Weeknote: S2, Ep8: The right kind of debate and Lent reflections
It was lovely to be able to give a team member a well deserved promotion this week. It’s one of those “makes my job worthwhile” moments. I saw a lot of people “in real life” this week. I met a whole team I’ve only ever interacted with via a screen since I started at Royal Greenwich.
I’m observing Lent this year. Loosely this means I’m thinking about my faith and how it impacts the people around me. Stripping back the religious language, Lent is a period of time we think about our strengths and weaknesses. It’s prompting me to think about how I can get more regular feedback from my teams about how I’m doing. I’m keen that my development goals are, in part, shaped by their experiences of my leadership.
I’ve been thinking about debate in the context of conversations we have at work. Debate is a scary word, but to pretend our “discussions” aren’t packed full of debate is futile. Kim Scott describes debate as a rock tumbler. Contrary to academic debate where the outcome is a win/lose binary, rock tumbler debate is about making shiny pebbles. A collective endeavour to come up with better ideas. There’s so much more generosity in this mental model — different points of views can be welcomed as contributions, not show stoppers, as creative segways, rather than self serving dead ends.
I’m naturally conflict adverse, so I have to show up really intentionally to conversations that are likely to have a lot of different opinions. If I’m taken by surprise, I’m much less able to respond well. By well I mean, staying curious, listening before speaking and staying open to change.
Recruiting is one of the most strategic things I’m doing at the moment. Yet, it always takes me by surprise and I’m squeezing interviews into a week that already feels like an overstuffed suitcase. Time pressure is a primary trigger for unconscious bias — hiring well requires slow thinking. Some quiet time reviewing applications has helped to reduce my overactive amygdala.
Last week we had a collective failure around some of our project governance. This week we changed what we were doing and it was a very different experience. We had a better defined set of expectations for the team and the leaders, the team shared a couple of pre-reads in advance, the session had a clear outcome shaped by the needs of the team, and the style of the meeting was more dialogue, rather presentation and ratification.