OK, do read this. But then share it with your team.
“Help me” conversations
A few years ago, my buddies and I at On Your Feet sent a New Year’s gift out to everyone we felt – in one way or other, directly or indirectly – had helped us over the 365 days prior. The gift was simple: a series of nested envelopes and messages that invited the people who’d helped us to (1) reach out to another person, (2) individually, identify something they each needed help with, and (3) spend the next 10 minutes helping each other in as many ways as they could think of.
Something surprising happened. The number of people who wrote and thanked us profusely for reminding them to ask for help was astounding. They told us how rarely they did it, and how much surprising value they’d gotten from their “help me” conversation. Their partners came up with things they’d never thought of, and helped them in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Now, I’m all about frontier spirit and making things happen – but you’d think everyone had been implanted with a “whatever you do, do it yourself” microchip at birth. (And I say this ruefully, because my own microchip is activated far more often than I’d like to think.)
Leading change is an all-play
So many of the real changes we need to lead are not technical, but adaptive, changes. And as I quoted Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky in this post, “Adaptive change requires changing more than your habits or preferences; it requires new experiments, new discoveries and adjustments from numerous places in the organization.”
Just listen: New experiments, discoveries and adjustments. Numerous places in the organization. Clearly, no leader can (or should) drive change on their own. It’s an all-play.
Engage your team of changemakers to think with you about ways to drive progress. This post by Morten Hansen from the HBR blog network is a sturdy, well-researched overview of 10 ways to drive change that my juicy-tidbit-seeking colleague Nick Rothenberg shared with me. I suggest you share it with your team. Then invite them to join you for lunch and a really good conversation: What are we already doing? What are we NOT doing? What else could we do? What might that look like? Who will do it? What’s your very first step?
Get help, and you get more heads in the game with you.