Expert Interview Series: Geoff Watts of Inspect and Adapt About Leadership and Self-Organising Teams

December 18th, 2016 Published by Geoff Watts

I was recently approached by intelligent leadership and corporate culture authority, John Mattone, to be part of his ‘Expert Interview’ series. We talked leadership development and self-organising teams. Here are his first few questions:

Why did you name your leadership development company “Inspect and Adapt?”

We operate in a complicated and ever-changing world, where what was relevant last year may not be applicable today. Leaders who flourish (and products that succeed) are those that recognize this reality and have the discipline to continuously improve. The best way to improve – be it a product, a process, or ourselves – is to regularly inspect what we are doing, how we are doing it, and what is happening around us and then adapt accordingly.

Inspect and Adapt seemed an appropriate name for a company that is built around helping leaders, teams, and organizations grow from good to great by doing just that.

What are some of the main problems that your clients are bringing to you regarding their career paths?

Interestingly, the most common problem that clients are bringing to me is that the skills they acquired to help them succeed in the past are no longer working as well for them now. Historically, products were largely built in a waterfall manner, going through a number of phased delivery gates from requirements gathering through to analysis and design, and then development, testing and eventually delivery.

Nowadays, though, it is rare that we have the luxury of time or the ability to predict the future well enough to indulge ourselves in that process; and so organizations are adopting a more “agile” way of delivering which requires regular delivery of increments of value, short batches of delivery, and feedback. This more agile way of working requires a completely different leadership style and engagement model – one that encourages people to proactively engage as members of highly collaborative teams. This is a hard adjustment for many, since it often requires people to change deep-seated (sometimes even subconscious) habits.

Since you try to help clients “master the traits that trap them,” could you tell us precisely what that means?

What I mean by this is that our strengths can easily become our weaknesses. Here’s an example: many leaders happily define themselves as “a bit of a perfectionist.” After all, perfectionism as a trait has a number of advantages that many leaders have used successfully over their careers to help them achieve success. For instance, being “a bit of a perfectionist” might help leaders develop a reputation of quality and integrity, as perfectionists tend to set high standards for themselves and those around them. Holding themselves and others accountable often yields great results, typically at a fast pace.

However, this same perfectionism can be overdone so that the very trait that helped them become successful can suddenly start holding them back. Too much perfectionism can lead to burnout and to procrastination. At the same time, when team members feel daunted by the high standards that are being set by a perfectionist leader, it can hinder their creativity and level of engagement.

When I’m helping admitted perfectionists master the traits that trap them, I don’t ask them to stop being perfectionists, but instead encourage them to bring that trait back into balance and to harness the positive effects while limiting the harmful aspects.

Interestingly, the most common trait that traps people is what has become known as the “impostor syndrome.” In fact, studies have shown that up to 70% of people have experienced this feeling at some point in their careers. People with an overdone impostor syndrome tend to feel like frauds, as if they have gotten to where they are primarily based on circumstance, luck, and other people’s contributions. People who feel like imposters rarely give themselves credit for their own positive qualities or successes; they genuinely believe that any day now they will be “found out.”

I would want to emphasize the positive aspects of this trait – most notably, humility and a strong sense of diligence and hard work – while encouraging them to internalize their successes to help mitigate the more negative consequences, including a chronic anxiety caused by insecurity and a lack of self-confidence that would accompany this misconception.


Read my full interview with John here >> http://j.mp/2gYM6zw

December 18th, 2016 Published by

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