This week’s Harvard Business Review stopped me in my tracks. I love to think about the future. And “Future-Proofing” sounds like protecting yourself against something you want to avoid.
What an awful thought.
How then, can you make the future a place of possibility, opportunity and joyful anticipation for your team?
The first thing that comes to mind is Interdependence. I first read about it in Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” but the Center for Creative Leadership applies to the concept of teams, not just individuals. To get there, CCL says, you need Direction, Alignment and Commitment. Those are all fantastic building blocks for the interdependence that can make teams more resilient in the face of uncertainty.
But it’s not always a linear path. To achieve these building blocks, you need other underlying elements, like the mortar that connects the bricks.
Vision: We hear a lot about vision and mission. Remember too, that you need to consistently communicate vision and direction to your team and to other stakeholders in the organization. I handwrite my three quarterly goals every day to make sure that what I’m spending my time on is aligned with those goals. The same holds true for my team. I make sure they know what we’re working towards.
Trust: Two kinds of trust are important. The first is transactional trust. Do you do what you say you will do, and do you hold your team accountable for what they say they will do? The second is relational trust. Do you treat your team as human beings and do you show vulnerability when it’s appropriate?
Commitment: Part of relational trust is being willing to listen to understand, not to respond. When people feel heard, they are more likely to commit to a vision, even if it’s not theirs. Instead of trying to get consensus, go for commitment. That means listen.
Celebrate: Part of alignment is keeping track of success and progress. Stopping to appreciate what you’ve accomplished goes a long way to motivating the team. Instead of rushing to the next thing on the To-Do list, pause to appreciate and recognize the team…and yourself.
The future is full of possibilities. Remember that vision, trust, commitment and celebration go a long way towards building the resilience that will keep you and your team ahead of the 8-ball.