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  • Mark@McCatty.com

    Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI through daily leadership and team development practices. Mark McCatty, Inc - Leadership & Team Advisor

    Getting Teams Moving

    I was called in to work with an existing team. This team was a highly-motivated team working in a manufacturing environment. The management structure wanted teams. Well, they wanted people to take accountability and manage the process. So, management supported the team effort. And the hourly employees were hired on with the expectation that they would be working in teams to manage their daily production [and related] activities. The problem was that…well, there was little observable productivity coming from these teams.

    John Maxwell, in his book on the laws of leadership, talks about the law of The Big Mo – Momentum is a leader’s best friend. All leaders will face a challenge when they try to start [or change] a process. No matter how much everyone wants to change, there are natural drivers against change. We are plagued with inertia.

    And change means changing the direction of the existing inertia. Both the managers and their teams were faced with the challenge to push against inertia.

    I learned the power of inertia when I learned to snowboard. I am a “gray on tray” since I am an older man on a snowboard. I take that moniker as a complement. I can still board with the younger set, although I do not jump as high, or as long. I transitioned from ski to snowboard when I realized that if I was to spend any time with my kids I would have to board. My kids and their friends all board and there are many places that skis just will not go. So, I decided to take up boarding. My kids volunteered to teach me!    

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    Well, boarding was not nearly as easy as it looked. I spent a lot of time sitting down…hard. After several hours on the bunny slope trying to learn, falling, and watching little kids [I’m talking toddler little] slip by on their boards, I decided to get off the bunny slopes and give it a go. I found out that it is much easier to keep from falling when I was moving. But I would still fall far more frequently than I wanted. So, I consulted with an expert. I was riding the lift with another boarder. He was a young kid and he looked like he was good. So, I asked him, “I’m an old guy and I want to learn to snowboard. What’s the secret?” His answer was so simple. He said, “You have to lose your fear of falling. You can only board when you are moving. The faster you move, the more control you have and the less likely you will fall. Good luck!” I went to the store and bought me padded pants, wrist braces and a helmet. Then, I went back out a rode. I picked it up very quickly from that point.

    Two things I learned About Mo

    Point 1] It takes momentum [forward motion] to steer and be in control. When there is little movement it is hard to be in control. People are frustrated with the slow pace and are anxious to do something. Many times, they end up doing the wrong thing; like complain and fight with others. Leaders need to get some quick wins. They need to arrange some results-focused activities that teams can accomplish. Teams need to start with small projects to get small wins. This forward motion will allow proper steering and make it easier to keep things going in the right direction.

    Point 2] Gaining forward momentum is hard to start, but it is even harder to stop! Trying to get moving from a dead stop is hard. But once there is fast forward movement, it is very difficult to stop. Momentum will never sustain itself. Ask any snowboarder stuck on the flat catwalks between mountains. It ain’t fun. And the wise leader will accept responsibility for directing momentum. Eleanor Doon said, “You cannot kindle a fire in any other heart until it is burning within your own.”

    So, my work with the manufacturing team started with clarifying the direction that everyone wanted to go in. Both management and the employee teams had the same desire. I led the leadership to create a compelling vision for their organization. The teams aligned with this shared vision and they began in small ways to take control of their process. We increased visibility of their metrics and engaged the team in managing them. The good news is that they gained momentum. Together, they began to move forward and in the direction of their goals.

    Leadership is about understanding that people are stuck with a tendency for inattentiveness and towards inertia [status quo]. Leaders raise the level of awareness. Leaders cause teams to have a higher level of focus. And smart advisors go with the good intent and natural inertia that exists. The make it easier to do what’s right and more difficult to do what’s wrong. Smart snowboarders learn and apply these same lessons.

    Mark McCatty - Leadership & Team Advisor

    McCatty.com

    Improving Leadership ROI

     

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    As a leadership and team advisor, I have helped numerous organizations, through speaker presentations, group training, and individual coaching, to meet the challenge of creating engaging and purposeful work environments. 

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