What we do in the middle matters, regardless if we are facing an unexpected health diagnosis, a conflict in the work team or a worldwide pandemic. The middle matters and offers opportunities often disguised as inconveniences, frustrations, grief or even a crisis. What we do in the middle; how we treat people and what decisions we make, will determine directly and indirectly how the other side of the challenge looks, feels and functions for our organizations, communities and our teams.
How we lead impacts how others live.
Our team members’ well-being is linked to how you and I lead. Their productivity, ability to leverage their natural strengths and their level of engagement, is influenced by how we show up and by how we model the desired work culture through our everyday conversations and decisions. This can feel heavy and yet as we are authentic and at times even vulnerable, we are given an opportunity to display truly human leadership that builds trust and inspires those we lead. This will not only impact how the middle feels, it will be a powerful influencer on the other side.
We don’t ignore the problem, we just need to look at it from the other side.
-David Cooperrider & Diana Whitney
Let’s create conversations that allow teams to look beyond the current challenge to what is desired on the other side: what we want it to look, feel and function like. Conversations that create hope and emerge a vision that offers a stabilizing goal when we are pushed to pivot like never before in the middle. To do this type of adaptive work we need to create spaces where trust and transparency are not only valued but demonstrated by leadership.
Diminish problems, not people.
This work requires us as leaders to tend to the table with intention so we can collectively do the hard work required to make the transition from the middle to the other side with greater confidence and cohesiveness. Here are some questions to frame up and dig down with your teams to create some concrete responses that may offer a bit more stability and specific direction in the middle, during the transition and when we lead on the other side of this pandemic.
- What processes, policies, programs, team positions from before are serving us well in the middle, and, therefore, we want to bring with us to the other side?
- What processes, policies, programs, team positions from before are we discovering had a place before but are no longer relevant and we need to respectively release or do significant renovation to justify the necessary resources to continue?
In The Middle:
- What do we want the organization/teams/physical space to look, feel and function like on the other side?
- What unexpected discoveries are surfacing that may serve us well on the other side? From client’s perspectives? From team member’s perspectives?
- Where are we seeing processes, policies, programs and people shining in the middle? How can we build on those and carry to the other side?
- What vulnerabilities or gaps have been surfaced in the middle that need to be tended to in order to strengthen the organization and teams now and on the other side?
- How are we allowing team members to leverage strengths so we get the collective lens, the big picture that will surface sustainable solutions and avoid unintended consequences?
- What can we control?
- What can we not control?
- What can we influence and how will we take action to impact those things in ways that lead us towards the desired look, feel and function on the other side?
The Other Side:
- Are their new clients/customers we want to position ourselves to serve?
- What could the service(s) look, feel and function like so they are relevant to the client and aligns with our mission?Could we survey/connect with to include those we desire to serve in the actual development process?
Play and pioneer with these, design questions of your own that are relevant to your industry. What matters is creating a table where crucial conversations can build connection and creativity that will position you and your organization to move beyond surviving to thriving even in the middle.
About the author:
Sandy Anderson, MS
Sandy works with organizations, teams, entrepreneurs, and individuals who are seeking to design their work and life with intention versus settling for a default version.
She serves through organizational consulting, leadership coaching conversations, team development training as well as life coaching, authentic writing, and various speaking platforms. Her work is rooted in research-based strategies and leverages the practical tools she designs for her client’s unique needs to fuel resiliency, relevancy and relationship in how they lead, live and love!