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Do You Have the Capability to Lead Change? 5 more exercises to work out your credibility core

Do you believe in your own capability to deliver change? How will others assess whether they can trust you to work with them to break new ground? If you are lacking confidence or feel others lack confidence in you, then you might need to pay attention to self-trust. Self trust is founded on monitoring and maintaining your capability to lead and proving it with demonstrable results. If you are leading or providing talent support to leaders, then you can help them by giving and facilitating honest feedback and development opportunities.

This is the second of two blogs exploring the components of self-trust and what it takes to build the core muscles in the self-trust group. (The first blog is here.)

Until recently, the post-privatisation, investor-driven culture in energy companies was one of risk-aversion and stability, to the point where some organisations decreed joint ventures not permitted unless majority control was guaranteed. Experimental side-projects, often set up as joint ventures to share the risk, were usually shut down or sold before they delivered value. They weren’t seen as sufficiently important to the future sustainability of the core business to survive leadership rotations, and the spirit of innovation was repeatedly quashed.

The way we do business is changing. The capability to collaborate is a driving force in today’s economy which creates new sources of value and survival by blending diverse know-how across organisations, fast. Thriving in these collaborations demands the capability to detect early signals of disruption and respond with curiosity and openness; to view problems and solutions from a systems perspective and acknowledge we can’t respond alone; to suspend natural tendencies to risk aversion and be ready to experiment and fail; and to replace our need for control with the more humble leadership styles of trust and facilitating the conditions for success.

How else will local authorities, vehicle manufacturers, battery manufacturers, smart-charging manufacturers and installers, energy suppliers (including hydrogen), network companies, government and communities create the solutions required to ensure the country doesn’t come to a standstill when the sale of petrol and diesel car sales ends in 2030?

The degree to which individual leaders are willing to work with one another to solve this type of challenge is dependent, at least in part, on belief in our capability. Our self belief or self confidence to do the job without holding back for fear of failure, and the extent to which others believe we are credible partners because they are aware of our competence and results. Together with integrity and intent, competence and results comprise what Stephen R Covey (2006) calls the first wave of trust: self trust on which the second wave: relationship trust can be built. (See the part 1 blog for more insight in to integrity and intent.)

Achieving this degree of self-trust when faced with multiple forces for change from outside of our zone of competence is no small challenge. The challenge is amplified in an industry which has historically displayed risk aversive, silo-protecting leadership, driven in part by investor expectations of ultra stable utility returns.

But is not just investor driven. Some of these behaviours are wired in to our human brains as automatic survival behaviour to keep us out of danger. It stands to reason that we take less risk if we want to survive so we stick with what we know or what feels safest. Other drivers of behaviour come from our identity BASKET (beliefs, attitudes, skills, knowledge, experience, talents), which whilst unique in every leader, drive behavioural habits that are likely to have drawn us to a particular organisation in the first place or been influenced by working in one organisation for a long time. There is also the possibility that our need for affiliation with others is causing us to behave in line with the prevailing culture even if it doesn’t match our BASKETs well.

With all those odds stacked against us it’s no surprise that there is great variation in the pace that leaders are able to adapt and stay relevant. The good news is there are ways to speed up building or re-building the self-trust muscle. Human Resources functions can really help here, by facilitating evidence-based self awareness for leaders, including good quality 360 feedback that looks beyond business targets at leadership competencies and capabilities. A core set of competencies for any organisation can help drive baseline capability (and culture), but each leader’s capability requirements will be specific to their role at any given time. The key is to help leaders clarify what those are.

The leader’s boss (if they’re not the ultimate boss), in collaboration with Human Resources, can also help by providing organic development opportunities for the leader to address a real business challenges. The important point is to connect the business problem to be solved clearly and explicitly to the capabilities in development and to provide ongoing support through access to relevant learning, mentoring and regular feedback.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have this type of support, or you haven’t yet persuaded your bosses and HR functions to provide it (see point 3 below!), there are some things you can do to build or maintain your capabilities, results and self-trust. As with the ideas in the part 1 blog, I recommend micro-experiments to make incremental improvements:

  1. Know your strengths - create clarity on what your strengths are through demonstrable experience, results and feedback and let others know what they are

  2. Combine your strengths and purpose - prioritise leveraging your strengths in pursuit of your purpose and look for alternative ways to neutralise your weaknesses

  3. Adopt the attitude of personal responsibility - when you detect something is not going to plan ask yourself what you can do about it and don’t leave it to chance. Do the same if you have to reflect on lessons learnt and always ask what you could and will do differently next time

  4. Develop your anticipatory awareness - figure out how you are going to scan the horizon for early signals of disruption and start to explore what it means for your organisation and your leadership capability, and make sure you take action

  5. Commit to lifelong learning - tap in to your growth mindset and prioritise learning as an important and urgent leadership responsibility. Combine it with your anticipatory awareness to pivot rapidly when you sense disruption ahead

If you have found this article interesting, then book your place on our FREE Transforming Change Management Knowledge Pod webinars and Change Cafes being held on the first and last Wednesday of the month from January to April 2021. (Eventbrite link is provided in the calendar above)

Have you been struck?

If you have been struck by the content of this article and would like to partner with us for coaching, consultancy or collaboration contact eva@evalutioncoach.com or david@k3cubed.com