I went site visiting this week. I always enjoy visiting any of our sites. My model is simple. I meet people. I listen. And I leave inspired. And that was exactly how my visit last week played out. I learned about history and transformation. I learned about today and anticipation. I learned about future and ambition.
My philosophy – such as it is – on communication is to do as much as possible by as many different means possible. We are all different in terms of sorts of information we like to get and means by which we like receiving that information. On my visit last week we tried something different. Everyone was invited to an informal question and answer session where we could talk about anything and everything. We had a great turn out…and an even better set of questions.
I loved this session. I loved not knowing what I was going to be asked or what we may end up talking about. I even loved being told that one of my responses didn’t answer the question! But most of all I loved the opportunity to interact in a different and more personal way with more colleagues.
As I was travelling back home I found myself thinking about organisation layers…probably for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was that question about what I did each day? Maybe it was just wondering about whether any of the ideas or suggestions I had offered were of value?
I remembered something my very first boss said to me. Not only was this the first piece of leadership advice I can remember, but it was also the first obvious sporting analogy I can recall hearing. Any successful team needs a captain on the pitch. A coach on the side-lines. And a manager in the stands or upper deck. I can’t quite recall the scenario in which I was being given these words or wisdom. So I will assume it was positive.
The point really was that each of these three individuals will have a very different view of what is going on. The team leader is in the thick of the action and has to make immediate tactical decisions for themselves and for the rest of the team. The coach on the sidelines has a wider view of what is happening. What the team is facing and challenges they have to overcome. From the sidelines, the coach can make bigger tactical and strategic decisions about how the team should advance, position, or focus their efforts to succeed.
And of course the manager in the stands has an ‘oversight’ view. A much bigger picture. The manager can see emerging opportunities or problems that (literally) are not apparent to either the captain or to the coach. The manager will likely make only a few suggestions or contributions, but these will be significant and strategic.
Any team we are on or that we see operating will have a team leader. A pivotal role. But to be successful we absolutely need the input and insight from one or two observers who have a different and more distant view of events as they unfold. These views can often be based on increased experience as well as expanded vision.
But I know that what I value most in any interaction on any scenario is a view that differs from mine. Momentarily it is good if everyone or anyone agrees with what I suggest or propose. But it is better – and much more fun – if someone has a different view…instinctively or objectively…and is willing to debate. It’s engaging. And engaging is inspiring.