If you’re like me you will remember the public information films that we were shown as children. One of them was the ‘Green Cross Code man’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLeK1LKZKiI who magically appeared to children who were about to cross the road unsafely and he taught them how to cross safely. One of the six steps of the Green Cross Code was to look around, to look right and left. You may be now reminiscing and yet also wondering what has that got to do with leadership? Well, this is the third of our ‘Look’ series this month that can help us to review and plan effectively as we lead others when we face something new or tricky that we need to action.
Look right – before stepping
As adults, we have learnt to look right before we step into a road. That is because in the UK we have traffic that drives on the left and so that is the first vehicle we could meet if we step into the road. As a pedestrian, we look for what is danger to life. Looking right when we are planning for improvement is a reminder to look for what is a danger or could sabotage improvement. As a leadership coach, I ask people who meet with me what steps they want to take. I then ask them to consider the things that might sabotage them achieving this. When we consider the sabotage, we can take steps to a) reduce the chance of the sabotage and b) know how we might respond if the sabotage strikes. Looking right allows us to take evasive action or ‘cross in a different space’ to avoid the danger.
Look right – who is my right-hand man or woman?
We have probably all heard the phrase ‘right hand man’. It stems from great military leaders often has second in command assistants who provided valuable help either politically or militarily to the king or emperor. They were known as ‘right hand men’ because they were seen as symbolic of the leader’s might, his sword hand, normally his right hand. Hence ‘right hand man’. We have all seen the films, the ones where the leader turns to their helpful assistant for guidance or advice or for the bidding to be done. The ‘right hand man or woman’ is there to look out for the best interests of the leader.
So, when reviewing or planning, who are those who are your ‘right hand men or women’? Who can help us to deliver the message or the change that is needed? Who are my advocates or as Seth Godin puts it ‘your sneezers’, those who will be infectious with the support and message? When we know who they are we can focus our energy and sharing the message to them. We can be purposeful in making sure they know the message that needs to be delivered.
Look right – encourage them to speak
Leaders can fall prey to their own self-importance if they do not put in structures to protect themselves. The danger of self-importance is that it can lead to narcissism and thinking that they are always right and then end up making mistakes. Having right hand men and women who you trust and who are for you, can be the best asset to protect you from narcissism and mistakes if we ask them to help us. Look right and tell those who are your supporters what you need from them. Give them phrases that will help you if they see you potentially making an error of judgment or if you are missing something. Phrases like:
I want you to do well. There is some insight that might help you make this stronger or from making an error– would you like to hear it?
You know they are for you and want the best for you. They know the purpose you are aiming for. Phrases like this remind you of that and help you as several minds are better than one.
Look right & left – keep looking
The Green Cross code man encouraged us to ‘keep looking’ as we crossed the road. This was to look out for the vehicle suddenly appearing that was not seen before. Good leaders keep looking right and left to see what is coming as they roll out the initiative to improve things. We know that when you bring in improvements, it rarely pans out with beautiful smooth precision. Things do go wrong. So, keep looking and that enables you to respond to the issues.
I worked with a lovely client the other day where we looked at a situation from above and from people’s perspectives. After he had gained a much clearer picture of what needed to improve, one of his actions was to survey those involved. He recognised that he had a better understanding but he didn’t know for certain until he actually asked people their perspective. Looking right, taking time to find out the situation accurately is key to getting the improvement right. Finding out the danger and knowing who is there to help you is a key part of making an improvement work. So give it a try – look right!
Can we help you?
We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore how you to look more fully at a situation to gain better insight then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. If you have a challenge and you would like our support, then do get in contact with us. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email email@example.com if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.