Adrian Gaskell identified 5 ways we get collaboration wrong, it is a good insight into how accepted approaches to leading people can often result in failure. I recently asked a newly formed team to individually describe the finishing line, in essence what would success looks like? They all had significantly different viewpoints of the goal. They needed to start at the end, as Janine Popick describes succinctly in The Importance of Goal Setting they want to know how what they do is meaningful to the company.
It was shortly after that I witnessed the weakness of my start/end approach; I was asked to manage an investigation into what appeared to be a breach of contract by a service provider. I was left gobsmacked when a colleague proceeded to inform the service provider of possible sanctions; in effect here was an example of starting at the end going horrendously wrong! Instead of building a strategy we were creating tension and defensiveness with somebody we needed to be open and forthcoming. How could an approach so successfully applied and proven in the past go so horribly wrong?
The lesson for me here was how being wrong about something teaches you more than being right. When things are going well try to remember these 3 things;
- Getting things right is more important than being right
- Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it will work again
- Sometimes you need to see people practice what you preach to realize you’re wrong.
At her TED talk in 2012 (see below) Margaret Heffernan identified that 85% of executives had concerns with their company that they were afraid to raise, out of fear of the conflict that would ensue. We are often accused of taking the easy route, following previous successful paths is probably the easiest route we can take, where it will take us though is not guaranteed.