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Directing: High Task Focus, Low Relationship FocusKelly Scott PetrockAugust 2009General Systems Consulting • www. LeadInstitute • firstname.lastname@example.org 1Directing“Hey, can you please help me ﬁnd…” Ever been lost or directional y chal enged? When is the last time you asked someone for directions? By the time we ask for directions we have admitted that we don’t have the ability, knowledge or experi-ence to get where we want to go (low ability). I don’t know about you, but when I’m asking for di-During our Leadership Skil & Style Development rections I’m also typical y dealing with some icky program (LSSD), participants discuss and deﬁne the affect: anxious, apprehensive, stressed, etc. I am boundary conditions for effective direction giving. certainly NOT feeling conﬁdent, or assured (low wil ingness). DirectionDirDo / BeCareful Not to Do / BeAt the time of our asking for directions we are hav-ing a pristine Fol ower Readiness Level 1(one)* Ex-Prepared & organized Wing it.technical y/procedural y.perience. What we need at that moment is some-Be inconsistent in any way Clear and concise(do as I say, not as I do)one familiar with the area and wil ing to help.AccessibleLeave R1 to sort it out on Alert- R1 fol owers may their own.struggle a long time before Help, what does help look like to the person having asking for directions.Assume their knowledge or understandingan R1 moment? At this level of readiness the lost Check frequently for under-standingBe vague or non committalperson or fol ower may require some good Direc-Keep it simpleOverwhelm, get off on tan-tion. The fol ower needs the leader help to sufﬁ-gents, prove how much you Use visuals / diagramsknowciently; clarify, deﬁne, establish, develop, prescribe, Break activity down into Be condescending, abrasive smal est partsor abruptcontrol/govern and instruct them in the areas of; Provide clear milestones Criticalgoals, objectives, expectations, standards, processes, which al ow fol ower to self check progress.Intrusivemeasures, roles and consequences. This is a very Praise and afﬁrm even the Too involved or focused on R1’s affect.Task focused application of help / leadership. The smal est progress or ap-proximationhigh task focus can help the fol ower become clearer, less anxious and feel more secure i.e., ready * See earlier article on FollowerReadiness. to learn and move on. General Systems Consulting • www. LeadInstitute.com • email@example.com 1Before a leader can begin to provide effective direc-When smart fol owers persist in unproductive tion they have to set the table for success. Leaders’ practices leaders must look at the consequences. It that either don’t have or use clear goals, with clear is total y possible that a fol ower may experience standards, effective measures, aligned roles and re-predominately reinforcing consequences for engag-sponsibilities wil struggle to help fol owers at the ing in unproductive practices. Alternately, it is also R1 Level of Readiness. This is also not the time to possible that a fol ower may experience predomi-“hope” that emerging performance issues wil “take nately punitive consequences for engaging in pro-care of themselves”. From a performance trajec-ductive or desired practices. Attempts to modify tory standpoint, the R1 is on the launching pad. the fol owers behavior without understanding, align-Smal deviations from acceptable standards wil ing and modifying the consequences the fol ower probably only result in larger and more difﬁcult experiences may only result in mutual frustration. gaps down the road. A leaders’ attempt at providing effective direction In this module, leaders analyze their work unit’s wil be effected by how they provide direction (see “motivating performance system” (MPS). An MPS is table above) and when they provide direction. the way in which work unit goals, measures, feed-Providing direction to a fol ower in the R3 or R4 back, roles, standards, etc. work together to align readiness level may lead to frustrating disconnects. and energize effort. The analysis is a comparative Again, imagine driving around and being lost. This analysis of their work unit’s MPS against the MPS’s time, instead of getting some helpful directions that can be found in most sports. Sports are great the person gives you a 101 lesson in driving; “10 & examples of how well-constructed MPS’s can align 2” on the steering wheel, seat nice and upright, and energize efforts. Smal improvements in MPS’s check mirror alignment… . As an R4 driver, these can boost the effectiveness of everyone in the work same task focused, directive and instructive prac-unit and make it real y easy for R1’s to make pro-tices focused driving skil set wil likely frustrate you gress and productive contributions quickly.to the point of wanting to drive off the nearest cliff To help grasp the scope of Directing, leaders also edge. Problems can occur when leaders mismatch analyze performance related behaviors (not atti-their approaches. This is why focusing on fol ow-tudes) and appreciate the way consequences rein-ers, their Readiness and continual y learning how to force behaviors. Leaders also learn to get back to respond as a leader is so important. the basic ABC’s of behavior; Activator (signal/cue), Behavior (what the fol ower does) and Conse-quences (what the fol ower experiences after the behavior). General Systems Consulting • www. LeadInstitute.com • firstname.lastname@example.org 2