Tag Archives: leadership

The Power and Danger of Influence

I’m excited and little anxious about attending The Influencer’s Mantra tomorrow (June 8).  I’m expecting to explore a deep level of understanding within myself, my influences and how that translates into my coaching and consulting.   As I started typing this sentence I had to stop and chuckle about how often I reach into my PSL experiences.  Maybe I should be asking for a referral fee.   Anyway, I remember wanting to learn how to influence people at PSL  because that’s a part of coaching.  I remember how that turned out but I won’t ruin it for those who want to experience it for themselves.

There’s a fine line between influence and manipulation.  The right influence at the right time can lead to the right results.  Or not.  Conversely, the wrong influence at the wrong time can lead to disastrous results.   That’s what I love about this profession.  It’s like an un-solvable puzzle.  I still remember my first AYE being the turning point from “know-it-all-Scrum-guy” to “holy-crap-I-know-nothing” life-long learner guy.

The various Agile/Lean/Kanban/Scrum camps have their opinions and approaches.  I try to be as objective as possible but I know I have my own bias’.  I  find it helpful to state my bias’, as I see them, when working with peers so they have a sense of where I’m coming from and so they can challenge me and keep me honest.   Left to my own devices I’d be converting team rooms into granola packaging plants and we’d all be skipping down the hallway holding hands.  Ok, maybe not that bad, but I strongly align with the Agile value and principles and have a greater focus on systems and people.  I have learned how to suppress that sometimes when a different approach is necessary, mostly because the mistakes I’ve made over the years have taught me many lessons.  Sometimes the people you’re coaching need you to solve their problem before they can learn how to solve it themselves.  Sometimes it’s best for that problem to not be solved at all.

I’m not sure what my point is with this post, perhaps it’s too personal.

I like to capture snapshots of where I’m at mentally and emotionally before experiencing something like The Influencer’s Mantra.  Later on I like to read before and after posts as a way to understand more how my mindset has evolved from the experience.

Influence takes many shapes.  Influence flows through many forms:

  • organizational hierarchy: the guy in power influences everybody
  • power distance index and social status: in some cultures certain people belong to different classes, similar to hierarchy in a company, that social status is respected and the lower class people are influenced by the higher class people.
  • proximity: the guy sitting closest to the managers office can have influence on that manager simply because they see each other more
  • personal relationships: regardless of job title, social status or other factors, establishing trust with people who share your mindset helps spread your influence

I’m influenced by many people in the Agile/Lean/Kanban/Scrum communities and from leaders outside those communities.  I wonder if my attempt to remain objective manifests itself in non-congruent behaviour sometimes.  Perhaps there are times when my language and message isn’t being received well because I’m trying to mix too many different approaches.    I’m excited to see how (or if) my perception of various models, like Satir for example, I use will change after tomorrow.  I’m also excited to see how the archetypes I’ll learn tomorrow mesh with other models and methods I know.

I think I’ve rambled enough, regardless of what happens tomorrow, I’ll know I’ll be more effective as a change agent and I’m looking forward to mixing up those pieces of the puzzle a bit more.

Change Starts with You

I was talking to Johanna Rothman at  PSL this year and I was starting to spin off into space when she pounded her hand on the table and said “Jason! I’m trying to ask you a question!

That got my attention.

I’m a raging introvert so when I won’t shut up, it’s usually about something I’m really passionate about or something I think I know a lot about. One of the objectives I set for myself at PSL was to learn how to be a better listener. I felt I accomplished that, or at least made substantial progress, and rewarded myself with the muzzle award for knowing when to shut up.

I don’t want this post too be too long so I’ll skip the examples where I channelled the image of Johanna pounding her hand on the table to keep me in line. Needless to say, I was more aware of my disposition and sense of knowing when to shut up than I was before.

Over the last few weeks after coming back from Agile 2011, I felt like I ‘gave up‘ a little.  In retrospect, I started to slip back into old habits of telling and not listening which wasn’t really helping me or the people in my life.   Continue reading

Health, Family and Work

Joyce was a firecracker!  She was very passionate about her work and had been with the company for many years.  Sometimes her enthusiasm could be perceived as complaining but it was hard to argue with her work ethic.

One Monday I walked over to her desk to see how things were going because I had heard there was a pretty severe production problem over the weekend.  That was a pretty common occurance and since Joyce had been there so long, she was always getting pulled into these problems.   She had just finished a conversation with her boss.

I could see her standing up behind her desk chair as I walked closer and could see she was using the chair to support herself.  I asked her what was the matter and she said her back was a bit sore, I knew there was something more to it.

I suggested it would be a good idea for her to go home, she didn’t look good and odds are somebody else can figure out what was happening with the production problem.  She said she “had to stay” and wouldn’t be able to rest at home anyway so she was going to stay. Continue reading