By Kevin Meyer
Have you ever experienced a situation where you're grappling with some new concepts and then multiple unrelated circumstances present themselves to clarify and reinforce the idea or behavior? It can be a bit freaky, if not downright spooky.
It happened to me over the past four days – three completely unrelated events that reinforced the power of self-inventory and reflection as well as the requirement for ongoing group support.
The first event was last Thursday when I held an all-day offsite meeting with my staff. We've been working our way through The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – one of the best leadership teambuilding books I've ever come across. The actual book is a relatively short business novel which we tackled a year or so ago. Over the past several months we've been studying each dysfunction using the accompanying exercise books – about one a quarter which gives us a couple months to practice what we've learned.
First we faced our absence of trust, then our fear of conflict, then our lack of commitment, and then on Thursday our avoidance of accountability. In a couple months we'll work on the final dysfunction, inattention to results. I highly, highly recommend working through this series with even the best leadership teams – we've been amazed with the results in terms of understanding our different styles, behaviors, and being able to openly discuss very difficult and even personal issues. Visitors regularly comment on well our executive leadership team functions. Blown away is probably more accurate.
This latest exercise focused on accountability for individual leadership behaviors that detract from team performance. It's a doozy… as a group we put each team member on a pedestal and publicly, with them present, discuss their positive and negative leadership behavior attributes. Very difficult to do unless you were very successful resolving the "absence of trust" dysfunction. Apparently we did because the exercise was very successful. Imagine – I received feedback that will let me become an even better leader, quickly! How powerful is that – if taken in the spirit in which it was given?
There are two key components of this exercise:
- A reflection and assessment of each of our individual assets and liabilities as leaders.
- A group of people that will constantly reinforce and support our individual efforts to create change.
So now on to the second event: on Friday evening I took a very close friend to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I had never been to one before so I was a bit apprehensive about visiting, especially since I enjoy a glass of fine wine most evenings. This was a "speakers meeting" which has both a short and long presentation by a couple of recovering alcoholics.
It was powerful. As anyone associated with AA knows, a key component of the program is "a searching and fearless moral inventory." The speakers talked about how the key point of their recovering was a period of self-reflection and then the support of the AA group. Both of them had then let their egos get in the way and had stopped going to the groups and had relapsed – then realized that they must become very involved with AA group meetings and support on a very regular and continual basis in order to sustain and improve their fight against the addiction.
So there are two key components of AA:
- A reflection and acceptance of individual assets and liabilities as addicts.
- A group of people that will constantly reinforce and support individual efforts to create change.
Now for the third event: taking a cue from our blog buddy Ron, I'll inject a rare moment of my faith. At church this morning we studied 2nd Timothy chapter 1 where Paul is writing his final letter to Timothy shortly before his execution. As part of the letter and lesson Paul hinted at Timothy's liabilities (young, sickly, timid, overwhelmed) and assets (faith upbringing, mentor, gift of charisma). An external and then internal reflection. Paul goes on to describe the need for stoking the fires of faith together – group support and reflection.
So two key messages from Paul to Timothy are:
- A reflection and acceptance of individual assets and liabilities as servants of faith.
- Keeping the faith requires constant support and reflection by a group.
There you have it. Apparently someone was telling me that this was my week to learn about the importance of truly understanding my personal and leadership assets and liabilities, sometimes from a third party perspective, and then leveraging the power of group support to ensure I'm held accountable to improving my liabilities.
It may take three times, but I got the message, thank you.