Last summer one of my favorite reads was The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. Another great one by this author is Smarter, Faster, Better. The next two blogs will focus on this book and some of the ways it can help you, whether in the C-Suite or at the bedside.
Steven Covey, voted by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential thinkers of the 20th century, was labeled by some critics as ‘the prophet of the obvious’. One of my clients once called me ‘Captain Obvious’. At least I am in good company.
Interestedly, those that seem to bump up against the obvious are usually those that are not using it.
You will recognize that one of my favorite themes is mastery and domination of the basics. Duhigg reviews these in an orderly fashion as he looks at eight basic areas.
Where does your motivation come from? As a leader, it is essential that you feel as though you can influence your path and open the way for those that follow you. Being able to move rapidly through information and situations and make decisions is key to keeping motivated.
The US Marine Corp has revamped their basic training to assist their recruits to be able to making fast and correct decisions. It has been said that one of the worst mistakes in that branch of the service is to remain static instead of making a decision.
Some key questions for you right now:
1. What area do you feel stuck in at the moment?
2. What are you lacking in order to make a decision?
3. How much information do you generally need, percentage wise, before you feel capable of a good decision?
4. Is the lack of decision slowing down the process so that your motivation is starting to diminish?
5. Is any of your employees in this situation?
I have seen this quite a bit in floor nursing situations. The front line doesn’t feel that they have the power to make decisions, which limits their engagement, which directly impacts their motivation.
This is probably such an overworked topic that you cringed just reading the title. Can you think of a day recently when you haven´t heard that work at least ten times?
Our working definition of team is a group of people working toward a common goal and vision. Sounds simple enough. So what gets in the way, according to this author?
Principally, the top-down leadership of teams that instills fear for making mistakes and punishes failures. The book states “It all comes down to psychological safety, a shared belief held by members of a team that the group is a safe place for taking risks”.
As a leader how do you rate for having that type of environment? If you were to run a formal or informal 360 review of your people, what would they say?
Here are some great questions from the book:
1. Are you encouraging equality in speaking, or rewarding the loudest people?
2. Are you showing you are listening by repeating what people say and replying to questions and thoughts?
3. Are you demonstrating sensitivity by reacting when someone seems upset or flustered?
4. Are you showcasing that sensitivity, so other people will follow your lead?
Now, instead of just reading those questions and going to the next section, could you take a moment and figure out who you are going to ask to give you a grade on those four questions? Will you take that challenge? Remember that drilling down on the small, simple basics is how you dominate a skill.
This theme is getting significant press. Dan Goleman, of emotional intelligence fame, wrote a book by that name. Gary Keller, CEO of Keller Williams real estate has great book called “The One Thing” that blows the myth of multi-tasking out of the water. So why is focus so important?
It seems to allow the brain to concentrate on what it does best. The author tells the story of a pilot who landed a horribly damaged 767 by visualizing the first plane he flew, which was a Cessna 150. Much bigger plane. Same basics.
Where are you making things too complicated?
Where do you focus best?
Why is it that crisis is best managed when a mental model is already in place? Why do nurses practice and practice on a certain procedure before actually being allowed to work on a patient?
Why are flight simulators used? They allow pilots to focus on the hypotheticals before the actual event occurs. What are you doing personally or with your staff that allows them to be in a flight simulator? In the work I do with nursing units, role-plays are the most hated part of the meeting…and the most valuable, not by my opinion, but by the nurses themselves after they suffer through it.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for part two coming soon.