By giving your time and expertise and sharing them freely, the pie gets bigger for everyone. -Keith Ferrazzi
Perhaps eating pie was on my mind when I selected this quote over Thanksgiving weekend in the USA. All kidding aside, it is a powerful concept in leadership whether it be at work, in our communities, or our own home. We know leading with generosity and authenticity is the right path for optimal growth and sustainability, but when we truly inspect our day to day actions, do they communicate to those around us that our mission is to make the pie bigger for all? It is a question that must be answered at the individual level before any external actions are taken. Walking the talk, so to speak, is imperative to co-elevation.
I recently read a book called, Leading Without Authority by Keith Ferrazzi. I was drawn to the book because of two words, co-elevation and porosity. These are powerful concepts that I believe are gifts leaders can give to those around them, not just during the holidays, but every day.
What is co-elevation?
Co-elevation is as it sounds. It is a mutual sense of responsibility to a shared mission or commitment among a group of people or a team. Co-elevation builds on the concept of true collaboration I wrote about recently in The Risks and Rewards of Collaboration. While collaboration literally means to work together with someone else for a special purpose, Co-elevation takes that one step further with the concept of going higher together. Not only will we work together but we will grow the pie for everyone in the process.
But how do we lead without authority in this virtual era we are experiencing?
In a recent interview with Forbes, Ferrazzi outlined effective strategies for co-elevation with a remote team. Here is a summary of his research and findings:
To communicate and collaborate more effectively with remote teams, Ferrazzi recommends leaders put a ‘communication contract’ in place.
- This means, as a team, re-contract on the social operating norms given the virtual nature of today’s work for many of us. Be explicit such as, emails will be returned within 24 hours and text messages are reserved for emergencies.
- For video calls, devote at least 50% of the time to problem-solving collaboratively to avoid a laborious list of updates and reports that stifle engagement.
- The more deliberately and clearly the communication norms are structured, the more successful the remote team will be because collaboration and co-elevation are learned skills.
In relationship to leaders holding team members accountable in a virtual environment, Ferrazzi has a surprising yet refreshing answer, you can’t.
- Given the nature of virtual teams growing in size, scope, and complexity right now, there isn’t enough of you to track accountability. The good news is, it is not effective anyway and a much better approach is to encourage a mutual sense of accountability toward a shared goal.
- If a team member is slacking or falling off the virtual radar, it is the shared responsibility of the group to bring them back into the fold. Ferrazzi uses a process called ‘bulletproofing” which splits teams into groups of three to enhance candor and they report back to the larger group.
With regard to building and strengthening relationships in a remote environment, Ferrazzi recommends using technology in fresh ways that connect humans.
- One idea is to give a virtual tour of the office you are working in to kick off a meeting. Starting a meeting with what Ferrazzi calls a personal-professional check-in is also a way to connect remotely. Have each person share one big thing on their mind personally and professionally as a way to developing empathy and vulnerability when we are not face to face.
- Ferrazzi believes that if we let this time be what it is, we have the potential for an even deeper connection with others in the workplace. For many of us, we are inviting people into our homes virtually every day. Instead of trying to cover up every noise or distraction that announces that you are home, bring it into the conversation gracefully, “that is our new puppy announcing his presence on the other side of the door.”
What is Porosity?
One of the things I loved most about this book was the idea that our teams are not limited to our direct reports or our senior colleagues or even a specific task force. Teams are defined as anyone, internal or external to the organization that is essential to the success of the initiative, whatever that may be at a given time. Co-elevation has the ability to break down silos and transform organizations because it requires expansion of traditional team structures so that success is attainable and passing the buck is buried once and for all.
Porosity is the idea that as a leader you need to manage the availability and accessibility of your team. In order to lead without authority and create a culture of mutual accountability, individuals must be like a porous sponge when it comes to the idea of becoming and remaining open.
Open means we are adept at sharing our mission and the value of it honestly with those around us. We are in service to those we lead and help them achieve their goals to become the person they desire to be. This requires commitment, consistency, and trust. It takes time to generate porosity especially as we expand our teams to include all stakeholders on any given initiative.
The gift of co-elevation is that everyone wins when the pie is bigger for all. In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “All feelings are pure that focus you and raise you up. Anything that makes more of you is right.” And when you dare to do that, you can raise others up with you and help them see more of who they are. What a gift to give those we are blessed enough to lead …
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