What is the data that people focus leaders see instantly and most leadership teams are sorely blind to? How do leadership teams get that perspective and information into their meetings so better decisions can be made? In Part 2, Jim and Margot share some stories of how real leaders and teams are succeeding with improving the disturbing imbalance of information in most leadership meetings.
What you’ll learn:
Jim [00:00:04] Welcome to The OrgHealth Podcast: conversations about organizational health. I'm Jim Brown.
Margot [00:00:10] And I'm Margot Thompson. We're consultants and coaches to leaders who are creating healthy organizations.
Jim [00:00:15] We talk about leading at the executive level. Not just the key points, the highlights; we like to go deeper.
Margot [00:00:22] Under the surface. We like to talk about what isn't obvious—
Jim [00:00:26] —And maybe what isn't comfortable!
Margot [00:00:28] Right. And we come at these things with very different viewpoints. Easy, because Jim and I are very, very different from each other.
Jim [00:00:35] That's true. But the good news is we've worked together long enough that we see our differences as strengths.
Margot [00:00:41] In fact, they actually allow us to create more health in our team and the teams that we help. And we're going to do some of that right now.
Jim [00:00:57] So we've been talking about analysis focused people and people focused leaders. Let's, let's talk about the fact that there is a tool that we use to help us figure that out with the teams that we work with. And we would encourage teams to be using that tool. The tool is what?
Margot [00:01:17] It's the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
Jim [00:01:19] Great. So using the language from Myers Briggs, what does that, that system, that tool call the analysis focused leaders?
Margot [00:01:30] Thinking.
Jim [00:01:31] And we shorten that to the T.
Margot [00:01:34] Correct.
Jim [00:01:35] And for the people focused leaders, they are?
Margot [00:01:38] Feeling.
Jim [00:01:38] Feeling, and F. So, as we continue in our conversation, we're going to sometimes be interchanging the terminology. We might be talking about analysis focused leaders. We might say they are the Ts, they are the thinkers. It all means the same thing. Let's also just caution that it shouldn't be seen as labels. Thinkers are not the people who think and never feel and feelers are not the people who feel but never think. It really just as a categorizing title.
Margot [00:02:14] Absolutely. So there is a leader that I've been coaching who's been struggling with some of this stuff.
Jim [00:02:20] Sure.
Margot [00:02:21] He is very, very thinking oriented. And as a result, he's very "heads down”. He's very much focused on getting things done. He's great at his job, but he's been struggling because the people that he works with—his direct reports, his peers—aren't really feeling that he is connecting with them in any way. And what that's done is eroded this—the personal sense, the connection sense within the entire leadership team and within the team underneath him. That's been a real struggle for him, he's had peers talking to him about how much that's affected them. He's had direct reports talking to him about how they've been affected by it. And the CEO of the company has talked to him about how that is not necessarily the way that it fits in the culture of the company. So it can be as simple as just shifting how you're dealing with your people. I know that he was really worried about having to emote, having to express his emotions. And it doesn't even have to be that complicated. You can start with just asking questions. Instead of saying, "Here's, here are the facts," you can move to, "I'm pretty sure that you have some questions. Tell me what they are." Encouraging other people to give you feedback, to give you questions, to ask you something...
Jim [00:03:47] So let's dig in more specifically.
Margot [00:03:50] Sure.
Jim [00:03:51] Because. Most people—sadly, in all levels of leadership—they just spew out, here's everything you need to know. And then they have this classic final statement. “Are there any questions?”
Margot [00:04:07] Right.
Jim [00:04:08] And then they're surprised that there are no questions. It's almost like they think that means they are such brilliant communicators that there is nothing that could be misunderstood about these instructions. But… but what do we know is true?
Margot [00:04:25] Well, the shift for this leader was that if he already acknowledged that there was going to be a question, and that he was sure that it would be understandable—if, in fact, he expected them to have questions, that actually they were asking questions. And that led to him being able to give them more of the "why" around what he was directing them to do. And even in some cases, possibly some of the "how". But it definitely encouraged communication between this leader and the people he was dealing with, whether it was at a peer level or his direct report team.
Jim [00:04:59] And the truth is, people always have questions. We just don't always hear them because, one, we might have talked for so long that people are just sick of sitting there and they want to get on with their job, so let's not drag this out any longer. People often think that if you ask questions that infers that you didn't get it and you must be thick-headed, so that makes them look bad. Or three, it infers that you were a poor communicator and that makes you look bad, which makes them feel bad. So... It is not to be—it's not a win to ask a question when it's cued up that way.
Margot [00:05:37] Right.
Jim [00:05:38] Say again how you suggested that this leader pose that question.
Margot [00:05:45] "I'm sure you have questions. What can I tell you?"
Jim [00:05:48] Beautiful, so it makes it totally safe to have questions and it puts now the onus on them to just call it because I want to help you. What can I tell you?
Margot [00:06:01] And it was pretty painless for the leader. It wasn't the intense emotional piece that he might have been expecting of having to communicate with his people, which was a place of discomfort for him.
Jim [00:06:11] Great. Not rocket science.
Margot [00:06:14] Exactly.
Jim [00:06:16] Yeah, that's great. So. So here's another scenario. You've got a team where, we're sitting together in a difficult conversation to try to come to a conclusion, a decision and the people are quick to land on an answer because the facts make it look like this. However, there is a people focused leader sitting at the table who has other data, other things coming to mind. What's some of that data?
Margot [00:06:50] The big question is how is it going to impact the people on the team in the organization? So what is this going to look like for Susie in accounting? What is this going to look like for the, the team in operations? What is this going to look like, how is it going to impact them? Often thinking leaders are looking at: what's the bottom line and how is it going to affect our process?
Jim [00:07:16] Sure.
Margot [00:07:17] Feeling leaders are much more likely to be looking at: how is it going to affect and impact the people who are using that process?
Jim [00:07:25] Good. And then I remember that you've spoken about also "how does this align with the values that we have as a company?" And that lens is especially apparent to people focused leaders. We think as analysis focused leaders that, oh, of course we are clear about our vision, vision, our mission, our values, but we sometimes... fail to notice that directions that we are pursuing actually are contradicting some values.
Margot [00:08:03] The truth, in my mind, is that if the values and the mission aren't truly bought into by the people in the organization that it's only aspirational, it's not a real culture to begin with. You cannot get buy-in from people within the organization without an atmosphere or without a foundation of trust; that starts at the leadership team level. So the leadership team needs to trust the CEO. The management team needs to trust the leaders. The employees need to trust the management team. And you can't build that trust if people feel that they're not being valued and that they're not being listened to or heard.
Jim [00:08:48] I hope that none of the people listening doubt that. But let's also say again, the, the analysis focused leaders believe it, but they are not really noticing it. Whereas the people focus leaders, they can't not see whether that's working or not.
Margot [00:09:09] And this is where a leadership team would be well served to mine for those pieces. If they have a people focused leader, an F leader at the table, they should be asking that leader, what do you see? What should we be aware of?
Jim [00:09:26] Good. What about if they don't? Like, let's... I don't think it's gonna be that uncommon and certainly not from the teams that we've worked with. It’s not that uncommon for teams to be entirely T thinkers, analysis focused leaders. What would you suggest that they do if that's their reality? How do they, how do they bring that perspective in?
Margot [00:09:53] I think there are a variety of ways in that it depends on the organization and the circumstances and exactly what that looks like. If it's completely a non feeling team, there are options. First of all, becoming aware. Self-awareness is a really big key here. Like being aware that you're seeing things through a certain lens and that there is another lens to look through. So developing well, like, we're all on a spectrum with this whole thinking and feeling thing. It's not like all—one side of people are all feeling in the other side of people are all thinking. We're all somewhere on the spectrum. So you can develop your feelings side and you can develop a lens through which to look at things differently. Also, there are definitely going to be people in the organization who can offer that kind of perspective.
Jim [00:10:46] Because they're wired that way.
Margot [00:10:47] Correct. Correct. And you can tap those people.
Jim [00:10:50] Right. I think that that's a crucial strategy for leadership teams. Of course, they should be working at increasing their ability to process it from that other preference, but they're not going to really know if they've done that well, unless they have some real Fs in the room in the conversation. And I'm not saying they sit in the room the whole time. I'm saying, okay, now we're trying to just consider this solution, this pathway. Let's get a few people focused leaders in our organization to come and react and comment on this. And the more we can find people that we just deeply value and trust, even before that conversation, the further that's going to go.
Margot [00:11:43] Well, you and I have worked with a CEO who is very strongly on the thinking side of the spectrum and who recognize that within himself and who developed a trusting relationship with and tapped the H.R. director so that that person could bring forward some of these pieces. The key here is that he actually wants the perspective and is asking for it.
Jim [00:12:09] Yeah. Sometimes it feels like teams are trying, trying, trying. But they're just not getting better. And what comes to my mind is that kind of famous saying from Jim Collins: get the right people on the bus.
Margot [00:12:23] Right.
Jim [00:12:24] I want to come at it differently. I want to awkwardly say... Get the wrong people off the bus. And what I mean by this is sometimes we have people sitting around the table who just won't accept that other preference. "This is how I am. This is how I always been. This has worked for me. I ain’t changin’." And my encouragement would be if you've got someone on your team that is intractable in that regard you probably should be moving them out. And now that you've got an open seat, you probably should be moving someone in that actually brings a natural wiring of strength and experience and confidence, bringing a people focused perspective to the conversation. What a huge transformation would happen if you made that change. I'm not saying try to fire some people. I'm saying if people are not really fitting in, bringing this value of both thinking and feeling into the conversation, then you may have to make some changes to the team.
Margot [00:13:42] Right, because here's the thing. If you don't have both perspectives, you're missing out on something really important. Growing that is part of becoming a healthy organization: making sure that you have both perspectives, that you're tapping both perspectives, that you're respecting and valuing what both perspectives have to bring is what makes you a healthy organization.
Jim [00:14:06] You remind me again of that Harvard Business Review article that had looked at companies that had strong cultures that were very people focused actually yielded 756, I think, was the number: 756% higher returns than the companies in the data set that did not have that focus.
Margot [00:14:32] Right.
Jim [00:14:33] So there's hard numbers that demonstrate that a focus on the soft stuff actually pays off.
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