Six Mistakes I Have Made

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Six Mistakes I Have Made Learnings from leadership engagements 30-Mar-2015 Erik Korsvik Ostergaard, Partner, Bloch&Ostergaard I/S Because going to work should be nice, great, and awesome

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2 Learn from my mistakes This slide deck covers some of the many mistakes I have made when working with leadership in general, and with UNBOSS in particular. Mistakes contain opportunities for feedback, and I try to grasp everyone of them with that in mind. Sometimes you win; sometimes you learn. © Erik Korsvik Ostergaard 2015, but please distribute and reuse All pictures are from Unsplash

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*) specifically for UNBOSS

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Too much Mistake no. 1 Initiating everything at the same time, being too ambitious

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Too much Sometimes you get eager and engage in too many activities and elements at the same time. Maybe the situation really does call both for the introduction of purpose, for focus on empowerment, as well as for situational leadership – but in some cases it’s simply way too much for the organisation to comprehend and grasp at once. You are performing organisational changes. You are dealing with years and years of habits and culture. Changes take time, and if you change too much too fast, the organisation will drown in it, and it will backfire. You need to introduce the elements one by one, giving the employees and organisation time to change those habits one by one. Try to find the one or two elements, that are most requested or needed, or gives the best effect. After seeing the effect, inspect and apply the next element.

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Too impatient Mistake no. 2 Giving up too soon, not allowing the organisation to let it sink in and actually benefit from it

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Too impatient You got the bright idea. You got the support from management to engage. And you have launched your leadership programme, just as you designed it … But the effect is missing or only slowly showing in a few places. It’s easy to be impatient, disappointed and frustrated. You made a commitment to the management group, and now the blame-game and explanations start. Either you or the management group thinks about cancelling the project in order to minimise the lost investment or to avoid to lose face. Maybe you are right – or maybe you did initiate the wrong things, and it is time to adjust approach. Or, maybe it’s just because changes take time. Revisit the business case and the reasoning for engagement, and reassure yourself (and the management group) that you’re doing the right thing. Perform some employee interviews to see how the initiatives are received. Use the feedback as input for communication, mentoring and re-training. Leadership programmes take between 3 and 24 months to create effect. Be patient.

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Too rigid Mistake no. 3 Assuming that one size fits all, and that your ideas are perfect and cannot benefit from adjustment

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Too rigid You designed it – so naturally it is perfect(!) Now you can actually make two mistakes in one: A: Not understanding that each employee needs adapted, situational leadership, based on the approach that you designed B: Not being open to general adjustments and development to the leadership programme Regarding A: The seasoned leader understands and masters the skill of adapting leadership style to the colleague, he/she is working with. You’ll be making a mistake, if you’re too rigid and cannot tailor the model for the sake of your colleague. Situational leadership is the key here. Regarding B: You must be open to general input and adjustments to the leadership programme and approach. You should invite to feedback sessions on regularly basis, while the organisation is embracing it. Inspect and adapt. Don’t be rigid.

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Too fluffy Mistake no. 4 Not translating the idea, direction and emotion to daily pragmatic actions

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Too fluffy Talking about the reason for change, about the business case, and about the desired future state is a naturally first step in a transformation process, but often it seems quite fluffy because you actually don’t really know how it will work in daily life. However, you’ll be making a mistake if you keep being fluffy and avoid the more detailed translation into daily life, and your organisation looses faith in the why. Maybe you actually don’t know how it looks in daily life, but then involve the employees and co-create it. The translation is the second step.

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Too local Mistake no. 5 Avoiding to involve and train your peers and your manager

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Too local So, you are developing your team, department or business unit. You engage and train them, and you start to see the effect: Changed behaviour, new kind of transparency, new ways of working, and so. Slowly your peers and your manager starts noticing the development, and they start questioning you, your approach, and your motives. Your management and your peers may even loose trust in you, an then your project soon will be dead. Involve and train your peers and your manager, so they are informed and aware of your actions – and your motives. You want them to be curious and supportive, not impediments. Remember to share your thoughts, results, and learnings with them. Manage upwards too. Don’t be too local.

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Too literal *) Mistake no. 6 Taking UNBOSS to literal, actually non-bossing instead *) specifically for UNBOSS

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Too literal This mistake applies specifically to UNBOSS. UNBOSS is about avoiding to be the old fashioned, tough boss with all the answers and all the power. UNBOSS is about purpose, involvement, and empowerment. About rallying for a cause and giving the employees the mandate, letting them make decisions. You’ll make a mistake if you take it too literal and disclaim the accountability too, acting as if there is no boss, leaving it all up to the employees. You are still the boss. You just do it in a modern, people-friendly way. If you take it too literal, you will feel it within a few weeks. The shared purpose and direction starts to fade. The joint collaboration erodes. The employees start to get anxious about whether they perform well enough. Be the boss. Be accountable, but be people-friendly. Don’t be too literal.

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16 Learn from my mistakes These are my mistakes. Now go make your own.

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Bloch&Ostergaard I/S Because going to work should be nice, great, and awesome 17 Erik Korsvik Ostergaard, Partner, Bloch&Ostergaard I/S @ErikQstergaard erik@blochoestergaard.dk