systems

8 questions you can ask yourself so you don't drive others crazy

Systems are to serve people instead of people serving systems.  How can we get backwards on why systems exist?

I'm always afraid that I'll become a leader who protects the system more than people.  So I ask myself these questions:

1.  Do I believe in the branding or do I believe in engagement?

2.  Do I see the work being done in someone or do I only measure the work they've done?

3.  Can I receive ideas from people who are proven faithful?

4.  Am I creating rules for all in response to one failure?

5.  Am I creating a system for everyone else so that I can do less?

6.  When there is a new opportunity, do I listen to all the facts or do I make preconceived assumptions in order to protect the system?

7.  Am I fighting for control?

8.  Do I need to be right?

What questions do you use to fight the system?  Or what questions do you use to keep yourself from hanging on to systems that are no longer needed?  Please comment below!

Destroying the system: Part 3

Quick review: Part 1- Instead of constantly blaming people for a lack of success look to where the system is breaking down. Be willing to let go of the system more than you're willing to let go of people.

Part 2- Look to your team for answers. Let those closest to the work re-create systems around their own gifts and strengths.

Part three is where the fear can really creep in for leaders. This third step is the most critical and will determine if you are able to keep people long term on your team: choose a launch date and trust. When you have your most invested people around the table and they have come up with a new way to do something, as the leader you have to say, "On (this specific date) we are changing the way we work." If you drag this out nothing will take the wind out of your teams' sail more than you allowing them to give feedback and invest their time but never allowing them to act. Let your people run with it. As a leader, your role becomes checking in with key people and giving feedback or small tweaks.

The people you lead are dying to be trusted. Almost as much as they are dying to be recognized. But more than anything they are dying to be a part of something that truly matters. And guess what? If they create it, it will matter to them! Move into the role of servant leadership and equip others to lead well. Support those who want to lead and give them the resources they need to change the system. Be, as Jim Collins in "Good to Great" defines, a level five leader. When their is success, give the team the credit. When there is failure, take personal responsibility.

Do these three steps and you will see people re-energized, engaged, and more productive.

Destroying the system: part 2

Quick review: The first part to destroying the system is to recognize where the process is failing instead of blaming people. The second part is one of the more difficult steps, especially if the leader has a low level of emotional intelligence because it requires vulnerability and accepting that "I" (The leader at the top) might not have the best answer.  If you want to do the best for people you lead it helps to ask them what's best for them.  I love that Andy Stanley, a church leader of Northpoint Community in Atlanta says the first rule in their constitution is, "The people we use are more important than the system we choose."  Let me repeat that, "The People we use are more important than the systems we choose."

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The problems with systems is that they can become a wall to people (which we choose them instead of people), it becomes something that they can't get past.  But a wall comes down a lot faster with multiple people trying to bringing it down instead of you trying to bring it down on your own.  The people you lead want to knock down the wall!  They have been nodding their head at you when you speak about why the wall was put up for their own good but they have secretly been holding a sledge hammer behind them the whole time.

But I bet you've never asked them, you've never been the first to say, "I think this wall (system) is holding us back, what do you think?"  When a system is created to help management we call it a policy.  When a system is created to empower people we call it a mission. Until the people around you feel like they have an equal amount of input as you have, you will continue to manage people who really want to lead everyone else past the wall.

So what's the second step to destroying a system? Seek input from those most involved, ask great questions, and allow creative solutions. 

There is still one more part we have to discuss on Friday because if you don't do this last step the exit door to your team will be wide open!

Destroying the System: Part 1

Today's post is going to kick off a week long discussion around when a leader recognizes that a system is no longer working.  Eventually every system will become obsolete, even the very best systems will eventually encounter a death.  Leaders have two options: 1.  To go down with the ship or 2. To call for change. Tupac knew what I'm talking about:

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So what is a leader to do when they know a system is becoming more of a barrier than something that enables people?

Leaders have to recognize that most failures are breakdowns in process and not people failures!

Dan E. Gerber in the E-Myth Enterprise notes that relationally based enterprises are the worst at this.  Relational enterprises run on the myth that they must hire "the right" person for the job.  So when something fails, "the right person" becomes the wrong person, this creates a constant cycle of people in a position.  The relational enterprise lacks the awareness to see that the process is actually broken, not that they can't find "the right" person.

Step one to destroy the system is to stop blaming people and start evaluating where the process is breaking down.  The first step is critical, seek the place where the process is breaking down and decide to kill the current process.  Do not make the mistake that many do and turn the process into the golden calf.  Be prepared to melt that gold calf down and in it's rawest form you'll find the principles that have always made the team successful.  Return to those principles and build a new system based on the resources and tools you currently have.