Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The IFB Leadership Model

Guest post from Yvette Bethel:

Within each organization exists an ecosystem that extends beyond its boundaries into the external environment. Some workplaces are more complex than others and without a strategy to shape their cultures the conditions within can be continuously affected by interacting internal and external dynamics. In any organization, leaders have a choice, they can concentrate on urgent short-term goals, or they can equip themselves with the relationship sensing and building skills they need to balance priority tensions.

Because we coexist in unpredictable and ambiguous local and global environments, longevity has been a more pronounced business imperative. One way to achieve it is to facilitate quality relationships that can sustainably and meaningfully connect team members and networks. At a macro level, leaders should also master the skills they need to balance their strategic priorities with the dynamism of their organizational ecosystem. By doing this, they can incrementally transform into an adaptive, responsive establishment.

When leaders aim for authentic balance, they must first become better at keeping their fingers on the pulse of the quality of team and network relationships while simultaneously strengthening them as they achieve corporate goals. Building balanced relationships through trust is at the heart of the IFB Model of leadership. So, the question is, how can leaders lead by using IFB principles?

1. Align with the core value of trust:
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer “In a time marked by turbulence at home and abroad, trust in institutions in the United States crashed, posting the steepest, most dramatic general population decline the Trust Barometer has ever measured.”  With an outcome of this proportion, trust is an increasingly important brand essential. Therefore, once you assess your trust levels, if required you can establish a robust corrective plan because when low trust persists, internal and external stakeholders will undoubtedly detect it.

Trust building requires mastery of integrity, emotional intelligence, and your “we” disposition. Therefore, any organizational core values and policies that are counterproductive to these three trust qualities—like reward systems that stimulate competitive behaviours—should be challenged and actively addressed by IFB decision makers.

Your relationship strengthening solutions should ensure the core values of your organization are compatible with trust. This includes your formal core values and the ones that exist informally, being transmitted through peer pressure, action, or inaction.

2.    Strengthen Your Interconnective Infrastructure:
Strengthening your interconnective infrastructure involves building relationships with members of your team, your internal network of teams, informal relationship clusters, and relationships with people in your external networks. As a leaders, your vision of how you relate should include clarification of the quality of the relationship between your organization and the community it serves.

Each team or network is defined by the quality of its relationships as well as the rules of engagement imposed by policies, procedures, standards, and other less formal cultural norms.  When new members join your team, normative behaviours can shift if there is no accountability to sustainable cultural design. Therefore, as you lead, it’s important to remain attuned to your vision of your culture and interconnective infrastructure so you can take proactive, meaningful steps toward trust-based transformation.

3.  Facilitate Concurrent Flows:
The quality and purpose of relationships within your organization can directly affect a variety of critical flows that impact your results. (E.g. work flows, customer flow patterns, revenue streams, hiring, succession etc.) Unhealthy relationships can hide sub-optimal flow dynamics because personal loyalties or low trust can conceal low performance. Healthy relationships have the potential to build beneficial synergies.

It is important to note that low quality relationships can yield high performing results. In cases like this, performance is driven by tight controls, expressed or unspoken threats, and numerous colleagues in perpetual survival mode. Imagine the capacities leaders can unlock when trust, robust talent development strategies, satisfactory engagement levels, and creativity are prevailing themes.

There are a variety of intricately linked flows within ecosystems, each with their unique intrinsic and extrinsic drivers—like fear, ambition, purposefulness or engagement.  When employees are intrinsically motivated and mutual trust exists between leaders and their team members, policies may be less necessary for healthy flow. In compliance cultures, by their very nature policies are controls designed to limit error making and standardize quality. These tools can have an unobserved outcome of limiting learning opportunities and growth. While establishing policies can create a sense of safety, a well-trained, engaged, and proactive team with increasing capacities can feel even safer.

4.    Balance Continuously:
When transforming your organization into one that operates on the principle of change as a constant, integral part of doing business, balancing activities must be ongoing. This means leaders should intentionally implement incremental transformative actions as well as larger change initiatives—both sequentially and simultaneously. At times decision-makers may consider the projected outcomes of change as ambiguous, and this is okay. Trial and error can work if you have the time, otherwise, you may have to take a calculated risk.

In organizations where leaders are proficient at balancing multiple tensions, they take time to identify priority, short and long-term pressures so they can develop and implement concrete solutions before these tensions become high risks. Mastering balancing skills requires consideration of strategic and cultural tensions so multiple sub-competencies are necessary, like: 1) Building your capacity to attune to and diagnose complex ecosystems; 2) Identifying tensions and the potential consequences and opportunities within them; and 3) Taking measured steps to balance priority tensions while implementing strategic initiatives.

Interconnectivity, Flow, and Balance are three dynamics that occur naturally within active organizations. The IFBSM Model can be used by leaders to strengthen relationship dynamics and by extension, improve performance, creativity and organizational growth. It does this by providing leaders with a powerful lens they can use to perceive new or vexing problems with new eyes. These insights facilitate evolving perspectives which can enrich your decisions and lay the foundation for sustainable success.

About the Author:

Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, an IFB Consulting and Leadership Development company. She is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Coach, Author, and Simulation Producer. She created the proprietary IFB process for transforming organizations from the inside out. She is also a Preferred Partner at Six Seconds, the largest emotional intelligence network in the world. For more information you can contact Yvette at www.ifbcentral.com.

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