In part one of this two part blog series, we shared details of our work with leaders using the Everything DiSC Work of Leaders (WOL) framework and assessment and we promised to share a second case study that also produced some important results for the participating team.
According to the authors of “The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability,” 80% of employees feel inadequate when it comes to delivering results for which their leaders have told them they’re accountable. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that only 47% of leaders report having a clear understanding of what building alignment means. (Straw et al The Work of Leaders.)
Case Study 2: An HR Team’s Aha Moment
An HR team with whom we had previously worked asked us to facilitate a follow up session. This “intact team” was particularly interested in how best to leverage its strengths and address its leadership challenges. Prior to the session, members who had not taken the full DISC WOL were asked to do so. For those members who had previously completed their DISC profile were given a supplementary questionnaire to obtain their WOL results.
AJO’s facilitator and executive coach, Linda Bodnar, introduced the WOL Model (see graphic below) and the group created an aggregated version of their results to explore the team’s collective strengths and leadership challenges and how this might impact its work. The group also identified its priorities using an “urgent/important” matrix.
During the last part of the team session, the group identified five key opportunity areas to focus on and created action plans for successful team performance in the future. They found that three of these five areas were strongly related to leadership competencies in which the group was collectively weak, based on the WOL (e.g., Boldness driver under Crafting a Vision and Clarity driver under Building Alignment).
Without the WOL, they might have chosen different and less impactful areas for action planning, and also might not have fully understood why the team was underperforming in these areas. The WOL session allowed the team to target its action plans by reflecting on needs identified through the WOL and then putting into place best practice leadership competencies to become a more highly effective team.
What We Learned:
Linda Bodnar, AJO’s facilitator, shared the following perspectives. The DiSC Work of Leaders:
- Works especially well with intact teams who come together for the specific purpose of strengthening working relationships and looking to enhance overall team performance.
- Works especially well when everyone has leadership roles/responsibilities versus narrowly defined individual contributor roles.
- Has right answers. Unlike other assessments (including other DiSC profiles), the WOL does have right answers! The WOL focuses on how your tendencies influence your effectiveness in specific leadership situations, rather than facilitating an understanding of differences between individuals. In other words, the behaviors on the top end of each scale are leadership best practices.
As Linda explained, “It’s important for leaders to remain open when creating a vision. So while seeking closure may be important in certain leadership situations, it’s not when crafting a vision. The WOL helps leaders identify where they can leverage their natural strengths and where they may need to take a different approach as they take on the fundamental work of leaders – creating a Vision; building Alignment around that vision and championing the Execution of the vision”
- Hickman, C., Smith, T., & Connors, R. (2010). The Oz Principal: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability. Penguin Press. Originally published in 1994, this book offers practical and invaluable advice that illustrated how important personal and organizational accountability is for a company to achieve and maintain its best results.
- Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2012). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations 2012. Jossey-Bass.
- McChesney, C; Covey, S; & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. 2012. Free Press – A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc. Additional resources, including video and blog can be found here.
- Montgomery, C. (2013). The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs. HarperCollins. Montgomery is the Timken Professor of Business Administration and former head of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School. Based on her renowned strategy course at Harvard, The Strategist offers a radically new perspective on a leader’s most vital role.
- Straw, J., Davis, B., Scullard, M., & Kukkonen, S. (2013). The Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment, and Execution Will Change the Way You Lead. John Wiley & Sons.
- Yokoyama , J & Michelli, J. (2004). When Fish Fly. Hyperion. The magic of the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market offers a dynamic example of what a group of people can create when they are aligned and living a powerful vision.
- Why Accountability? From the authors of the OZ Principle, this link includes a video clip and resources on the subject of accountability.
- Cuddy, A.J.C., Kohut, M., & Neffinger, J. Connect Then Lead. Harvard Business Review, July/August 2013.
- Folkman, J. The Six ways to Inspire & Motivate Top Performance (visionary and execution are in the top four). Forbes, May 2013.
- Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. To Lead, Create a Shared Vision. Harvard Business Review, January 2009.
- Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. The Truth About Leadership The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know. Business Book Review, 2010 by Jossey-Bass.