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Creating a strong learning environment

A current client of mine whose leadership team I’m accompanying through a series of workshops has asked me to facilitate a workshop with the theme of ‘How to challenge ourselves to be even better’. This is a high-performing team yet they recognise that to stay ahead they need to continually challenge themselves to improve. It got me thinking about how we learn for high performance. What are the factors that create a strong learning environment that leads to high performance?

 

  1. Stretch people beyond their comfort zone
  2. Give and seek constructive feedback
  3. Allow for failure
  4. Build observational skills and grow curiosity

Stretch beyond your comfort zone.

This Harvard Business review article by Andy Molinsky  reinforces the need to move out of our comfort zone in order to learn. I especially like Molinsky’s first piece of advice: “Be honest with yourself. When you turned down that opportunity to speak at a big industry conference, was it really because you didn’t have the time, or were you scared to step on a stage and present?”. Continue reading

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Become brilliant by creating space for the team

leadership teamsA couple of days ago I was listening to one of the GB rowing coaches at the Rio Olympics speaking about the process for achieving high levels of performance. One thing he said struck me as incredibly relevant to teams in a business setting. He said that they no longer try to mould each rower into one ‘ideal’ model, but tap into the huge diversity of backgrounds, personalities and talents to create a uniquely brilliant team.

 

I come across many teams who are not tapping into their full potential because they fail to take the time and space to connect, discover more about each other and learn together.

I recently facilitated the second of a series of away-days for a leadership team that has struggled with internal conflict. The most powerful part of the session was when I invited each person to develop and then share their ‘leadership lifeline’.

I gave them a loose framework to use and they then each took a piece of A3 paper and were asked to represent their life so far in words and pictures. The emphasis was on how their life experience had shaped their attitudes and approaches to leadership. After some hesitation, and encouraged by seeing my own lifeline as an example, they spent half an hour individually working on theirs, followed by a session during which they shared the key parts of their life that had shaped their approach to leadership. I was humbled by the level of disclosure and honesty, and the respectful reaction to their colleagues’ stories.

During this short session they built a profound new understanding of each other and increased the level of trust significantly. Later on, they were amazed at how quickly they were able to come to agreement on some quite tricky business issues, something they’d never achieved before. Disclosure is an important factor in Continue reading