Process Leadership

Do you feel like you're always operating out of chaos, running around, trying to get stuff done all the time in your daily life, or do you tend to lead yourself well through the processes that you need to do and therefore feel like you're in control?


Hi, this is Grant Herbert, VUCA Leadership and Sustainable Performance Coach, and today, I want to continue our conversation around the shifts that we need to make to operate as a leader in the VUCA world by unpacking the second area of our VUCA shift, and that is in our process or our professional leadership.


So, last week we started the journey by talking about our personal leadership. We understand that leadership is about who I'm being. It's not a set of things that I do. Leadership is about a set of character traits of who you are, not just a set of skills that you need to learn when you're in a management position and you want to get other people to do what you want them to do.


We talked about the fact that there were three areas where we needed to make mindset and behavioural adjustments or shifts so that we could be the leader in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world that we now operate in.


So this week, I want to unpack three areas that we need to make, these shifts in our process leadership. A process, or depending on what area you work in, your professional area of leadership is all about getting stuff done in the time that we've got to do it with the resources that we have and in amongst everything else that we've got going on.


So, whether you are talking about this in the context of your work, your career, your business, or in your entire life, I want to make sure that you understand that these shifts are critical for everyone. Not just those who we think are the leaders. I believe that everybody's a leader, and we talked about that last week, that it starts with leading self.


So, let me take you through and help you understand what these three areas are. And then in coming weeks, we'll unpack some of these based on your feedback, and I'll give you some help as to what you can do next. The three areas of process or professional leadership that I want to talk to you about are your performance, your positioning, and your productivity.


When I think of performance, I like to think of cars. For many years I was involved with a race team. I loved cars. I started my career as an automotive engineer. I pulled my car apart on the weekend, just because I knew how it worked. And I know my mom would look at me, she'd go, "What are you doing that for?" And I go, "Well, 'cause I can." And I was just fascinated by that.


These days, as I've matured, cars are not as important to me. However, I love watching a high performance vehicle do its thing. I love to watch a high performance vehicle not only do its thing, but I love to watch pit crews. And I love to watch how the leadership of a race team can be then put into leadership as a metaphor for what it is that I teach in the VUCA leadership programs that I run.


In performance, I love thinking about a car because it helps me to realise that, just like a car, I need to have some certain things to make sure that I can perform at the highest level.


The first thing is that I need to have a well-put together car that's maintained well. I need to have great fuel in it without impurities, and I need to have great tires. I need to have a great pit crew who understand things that I don't need to about the car, and I go to when I need to get those sorts of things fixed. And I need to understand that if my car is not running to its optimum level that I'm not going to get the performance out of it that it was created to give me.


Then that in itself is a great metaphor for us to look at our own performance. If we don't put the right stuff in, if we don't get the tune-ups that we need, if we don't have a pit crew around us, we're not going to be able to perform at the level that we want to perform.


Now, the second thing I want to talk about with performance is that there's been this misunderstanding around the term "high performance". And one of my greatest coaches and mentors over the last few years, Brendon Burchard, he runs the High Performance Academy and I read a great book of his called High Performance Habits. And in that, he gave me some distinctions around performance that were in line with, aligned with how I was thinking.


Because for years, this high performance thing has become hustle and grind. "Let's get as much done as we can. Let's work from daylight until dark so that we get all this stuff done." And that's a challenge because operating a race car at that high level for long periods of time, it's going to reduce the performance and it's the same with us.


So, that's why I call myself a sustainable performance coach and performance needs to be looked at that way. How do I operate so that I not only get done what I need to get done, I can do that over the long period? And as things change in this volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, VUCA world that we're talking about, I'm able to make those shifts without it burning me out.


So, in this area, we need to make a shift from going from low performance to high performance, but we need to be able to do it in a way that's sustainable.


The second area that we need to make shifts in in our professional, in our process leadership is in our positioning. Now, what I'm talking about here is as a leader, we need to place ourselves not always at the front, not always being the one that's got all the answers, that's doing everything, that's making all the decisions.


We need to position ourselves so that we can allow others to come along on the journey with us and position ourselves in a way that we're able to sustain that performance. I know for years I would say things that were not helping like, "Oh, look, I've just get it done myself." It's a lot easier for me to just put my head down, my tail up, and work hard and everything will fall into place, rather than looking at how I can harness the collective ideas and the collective efforts to get these things done.


So to do that, we need to position ourselves as a leader who is not one that blends in, but one that stands out, however, stands out for the right reasons. I know in my military career, my early corporate career, most of my corporate career, I was one of those leaders that stood out, but I stood out because I wanted to prove myself. I stood out for the wrong reasons.


I stood out because I created problems all the time. I created challenges. I've created conflict. I had a low self-worth, low self-image. I therefore tried to prove myself and I worked too hard on doing that, and that created some challenges. What I'm talking about here is standing out as someone who is someone I want to follow. Standing out as someone who is vulnerable, someone who knows they don't have all the answers and they also value my input. So, the second key area is positioning.


The third area that we make our shifts in to operate in professional or process leadership in the VUCA world is in our productivity. And our productivity is not a dirty word. It's not something that only a few can get right. It's not about making lists, and it's not about all those things that we learnt last century that served us well then. It's about getting to a position of leveraged efficiency.


If we can get more out of our race car without needing to invest more in it, if we're able to drive it in a way that our fuel is going to last longer, then we need to do less pit stops, therefore we do better times, then we win the race. So, productivity is all about going from being in chaos to getting back into control.


So to do that, there are three areas that I teach. Now, firstly, before you can take advantage of these areas, you need to unlearn something that you, like me, probably learnt in 20th century leadership and that is this thing called time management. I place it up there with work-life-balance. They're things that never worked anyway, and they're definitely not going to work now.


Work-life-balance is a myth. It assumes that work and life as separate and time management assumes that we can actually control time. We can wind the clock back. We can get more than 24 hours in a day and that's not something that we're able to do. So instead, there are three things that I teach in the area of productivity, and we might unpack some of these in coming weeks, but I just want to give them to you now.


These are things that you can control when you have the right mindset and the right capabilities and the right competencies are being built. And we've been talking about lots of these over the weeks and weeks that we've been together having this conversation during this Beyond COVID-19 series that I'm doing.


So, the first area that we can control is our priority management. Now, when we have a set of clear priorities and we know what's important, by the way, important to us, important to the entire overall big picture, not important to our self-talk, our unhealthy inner dialogue that says, "Oh, look, if I get that done, they'll like me", and that approval-driven priority, but our true priorities that come out of who we are, out of our purpose.


When we manage our day, our week, our year around those priorities, then what we achieve will be aligned with what our purpose is and what it is that we're trying to achieve overall.


The second area is environment management. We live in a world of distraction. People go out to a restaurant and they're on their phone while they're eating and they're conversing with each other. And I know I'm guilty of this. I'll be watching a movie on TV with my wife, but I'm checking Facebook at the same time. This creates brain switching. The brain is not designed to multitask. So, we need to make sure that we control our environment and an untidy desk, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, is not a sign of genius. It's a sign of a lack of organisation.


Having an environment that has creative colours in it, that is clean, has a calmness about it, creating an environment that allows you to actually have some time on your own to get some stuff done and have some time that scheduled with others, rather than being reactionary all the time. And having that open door policy that says, "I'm a leader that allows my people to just come and talk to me when they need to." That doesn't help you, and it definitely doesn't help them. So, the second area is environment.


And then the third area is energy management. When we operate out of high performance in a sustainable way, when we look after our brain, our body, when we hydrate, when we'd get the sleep we need all those things. When we are working on the true priorities in a way that keeps us congruent with who we are, when our environment is such that we can find things when we need to, we are not distracted, we actually end up having enough bandwidth, as I like to call it, enough energy to sustain ourselves and get the things done that we need to get done. We also are able to do it in a way that creates greater results in the individual tasks and projects that we're doing.


So, that's the three areas that I chunked down in when I'm working on productivity. And productivity, as I said, it's not about just having lists and getting stuff done. It's about leverage efficiency. So, there are the three areas that we make shifts in our thinking and in our behaviour to be the VUCA leader who can lead a process and operate and have capabilities in their professional area.


Well, that's it from me for another week. Join me again next week, when we unpack the third area of shift in our VUCA shift program and that is the area of people leadership.


People leadership's not where it starts. We've now built a platform and you're ready to go to that next level. So, join me again next week, when we continue our conversation around VUCA leadership and how we can operate, not just in COVID times, beyond COVID-19 in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world that we now operate in. I'll see you then.

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