As a Team

As businesses move forward during this unknown time, it is important that you and your team are able to connect and think collaboratively together—there are many external drivers not only impacting your business, but the very fabric of the world. These impacts may be affecting you and your team personally. That’s why now more than ever, you and your team need to lean in to support one another. 

Creating and nurturing a psychologically safe environment is key to being able to show up—not only for the needs of the business but for one another.

As more and more businesses shift away from the old top-down authority model of leadership and move into a more collaborative environment, business owners and leaders will begin to learn and accept that each member of their team is a whole individual inside and outside of the needs of the business. That means that there is ample space for everyone on your team to show up as whole and complete humans. 

But when we are moving through great change, it can be more challenging to show up as our best selves and in Self-Leadership. We are each human and it is normal to naturally react in self-protection especially during so much change and these unknown times—we haven’t been here yet. We don’t know what we don’t know, and there’s really no way to predict what is going to happen next. That is why we need to be even more mindful of any impulse to react in self-protection so that we can best consciously choose, as much as possible, how we interact with one another on our teams and with clients. What makes all the difference in a company (in this, or any, climate) that is thriving versus surviving is that the thriving company knows how to best interact. You can have the best system in place, but if you are not communicating and interacting from a place of transparency, then you are missing a key ingredient—it’s the people part that makes the difference. 

These times call for considering our own impact on each other and offer us an opportunity to lean in even when we want to contract. 

But first, you must be in your own place of confidence as much as possible and showing up in Self-Leadership helps you be able to do that. When you do the work that helps process any difficult emotions from challenging situations whether at work or in your personal life, it is easier to show up in Self-Leadership. Our CCORE process is a way to help you move through any difficult situation and get back to a more neutral place. 

When you are able to accept and own your part and reactions, it’s easier to be present for others when they are having their own experience and reactions to what is happening all around us. This allows the space for a strong, psychologically safe environment—we can better foster secure relationships when we are confident that what we say is safe to express and how we show up won’t be judged harshly.

As I consider my own impact on my team and with the clients I work with, I am asking myself, “How can I be more vulnerable and share what is happening for me? How can this help strengthen our relationship and model how to first own my part and be able to express my own experience during these times?” I have to be willing to lean in if I want others to do the same. Building trust and being able to support one another starts first with how I am supporting myself to move through my own process and what is up for me during these unpredictable times.

My team needs me and I need them. We have to feel safe enough to lean on each other. We need each other, not only for support, but to tap into our best collaborative thinking so no matter what external drivers may be impacting us, we can count on each other to find the best solutions—together.

Here are a few ways (beyond practicing our CCORE process above) to help you show up in Self-Leadership, not only for yourself, but for the people on your team:

  • Accept what is. It is easier to make choices once you fully accept what is happening right now. It’s not a matter of it being right or wrong, but accept that it’s happening.
  • Take quick breaks that help you recharge. The more you are able to do this, the better chance you have of returning to your center and a place of peace before any potentially challenging thought or situation has a chance to spiral into anything bigger.
  • Talk tentatively when interacting with your team and clients. This demonstrates your willingness to consider other people’s perspectives and build positive collaboration.
  • Take the risk to share with others. Be willing to lead the way by being vulnerable and transparent when approaching any challenging situation that needs to be addressed. 
  • Lead with curiosity and lean in with a compassionate lens when approaching your team and clients.

We each have an opportunity to make a greater impact on our team and with our clients when we move together during these unpredictable times with kindness and compassion.

Barbara

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Leveling Up As You Move Forward

Leveling Up As You Move Forward

As you move forward on your journey from A to V, the range of what I call “acceptable behaviors” narrows. The whole team’s performance needs to improve, to become more masterful and professional, from the CEO to the leaders to the individual contributors. Because business and sports really do have a lot in common, I often use my stepson’s basketball journey to illustrate this point.

In elementary school, Justin, my stepson, was the best player on his community basketball team. He had fantastic eye-hand coordination and was great at scoring points. Being so young, all that was expected of him was to show up for games, get the ball, dribble toward the correct basket, and shoot. The finer points of the game, such as positioning and strategy, didn’t matter. Justin made loose plays and hogged the ball every now and then, but his wonderful natural ability carried him and the team to winning many games.

By middle school, Justin was in a local youth basketball league and more was expected of him. He had to learn positions and pass the ball—a LOT. He had to attend practice twice a week, learn fundamental strategies, and make multistep plays that involved other players. His coach made them do some running and skill drills to increase their ability and stamina.

In high school, he joined the freshman team, attending practice three to four days a week and regularly working out to build his strength. Then he moved to the varsity team, where he was practicing every day, including the weekends before the season started. Justin had also grown quite tall and was required to play a defensive position instead of being a player who took lots of shots at the basket. Varsity basketball is an enormous commitment for a high schooler, and before his senior year, Justin reevaluated whether he was up for it. He decided that he’d rather take all that time and energy and apply it to his studies to better ensure his place at a college of his choice, especially since he wasn’t a candidate to play college basketball.

If he had gone on to college ball, he would’ve faced even higher expectations that required an even bigger commitment, as he would have competed against and played with only the most talented players who had continued on from high school. Some of those players, those who aspired to go pro, would be making basketball their main focus and relegating their studies to just getting by.

For players who do go pro, the performance expectations are so extreme that their daily lives revolve entirely around their sport. Trainers, physical therapists, dieticians, sleep specialists, and others give specific guidance that must be followed. As the level of commitment and performance keep increasing, the range of acceptable behaviors (even outside of the game) continues to narrow. Professional basketball players don’t question the requirements because they know full well what it takes to succeed in pro leagues.

The point here is not only that expectations rise as you grow and get better at what you do, but also that you typically have fewer choices about how you do it. You must do things the proven way that works best. For example (allow me to switch sports for a moment), beginner skiers are taught how to stop by wedging their skis into the shape of a pizza slice. As an intermediate skier, I can do the more advanced parallel turns and stops, but I still use my pizza move to slow myself and regain control on a steep hill (more often than I like to admit). However, I’ve never, ever seen a professional skier use a pizza wedge to regain control while navigating a slalom course. That method won’t work at their level. If you want to be a professional skier, no more pizza wedge—you must use the best practices and techniques that deliver the best results.

Leadership and teamwork habits follow a similar development path. Most people understand this is true for skills, such as engineering or software development, but many don’t realize it’s also true for personal and interactive behaviors. Know that leadership is a competency that develops through a process of continued mastery much like sports or the performing arts. And when it comes to the skills that must become sharper as you advance in your career, what most needs to up-level is not your technique for executing specific tasks; it’s the People Part.

And here’s something else to know: As you grow, you won’t ever hit a spot when further improvement and development is optional. As much as you may want to stay at your, say, highschool level of play, the way you perform must keep going up—if you’re going to keep playing. Why can’t you stay steady at a certain level if you don’t have a desire to grow? Because the external environment keeps shifting and changing in ways that you must respond to. Client expectations increase, technology brings new opportunities and makes old ways obsolete, and economic factors require constant reexamination of profitability and even business viability.

Think about the products and services your company offered only two or three years ago and all the ways you marketed, distributed, and served customers. Has anything changed? Where would you be now if you had decided to stop improving and didn’t change anything in your business? What if you had just rolled along as is, sitting on the sidelines, not alert and in the game, but simply chose the status quo regardless of the circumstances?

Standing still will not stop the rest of the world from moving forward. And because the expectations of the outside world continue to rise, the pressure for continuous improvement only increases, which includes how the business operates. Team members must keep improving or they eventually find themselves out of jobs, either because they didn’t improve their own skills and performance or because the business didn’t keep up and ultimately failed. 

Warmly,

Annie

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Self-Care Is Non-Negotiable

Self-Care Is Non-Negotiable

Sometimes we don’t realize how much something in our work life has impacted us until we are burned out. I know there’s a lot of talk out there about the importance of self-care, so much so that it may begin to sound like the next fad or buzzworthy topic, but I can assure you that the potential downside of not implementing self-care is exhaustion and burnout. I’ve been on the exhausted side in my career and it takes far more energy and strength to recover than it would if I’d had a solid self-care plan in place to begin with.

Our team is mighty but small—each of us plays a vital role in getting things done and driving results, so when one of us is off track or having a hard time, we all feel it…

On a recent, pretty high stakes project, I pushed myself hard. It wasn’t until the project was over that I felt the full impact of having pushed myself too hard—what I was not fully aware of until after the fact was that I did the project without having a solid and supportive self-care routine in place. I kept telling myself things like, “I’ll just work until I meet this deadline and take a break when it’s done.” The problem with that kind of thinking was that the end point for taking a break was constantly moving—I never took that extra break. I pushed and pushed, working long hours on the weekend because I knew the project had to get done and thought that the deadlines were hard and fast—the truth was with this big project there were so many components and other people involved, so deadlines and timelines kept shifting from outside of my control—but my mindset stayed the same: “After this is done, I will take a really long luxurious break”.

But here’s the thing…

I was tired and when you’re tired, your best thinking is just not available. You are running on fumes and think you’re doing your best, but your best isn’t available in this state.

MY best wasn’t available. 

Yes, the project was completed and a success, but at great cost to my health and well-being. Towards the end, I was often reactive and my zone of emotional endurance was low. It wasn’t that I was always in self-protection—I had moments where I was able to show up in Self-Leadership and move forward with confidence and clarity. It was that I did not ever give myself a full break (or any breaks at all) where I felt completely rested. I was on high alert and running on fumes for far too long and constantly moving the point I’d allow myself a break.

I didn’t have a good, consistent self-care practice in place. If I had, I would have never gone as long as I did during this project without allowing myself the space to decompress and unwind. I was driven by a sense of urgency, (I don’t think I am alone in this) and I kept thinking that taking breaks would distract me from giving my all and doing the best job possible. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Every single one of us needs breaks and we need them often. Sure sometimes, you may be completely in flow and forget to take a break, but being in a flow is totally different than pushing yourself to keep going.

When we build in self-care and create the space and habit to participate in activities that allow our brains to have a break and recharge, it is the equivalent of filling up our gas tanks with plenty of energy to keep us going. But the tank needs to be refilled over and over… 

We need the same. Just like we need to eat and sleep, we need to build in what recharges and refuels us in our self-care routine.

When you feel the urge to keep pushing, try the following instead…

  • Ask yourself, “Am I pushing through because I’m really almost done or do I feel like I’m behind?” If you feel behind, take a 5 minute break to recenter yourself. Chances are you have some negative self-talk happening because you’re not as far along as you’d like—AKA self-protection. Reminder: nothing good happens in self-protection.
  • Schedule short breaks throughout your work day to take a breath and reset. The length of these breaks depend on your needs and how much you are exerting yourself on a particular project. You may not need as long of a break from simple, easy, and habitual tasks as you do from something that requires complex thinking—but the opposite can also be true depending on how long you’ve been working on habitual tasks—check in with yourself to see what feels best.
  • Make a commitment to sign off at a reasonable hour. Sure, sometimes you need to put in a few extra hours because you absolutely need it the next day, but most of our work is a marathon and not a sprint, so honoring your own needs by signing off on time or earlier than normal will help you decompress and recharge.
  • Take your weekends off unless you’re in a short term, high stakes project that will be over quickly (for example, a launch or a training that is happening). Give yourself space between your work and non-work life. It’ll help you return fully recharged and ready to go.
  • Don’t ignore your body’s signals. Shoulders and neck hurting? Take a break. Eyes tired from staring at a screen too long? Take a break.

Be proactive about your self-care routine and do activities that fill you up and help you recharge on a regular basis. Don’t wait until you’re too tired or too overwhelmed to think about it—make your self-care a priority and make sure it’s non-negotiable.

The time is now to make your well-being and needs a priority.

To your self-care and health!

Heather

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

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