Keeping Inspiration Alive after Attending a Conference
Attending a conference or training is often inspiring and thought provoking; the questions is always, “what now?” or “what do I do with these ideas?” The answer is to take one idea, make a plan for operationalizing a behavior, pilot the idea, measure the performance, improve, and then roll-out to a larger group or in a larger way.
As a leader, my passion is cultivating teams that have Superpowers: teams that share a common language to foster understanding, appreciation, and celebration of each team member’s individual strengths. HigherPurpose17 put on by Conscious Capitalism Bay Area really spoke to me and my passion.
The Inspiration I found:
The event had many great speakers, including John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market and Van Jones; but two speakers really brought to the fore critical elements necessary to cultivate a team with Superpowers:
Chinwe Onyeagoro, President of Great Place to Work
Do you check the Forbes 100 Best Places to Work list every year? Great Place to Work is the organization that pulls the data together for that list. Chinwe talked about how the bar is about to be raised for making it onto the list by changing the requirement to be a great place "for all" not just the average employee. This means regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, introversion/extroversion, etc. The prediction is that there will be a shakeup of what we see next year. Chinwe is expecting a baby girl and talked about how she hopes her work will make it possible for her daughter to pursue any dream she may have and find great fulfillment. I think everyone in the room shares that same dream.
Christine gave a great session about how leaders need to create,
for all team members in order for them to be engaged and reach their individual and collective potential. She gave high-level neuroscience techniques for understanding when we or others go into "critter" mode and what to do about it. She has operationalized behaviors that help leaders move themselves and others out of a "critter" state and into an engaged state.
How I am harnessing their message:
The messages from Chinwe and Christine affirmed a process that I have implemented over the years as a leader to create safety, belonging, and mattering for all on my teams. I have done that by operationalizing a focus on strengths which I think of as “Individual Superpowers.” What do I mean to operationalizing? Well it’s often easiest to define by giving an example. Here’s how I have operationalized a strengths-based culture:
1. Every new member who joins my team is “initiated” into the tribe by receiving a Strengths Finder 2.0book and they are asked to take the assessment within the first week and record their top 5 strengths in a shared doc that contains all the team member’s names and corresponding strengths.
2. They then meet in a 1:1 session with a strengths coach* to unpack their strengths.
3. Monthly, we have an “Intro to Strengths” session with the coach to help people further their understanding of the language and how we use strengths as a team.
4. When new teams form, we have a set of sessions with activities that help all the team members learn each other’s strengths and how that translates to the way they work and perform best. The tools people are given include methods for leveraging other people’s strengths.
5. At every off-site or major team event, we reinforce the lessons and language by including an activity around further understanding each other.
6. On a daily basis in our morning stand-ups, we include some kind of activity around strengths; as the team progresses these activities evolve. Here are just two examples:
- Each team member comes up with a saying to share their strengths so everyone learns them; example: “I am an old SAILoR – Significance, Achiever, Input, Learner, Responsibility.”
- Each team member gives a shout-out to another team member for using one of their strength(s) – naming it – in a prior activity the day before.
7. Strength language is emphasized during performance check-in sessions and meetings.
The results of operationalizing these kinds of behaviors are teams that deliver 10x effectively and efficiently as benchmark teams in the same company at the same time with similar missions and ¼ the attrition rates of the company the team is a part of. This is one way I cultivate Superpower Teams.
Superpower Teams need heroes with multiple types of superpowers plus a common language to foster understanding, appreciation and celebration of the differences. To be a Superpower Team the members need to learn how to leverage each other's powers and work together for a higher purpose.
How will you be a hero for your team and what will you do to create safety, belonging, and mattering for all?
* In San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Greg P. Nelson is a great Strengths Coach that I have used.