Fail small, early and often is critical with mystery projects. Great lessons are learned when small experiments are used in the beginning. If your first wow idea doesn't have some issues, it really wasn't much wow. What could that look like?
For example, you gather a small group of leaders from multiple levels, and put them through a half-day Scenario Planning activity (contact us for more info). Ask them to paint four possible futures for improved leadership then create a prioritized initiative list as an outcome. You have had concerns that the leaders would not contribute equally, and many might go silent as the higher-ups take over. Here's some things you learned:
- Breaking into smaller diverse teams to tell these stories created a safe practice field.
- People were very willing to contribute, once roles were clear. It was important to let the team pick the leader and let the leader pick the scribe.
- People can say harsh things that others in the room might interpret as hurtful and will need to think of more ways to keep everyone safe as they grow.
- Getting back to participants with how the data was used built more trust, and the absence of feedback broke trust.
- Leverage tools for awareness - we use the Trimetrix HD Coaching Report and our own OD Survey 360 Assessment.
- Coaching is very useful to provoke leadership.
- Everyone must clearly define the leadership role(s) the same way. (Check out our May newsletter to learn more about defining a Job)
- Opportunities to do real work in a safe practice field as you learn
- Build community - have trusted others who are going through this journey with you
- Establish group norms and rules
- One and done won't work - how will you sustain leadership growth beyond a training event?
- Identify the real differences between levels of leadership and create specific projects to allow people to build the competencies they need. For example, allow senior leaders to report out to board meetings, not just the C Level executive.
- Continually measure how the leaders feel they are doing, and how their people think they are doing. In one of our large IT Leadership programs, I measured how many people were promoted from our cohorts to show that the goal of leadership growth was being met.
- Ask your leaders about scalability and how they are growing their ability to lead through others.
Think of watching a group of small children play soccer. Notice the difference between teams where the coach is yelling what to do at every player all the time, and the coach who is letting the team make mistakes so they learn to play together. For your organization, when the mystery of leadership is solved it creates engagement, teams, dignity and growth.