All entries for Saturday 21 February 2015

February 21, 2015

Leadership substitution

As the exercise constituent of the substitution of leaders partially relates to my dissertation topic, I was intrigued by the coincidence of ending up being the substitution. Over this exercise all leaders and deputy leaders got to observe two teams and the dynamics of change and adaptability. Nothing in this world is a perfect symmetry and the appreciation of asymmetry is something that we have been able to extensively, if not fully, comprehend thanks to the works of Dr. Deming on variation. This is exactly why the 8 people changing position within four different teams cannot possibly know everything there is to know about the teams. Based on permutation and combination it would take various combinations to actually experience all teams with all possible structure. But they did not get that opportunity as it is practically unviable and no one in the real world is that darn lucky to actually be given such an opportunity. The leaders and the deputy leaders had to work with what they had.

Based on the rules of the simulation I was the deputy leader of one team for two quarters and the leader of one for the next 4 quarters. Before the lunch break when it was announced that the deputy leaders had been promoted to leaders, even though the full situation was not communicated as part of the simulation, I had already started planning. I was under the impression that I would be leading my own group and that did not really impact my thought process. I knew what had to be done and I was now behind the steering wheel. This gave me room for zero excuses to justify the loss of learning opportunities if there was any. As I went in a task-focus, I went on with my plan and my team had quite some success. During the feedback when I asked for areas for improvement, my team members said that even though it did not apply in the simulation, in the real world it would be essential to a change that the new leader communicates with the team to bond with them and align the goals for a successful change process. This made me realise that during the change of leaders, where I had a lot going in my mind, I had over looked the fact that the new team was already in a state of shock and frenzy.

The change of leadership brings with it so many aspects that are really hard to address all at a time especially considering the situation. The best possible way to deal with that, which I did unintentionally and found very useful, was to enter the organisation as a blank sheet of paper and asking the team members to reflect their past performance, decisions made and their impact on the performance. This will not only update the leader on the statistics but will also bring out from the team members something that, as humans, they cannot hold back: THEIR OPINION.

February 2015

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