To Action: Stage Combat - Whose Instinct Are You Relying On?
Bret Yount is a professional Stage Combat Teacher who has done work for many big name productions throughout the UK. He’s also worked with acting superstars, one of which is Benedict Cumberbatch on the 2019 London National Theatre production of Hamlet.
In a promo for that performance (video below), Bret describes how he helped the actors build in the right tension, emotion and realism into their performance. Methods such as aligning the beats with the script (to capture the emotion), and then choreographing off-beat strikes to build in realism.
But one key phrase stood out from the video. When discussing how to ensure the fights retained their dynamism, Bret says this:
“…because they’re the ones that have to do it every night, you know. We talked about keeping it fresh and… …When they’ve helped create it, and I’ve given structure to their ideas, it’s so much easier for them to play. Because it’s their instinct, rather than mine.”
It’s a beautiful description of the work that we, as Change Leaders, must do to build sustainable momentum, continuous improvement and ongoing growth.
Ultimately, as Change Leaders, we are not usually the do-ers.
We are the shapers.
We are the guides.
So, over the coming week - here’s a challenge for you.
Exercise a little trust.
Modify just one process to run more on your team’s instinct than your own.
And if you’re interested, here’s the video:
To Ponder: Dissonant Decisions
This week, one my advisory clients received one the most bureaucratic decisions from ‘down the line’ that I’ve heard in a long time.
This client is leading a project to resolve several key public-facing system vulnerabilities. However, he needed a decision on whether his proposed 12 month plan was acceptable, or if it would need to be accelerated.
And here’s the response this client received from higher up the executive structure:
“You have provisional approval to stop work”.
Which, after deciphering the bureau-speak (aka BS), translates to:
“Please stop all work while we determine whether or not you should accelerate the work”.
How’s that for cognitive dissonance?
So, here’s here’s your Change Leadership takeaway.
Take stock of your own decisions over the past week. Was there any accidental cognitive dissonance in your own decision making?
…and if there was, find a way to resolve that dissonance today.
To Reflect: The ‘Deadly 7’ Key Fears
When I talk about momentum and empowerment with my clients, the conversation so often ends up at the fears that hold their staff back.
So this week, here’s a quick summary of the 7 key fears that I see most often.
I call them the ‘Deadly 7’.
A FEAR OF BEING CUT DOWN (TALL POPPY) - Something that is particularly prevalent in my home country of Australia: Tall Poppy Syndrome. This is the levelling derision of anyone who thinks they should stand higher than everyone else. A Tall Poppy culture makes people afraid to stand tall and succeed.
A FEAR OF MEANINGLESS WORK - Anyone that has worked in a large, bureaucratic organisation likely knows the feeling all too well. Putting a lot of time and effort into something only to have it ignored, shelved and forgotten.
A FEAR OF INSUFFICIENT SKILL - i.e. a fear of not being skilled enough to succeed. If an individual doesn’t feel they are ‘good enough’ then that individual won’t expose themselves to change for risk of failure.
A FEAR OF BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF - Interestingly, the opposite to insufficient skill is also a catalyst for a fear – a fear of being taken advantage of. Anyone who is high in skill but low in assertiveness is particularly at risk here. When someone is scared of being taken advantage of, they will often hide their talent, doing just enough to get by.
A FEAR OF BREAKING NORMS - This fear is firmly rooted in your organisational culture. In short, your cultural status quo is a worthy adversary for any innovative mind. If the status quo is one that is risk adverse, or one that doesn’t promote honest and open discussion, then your team(s) are unlikely to challenge ideas or overtly drive improvement for fear of being labelled the ‘weird one’.
A FEAR OF EMBARRASSMENT - No one likes being embarrassed, so they will avoid situations that place them at risk of being so. Anyone with an over-active feeling of imposter syndrome likely harbours this fear.
A FEAR OF PERSONAL NON-ALIGNMENT - A more modern, social media-driven phenomenon. This fear is at play when someone holds themselves back because they are concerned that it’s ‘not one of their passions’. After all, who wants to put extra effort into something that isn’t ‘speaking to them personally’? Even worse, what if you’re genuinely talented at ‘boring work’… does that mean that you are also boring?
Which of the Deadly 7 are you personally confronting on a day to day basis?
And which plague your teams?
There’s hope though. Fear can be countered through the normalisation of success, failure, reflection and learning.
Brendon Baker on the PM for the Masses podcast!
Cesar mentioned to me after the podcast that he expected to release the episode very soon, so watch this space. I’ll keep you all updated when it releases.
It’s so easy to scan these emails, take a few points and then just hit delete.
I know that, because I do the same with others.
But I will ask, if there’s any ideas that jump out at you this week - hit that little heart button.
I’m continually working on growing the readership of The Change Leader Weekly - so please do share it on to someone you consider a Change Leader.
Have a fabulous weekend. See you next week.