This month, the leadership biography, by Victoria Yates, is on Caroline Lucas, who has been hugely influential in shaping the "Green" political agenda in the UK and Europe. She is the UK's only Green Party MP, having actually increased her majority at the recent General Election. Even if that isn't your political persuasion, she's an accomplished leader and her story is well worth reading.
The featured article is "7 Steps for Leaders to Deliver results as a Team" byAlexander Maasik. This is an important yet easy-to-follow checklist of things we should all do (and often forget).
We also have a book review of Patricia Lustig's on "Strategic Foresight". If you focus on potential, possible futures, and what you might learn from them, you rekindle your sense of wonder and love of possibility; you uncover energy for change. Patricia lays out helpful tools and processes to do this, based on her extensive experience across several industries.
7 Steps for Leaders to Deliver Results as a Team - Alexander Maasik
As a leader it's your job to create an environment where people can meet their potential. Moreover, It's your job to keep the team heading in the right direction.
Most of us have our own superiors and what matters most to them is delivering results and meeting goals. Setting goals is not enough to actually get there. So, how can a leader or manager do all of these things without compromising the work environment within a team?
On the basis of our customer case studies and different successful leadership methodologies we compiled the 7 steps which will guarantee success as a team.
Looking at the big picture and goals
It is absolutely vital that everyone on your team understands the bigger picture and their role in reaching the objective. People with goals tend to achieve 10 times as much as people with no goals.
To make sure your team knows what's going on, set company goals and metrics with which to measure them. Secondly, find a place or a forum to share this knowledge. Thirdly, align the company goal with each member of the team. Even the act of writing down a goal increases the odds of achieving it.
Assigning tasks according to each team member's strengths
In order for your team members to be happy and most productive, it's essential to concentrate on their strengths. According to the Gallup survey, employees are 61% more engaged if their managers focuses on their strengths. In addition, people feel good doing tasks that they are good at and most importantly they perform better. Make sure you know your team's strengths and give tasks accordingly.
Sharing and generating ideas
Teams are known to achieve better chemistry and results if there is a way to share ideas. You need to implement a suitable brainstorming format to generate ideas within your team. There is a lot of different formats out there to choose from.
The benefits of brainstorming are better ideas, quicker problem solving and evolution as a team. Also, you'll need an idea bank where everyone can contribute. Idea banks can result in process, operations and product innovation.
Increasing engagement by implementing methodologies
One of the key parts of achieving your goals is a system that helps to keep the work process going. I already emphasized the importance of goals and the best methodology for that is Objectives and Key Results - OKRs. It is used by the likes of Google, LinkedIN and Zynga. Using a goal setting and tracking method helps the people to start moving towards important goals instead of doing small unimportant tasks. Employees also love it because of its clarity and the knowledge of what's expected from them.
Secondly, I you can try out the Problems, Plans and Progress - PPP methodology. It is used by Skype and it helps to enhance team collaboration and keeps everyone informed. It also helps to clarify what needs to be done in order to achieve a certain goal.
Constantly improving the work process
Using PPP methodology helps to bring out the flaws and problems of your team's work process. In order to achieve the results as efficiently as possible, it is critical to make improvements in your work-flow. As a leader, it is good to check in regularly to see how everybody is doing and if they need a push to get over the hump. This can be done in a online status update format or just by talking to your team members individually.
All of the methodologies and goal setting techniques are tools to help the team achieve better results, but we have to remember that we are dealing with humans. People are emotional beings and although setting goals and giving tasks according to their strengths increases the odds of success, it doesn't mean you should not motivate them as well. The best time to encourage your team is in the beginning and in the last part of the process. People tend to get stuck and in order for them to finish their task, it is good to reinforce the knowledge that they are moving in the right direction and that they are a vital part of the outcome.
Giving feedback and recognition
The last part is the emotional side of delivering results and there is one thing leaders shouldn't forget. Give your team members feedback and recognition.
These two elements are known to motivate people more than money. In addition, regular feedback makes your people twice as happy and makes sure they are engaged.
To conclude, setting and sharing goals with your team is a good starting point for delivering the results needed. Make sure you have implemented the suitable work process for your team and urge everybody to make improvements.
As a leader, you can provide the necessary tools, but in the end it is the team that delivers the results. So, make sure you motivate them by giving feedback and encourage them if needed. Following these 7 steps should guarantee a successful outcome. Be the best leader you can be and share this knowledge with your team.
Alexander Maasik is a communication specialist and content creator at Weekdone - weekly employee progress reports. Alexander has a degree in journalism and public relations and a strong passion for internal communications and online collaboration.
Quotes - Caroline Lucas
"There are some politicians who are able to be activists at the same time and I would aspire to put myself in that category"
"Politics is about everything we do from the moment we get up in the morning to the minute we go to bed at night. It's something everybody and anybody can be involved in."
"Women have come a long way but there is still such a way to go, especially in Parliament, which does not reflect the society it represents."
"Strategic Foresight", by Patricia Lustig. Book Review by Mick Yates
To quote the author: "You can't influence the past - it has happened. You can perhaps learn from it, but too much focus on the past leads to feelings of helplessness precisely because you can't change what has already happened. If you focus on potential, possible futures, and what you might learn from them, you rekindle your sense of wonder and love of possibility; you uncover energy for change."
That is the key premise of this readable and practical book by Patricia Lustig,"Strategic Foresight". Patricia suggest that there are 3 basic tenets in how we should think about Strategic Foresight
First, it is action-oriented. We should be actively working to shape and bring about a potential future or set of futures that we have identified as something we want to see happen. Purely analytical studies of possible futures are called "Futures Studies" and are not what is meant by "foresight".
Second, Strategic Foresight is open to alternative futures: that is, we work with several futures because we can't predict the future - and it most certainly won't be an extrapolation from the past. The future can of course evolve in different directions, and the idea is to determine which are possible, which are probable, and from that we can figure out what we can best influence.
Third, it is participatory. While individuals can apply the principles of Strategic Foresight to their personal "future", if a larger group or organisation is involved, the practice of Strategic Foresight must include ALL stakeholders. A broad range of people must work together to build and co-create the future. They must have "skin in the game", in order to define the best choices to base decisions on. Successful Strategic Foresight is thus totally multidisciplinary in nature.
"A common boardroom feeling is that never before have we needed 'more hindsight sooner'. Couple that with the increasingly common feeling that the tried and tested approaches to strategy formulation are no longer enough. They still work - as far as they go - but they need to be supplemented with additional tools for looking ahead further than has become the norm, and with more intellectual rigour. This book shows us a way of doing that." Sir David Brown, Engineer and Industrialist
The book lays out the needed set of skills and tools used to explore potential futures. It looks at how we must think about the future, and especially how we deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. It introduces a simple model of preferred thinking styles and explores the "baggage" and values that form our perceptions.
The models, tools and maps are designed to guide users in developing their own, personal Strategic Foresight and then use this knowledge to make team decisions. The aim is to turn this future-focused creativity into real and sustainable competitive advantage.
Other sections include how to identify emerging trends: what impact they may have on your business; the strategic importance of early recognition; and how to apply the knowledge in your business. Case studies are interspersed throughout the book
Patricia pulls it all together by showing how to develop a practical method of exploring potential futures in the context of your existing business to help you work towards your preferred future.
Strategic Foresight can be found on Amazon Patricia Lustig is a talented practitioner in Strategic Foresight and strategy development, future thinking and innovation. She has held senior advisory positions and led OD teams at major blue-chip companies such as BP, Motorola and Logica. She was a Programme Director at Management Centre Europe working in the In-Company division (designing and running In-Company bespoke programmes), a Visiting Executive Fellow at Henley Business School and CIPD Faculty for Scenario Planning and Foresight.
Caroline Lucas by Victoria Yates
Caroline Lucas was born on the 9th of December 1960 in Malvern, Worcestershire. Her parents, Peter and Valerie Lucas, were middle-class Conservatives with her father running a small central heating company.
Lucas was educated at Malvern Girls' College before going on to study English Literature at the University of Exeter. Lucas had been involved in activism from a young age, and while at university she was a frequent visitor to the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, a heavily attended female encampment set up to protest the decision to allow nuclear weapons to be based there. Lucas also became involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament more widely, and served as an activist in the Snowball Campaign that acted against US military bases in the UK.
After her graduation in 1983, Lucas was given a scholarship to study at the University of Kansas from 1983-84 before taking a diploma in journalism and finally returning to Exeter to complete a PhD in Elizabethan Literature. In 1989, when she graduated, Lucas went on to work as a press officer for Oxfam, a role she held for the next three years. She continued to work for Oxfam in different capacities for the next decade.
Lucas's involvement with the Green Party began during her postgraduate days in 1986. While still studying, Lucas served as the Party's National Press Officer from 1987-89 and then as Co-Chair from 1989 until the party amicably separated into three political parties in 1990. At that point Lucas joined the Green Party of England and Wales. She went on to serve in different roles including General Election Speaker and Party Regional Council Member.
In 1991 Lucas married Richard Le Quesne Savage, and the couple went on to have two sons together.
Two years later, in 1993, Lucas ran for a seat on the Oxfordshire County Council. It was her first electoral success and also only the second council seat in the UK for the Green Party. Lucas served in the role for the next four years.
In the 1999 elections, the first by proportional representation, Lucas became a Member of the European Parliament for the South East England Region. She was re-elected in both the 2004 and 2009 elections. Over that period the Green Party's share of the vote rose from 7.4% to 11.6%.
While at the European Parliament ,Lucas worked on numerous committees including those for industry, consumer policy, the environment, and climate change. Lucas was active in many areas of policy and governance, proving herself to be a passionate and versatile politician.
After the 2005 general election the Green Party candidate, Keith Taylor, won the highest vote in the Brighton Pavilion constituency (22%). Lucas declared her intention to stand as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for that constituency. In her letter to the party, Lucas underscored her intention only to stand if she won the internal selection by more than 10%. It was a difficult decision for Lucas for family reasons but also because it challenged Taylor, someone for whom she had an immense respect. In July 2007, Lucas won the selection of the Brighton Green Party with 55% of the vote compared to Taylor's 45%.
Lucas's career only continued to gain momentum from there. In 2008 she was elected as the Green Party's first leader with more than 90% of the vote.
The win was swiftly followed by her election as the Green Party's first ever MP in the 2010 General Election. She increased her majority in the 2015 Election.
After two years at the Green Party helm, Lucas announced she would be standing down in 2012 to "broaden opportunities for the range of talent in the party and to raise the profiles of others aspiring to election."
Besides her posts, Lucas has never shied away from tackling a divisive or controversial issue she believes in. For example, she threw her weight behind the campaigners of the Smash EDO campaign, and opposed the continued use of page three girls (topless models) in papers like The Sun. In 2013, the latter spilled over into the Commons when she wore a t-shirt with the logo "No More Page Three" to a debate. Lucas was reprimanded for transgressing the dress code.
In 2013 Lucas was also arrested for taking part in a nonviolent protest against the Cuadrilla Resources fracking operation. Afterwards, Lucas was charged with obstructing a public highway but was found not guilty.
Alongside her actions Lucas has written a large number of reports, articles and books on the areas she passionately campaigns on. Among her work is "Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto". This was co-authored with Mike Woddin and focuses on localisation of economies and greater social and environmental responsibility. In 2015, Lucas published a book on her time as the first Green MP titled "Honourable Friends: Parliament and the Fight for Change."
Her work has earned her numerous accolades. Among these is her 2006 Michael Kay Award for outstanding contribution to European animal welfare. She is frequently listed on "influence" tables, including coming top ten in the New Statesmen Person of the Year Award, 2006, and placing in The Guardian's 2008 "50 people who could save the planet."
Throughout her career, Lucas has been a vocal and progressive activist for causes she staunchly believes. Many see her as the powerhouse behind the Green Party's rise into the public consciousness in the UK. Beyond her political leadership role, she has continues to be a force that shapes and incites national debate.