The Moment is an uncertain period of time when the path we're travelling is no longer taking us where we need to go, and the new path is yet to be defined. The ability to recognise when The Moment occurs in your team (then do something about it) is critical to leadership success. But how can you achieve this?
There are many types of moment and each requires a different approach. Consider the following examples.
#1 - The Mandatory Moment - This is like your team arriving at a T-junction on the road. You can no longer follow the old path because it no longer exists or it never existed (because the team is brand new). This type of moment can occur when a new team has been created as part of an organisational restructure. Or, the work being done by an existing team may have been moved somewhere else (perhaps outsourced or automated). This is the Mandatory Moment because as a leader, there is little choice but to create a new path.
Mastering the Moment: Pause and make sure you're clear about the desired outcome before you start trying to build a new path. Einstein famously said that if he were given 30 minutes to solve a problem, he would spend the first 25 minutes understanding the problem. I'm with him on this one. You may find you have a few people in your organisation or team 'tooting their horns' pushing you to start building the new path. Hold your ground - they'll thank you later when you don't have to rip up the road is six months (because it was going the wrong way). Also, engage your team early, drawing on their knowledge and expertise. This will ensure that new path is heading in the right direction and that your people are ready, willing and able to build it from the start.
#2 - The Misjudged Moment - This type of team opportunity is much less obvious and is easily missed. The Misjudged Moment is the consequence of many small triggers, none of which appear to have much significance on their own. One of my clients experienced a Misjudged Moment when a key systems specialist left, then an essential piece of software fell out of support by the manufacturer. A short time later, a new piece of legislation required major changes to the outdated system and only the departed systems specialist knew how to change it. When these smaller triggers combined, they created one of those "Oh s#@% moments", in which the organisation realised it wasn't able to comply with regulations and had to sheepishly acknowledge this to the regulator.
Misjudged Moments are like weeds growing across our current path, making it harder and harder to follow. Eventually, they result in the team spending more time trying to clear or fight their way through the weeds, instead of making progress along the path.
Mastering The Moment: Recognise and look for the triggers and take notice when the weeds are starting to sprout. Be willing to start moving from the old path to embrace a new one, even though the existing path looks perfectly fine. This isn't easy. However, it's a lot easier than dealing with consequences of leaving it until it's too late.
#3 - The Mixed-Up Moment - As its name suggests, this refers to a situation in which there is significant misalignment within your team. For example, some members may be experiencing significant change (or believe there is a need for significant change) but other members do not. For instance, this could occur when a restructure leaves four of your leaders in their previous positions but introduces four new leaders into the team.
A similar effect can occur when you become the new leader of an established team. You know how it goes. When we start a new role, we can get pretty excited and often come in ready to forge an exciting new path. As far as we're concerned, this is THE moment. And yet, the existing team may see little need to leave their current path, let alone define and build a new one.
Mastering The Moment: If your team finds itself caught in a Mixed-Up Moment, the first thing to do is get everyone aligned regarding the current situation, what the opportunity is and whether it's one that is worth taking. Developing this kind of shared perspective takes patience and may require several attempts. However, it's time well spent. Otherwise, you risk having not one, but many future paths. If this happens, your people will become confused, waste energy and resources. Most importantly, the new path won't take you or your team where you need to go.
Bringing it all together
Regardless of the type of moment you've encountered, recognising that you are in the moment is always the first step. Remember that no moment lasts forever and without strong leadership, can easily be missed. Perhaps now is the time to do something about it.
I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. Thank you for reading and please remember to share this article with others who may find it valuable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Christiansen is a facilitator, mentor, award-winning author and keynote speaker. She works with leadership teams who have reached an inflection point and need to set a new direction. Kate helps her clients to understand their unique moment of opportunity, define the new path that will create maximum value, then spark positive change, that's powered by the passion of people.