Applying CQ in Teams

A fundamental part of understanding CQ is understanding which type of change leader you are—a Coach, a Visionary, an Executer, a Champion, a Driver, a Facilitator, or an Adapter, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. When they learn about these types, most of my clients ask me the same question, and it’s a good one: “What blend of change leader styles is best to have on a team? Is there an ideal team profile?”

In the short term, a particular team profile may be most appropriate to address a specific need. A Driver team (strong on Head and Hands) would be invaluable for a high- intensity, make-it-or-break-it turnaround. A Champion team (favoring Head and Heart capabilities) would be particularly adept at rallying an organization around a radically new vision. A Facilitator team (skilled at Heart and Hands) would be of great assistance in implementing a complex new technology on the front lines.

Just as there is no ideal individual profile, there is ultimately no ideal team profile. Success lies in how aware the team is of its CQ blend and what it does to leverage it. Just as the best change leaders are enlightened by knowledge of their style, their strengths, and their blind spots, so it is for the ideal team.

My longest-standing co-facilitator and I are the opposite styles. I’m a Champion, and he’s an Executer. When we first met, it was like we were speaking two different languages, and I couldn’t get where he was coming from half the time. However, we both trusted and respected each other. As we learned each other’s styles, we began to value and appreciate what each other brought to the table.

Over the years, the two of us have led many change projects together. Invariably, he owns the project plan—and mercifully so! His spreadsheets boast multiple worksheets, many tabs, and an abundance of color. Every i dotted and t crossed. I, on the other hand, tend to take the lead with facilitating project meetings. That said, his more detail-oriented and unemotional style can play better with technically oriented types. We are each a good balance to the other. Clients get the benefit of both our styles, our different perspectives and provocative viewpoints, and our complementary skill sets.

It’s not necessarily that Champions and Executers are natural-born partners; the benefit comes from my co-facilitator and I exploring our own brand of change intelligence and using our awareness of each other’s predispositions and working styles to collaborate effectively.

One caveat as you apply CQ to your team: Be sure that you don’t dump all responsibility on certain individuals because the work seems suited to their CQ style. Don’t assume that just because you’re the Visionary, you’ll always own the strategy. Don’t assume that because you’re the Coach, all the people dynamics fall on your plate. Don’t dump all the minutiae of project planning on the Executer or have the Champion make all the executive presentations. Don’t expect the Facilitator to run every team meeting or the Driver to kick butt and take names when things go awry. That’s stereotyping. We each have a profile, but “profiling” is forbidden!

Teams charged with leading change together can reap great benefits from exploring their collective change intelligence. Here are some questions to spark dialogue and new working agreements for future success.

  1. What is our team’s value to the organization, particularly with respect to leading change?
  2. Is our team operating as effectively as it could be?
  3. If not, why not? Can a deficit of CQ explain any of these reasons?
  4. How can we apply our knowledge of CQ to improve our team’s effectiveness?
  5. How are we leading change effectively? What are the positive things happening in our current change project?
  6. How can the CQ System help us understand the ways we aren’t leading change effectively? What are the negative aspects of our current change project?
  7. Is there a previous change project we can learn from—one we can dissect and interpret in light of what we now know about CQ? Can we create agreements among the team based on these insights and then carry them forth into the future?
  8. What is our team’s overall change leader style? Given that, at what aspects of leading change do we predict our team will excel? What are our team’s strengths?
  9. What aspect of CQ (Heart, Head, or Hands) is our team lowest in? Which team member (or members) provides a complementary perspective that can help the team overcome its blind spots? What contributions can specific team members make to increase the effectiveness and positive impact of the team’s actions?
  10. Taken together, what are action steps for us to build our CQ as a team to lead powerful, positive change?

By the end of this discussion, the team will have reached a consensus on how to improve relationships and roles within the team and will have made new agreements on how best to enhance processes and results.

Periodically, bring the team back together to review its progress, make any necessary course corrections, and celebrate its successes!

Adapters: Capitalizing on Strengths, Shoring Up Weak Spots

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The seventh and final change leader type is the Adapter, relies equally on all three.

Adapters are role models for friendliness to change. When at their best, they emerge as positive, engaging ambassadors for change.

In The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner list the five pillars of great leaders, and one of them is a willingness to “Challenge the Process.” As the change leader style most open to experimentation, Adapters may be naturally inclined to do as Kouzes and Posner recommend and “search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and exercising ‘outsight,’ and experiment and take risks by generating small wins and learning from experience.”

Adapters generally help others do the same as well. Their natural inquisitiveness and change-friendliness increases the probability that they will create an environment in which people can arrive at insights themselves; and when people arrive at their own insights, they’re much more likely to own the change. As David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz write in their article “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” “At a moment of insight, a complex set of new connections [in the brain] is being created. These connections have the potential to enhance our mental resources and overcome the brain’s resistance to change. But to achieve this, given the brain’s limited working memory, we need to make a deliberate effort to hardwire an insight by paying it repeated attention. That is why employees need to ‘own’ any kind of change initiative for it to be successful . . . For insights to be useful, they need to be generated from within, not given to individuals as conclusions.”

Adapters need to remember that flexibility and agreeableness are probably not the legacy they want to leave behind them as business leaders. Yes, great leaders need to consider the input of others and remain open to course corrections during times of change. But they also need to make unpopular decisions and keep moving forward confidently, with their compass pointed toward true north.

I take a closer look at Adapters, along with the other six leadership styles, in Change Intelligence. You may already have a hunch on which type you are, but included in the book is a code to access an assessment that will give you a definitive answer on which of these change leader styles is your own.

Adapters, Part I

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The seventh and final change leader type is the Adapter, who relies equally on all three.

Adapters exist at the crossroads between Head, Heart, and Hands. They have a uniform score on all three dimensions. They can easily employ all three—each as it is needed—without being committed to one; and they relate well to others. But Adapters’ impact as change leaders may actually be lessened because of their lack of a preference for one type. While the capacity to flex one’s approach is generally an asset, at times others can find it difficult to relate to Adapters because of their changeability.

If you are an Adapter, because you are naturally skilled at utilizing all the tools in the change leader toolkit, you connect with a wide variety of stakeholders in the change process and are comfortable experimenting with creative ways to move the process forward. You excel at flexibility, inventiveness, and teamwork.

But people may find you hard to read because of your lack of a dominant change leadership style, and you may sometimes struggle with which path to pursue because of your versatility. Your genuine adaptability coupled with your desire to be part of the group can sometimes cause you to focus too much on compromise—at the expense of advocating for tough stances, at least in the short term. You’re also adept at promoting change behind the scenes, but you would do well to ensure that such behavior is perceived positively by others and not as divisive scheming.

As an Adapter, you excel as a leader because you often:

  • Like to be personally involved and engaged with a wide variety of stakeholders in the change process—you are a very active and vocal change leader
  • Are curious about what others think and feel, are open-minded, and consider the input of others
  • Enjoy playing the role of a devil’s advocate and challenging group assumptions or plans
  • Like to experiment with different ways of doing things, thereby exhibiting flexibility and a willingness to adapt as you learn through the change process
  • Show others that you are willing to compromise in order to overcome resistance or to convince others to take the first step in a new direction

Despite all this, your strengths come with a few shortfalls. Adapters also sometimes:

  • Can be so flexible that it can be difficult for you to determine which behaviors to deploy to reach your goals
  • May at times value reaching an agreement above making a less-popular decision that makes better business sense (at least in the short term)
  • Can be perceived as going around the chain of command when you work “behind the scenes” to achieve your objectives
  • Can become bored by routine and tempted to stir things up to alleviate monotony
  • Can be rigid or inflexible under pressure or when stressed

So while your flexibility as an Adapter can open you up to experimentation and interactivity, you can also be unpredictable and inconsistent. When you have a full understanding of these facets of your leadership style, you can go about maximizing the good and minimizing the weak spots.

Facilitators: Capitalizing on Strengths, Shoring Up Weak Spots

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The sixth change leader type is the Facilitator, who has strong Heart and Hands capabilities.

High-performance, high-participation organizations display constancy of vision and flexibility of approach. That’s good news for Facilitators, who excel at practical, creative, hands-on change leadership.

In The Heart of Change, Kotter writes,

People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings. The central challenge is not strategy, not systems, not culture. These elements and many others can be very important, but the core problem without question is behavior—what people do, and the need for significant shifts in what people do . . . Changing behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping to see a truth to influence their feelings. Both thinking and feeling are essential, and both are to be found in successful organizations, but the heart of change is in the emotions. The flow of see-feel-change is more powerful than that of analysis-think-change.

Given their penchant for “making it real,” Facilitators are naturally gifted in helping others see and feel the positive impacts of change, and as Kotter notes, this is pivotal in organizational transformation. Once a Facilitator bolsters his strong focus on the Heart and Hands with conscious attention to the Head, he’ll be ready to lead positive change and invigorate his career.

I look more deeply into the role and the traits of the Facilitator in Change Intelligence.

Facilitators, Part I

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The sixth change leader type is the Facilitator, who has strong Heart and Hands capabilities.

Facilitators excel at Heart and Hands, and some say this is the best of all possible combinations, because they emphasize both task and process— they make change happen and care about how it happens. Facilitators foster change by encouraging involvement, using their listening skills, and adroitly resolving differences. At times, however, they may lose sight of the big picture and forget where the change process is ultimately leading. Facilitators may also be reluctant to provide constructive criticism for fear of disrupting relationships.

If you are a Facilitator, then more than any other style of change leader, you are adept at “facilitating,” making the change process smooth and helping others through it. You ensure that change happens day by day, and you notice how the change process affects everyone around you. You are participative, involved, and resourceful.

As a Facilitator, you have a handle on short-term change objectives, but you may not be as good at keeping an eye on long-term business goals. A broader, more strategic view will likely make you a more effective leader, helping ensure that the actions that make up the project plan align with the ultimate destination. At times you may need to step out of your comfort zone to confront people who are not behaving consistently with the change, and you’ll have to remember not to take on too many tasks yourself.

What makes Facilitators great leaders is that they tend to:

  • Be participative, facilitative leaders
  • Encourage others to work together toward goals in a structured and well-planned manner
  • Be creative in partnering with others to invent new ways to accomplish objectives
  • Demonstrate a can-do attitude and sincere willingness to roll up your sleeves and work alongside others to get things done
  • Actively seek to provide people with the tools, training, and support they need

But what can mar your assets is that you sometimes:

  • Focus more on the immediate what and how instead of the long-term and bottom-line why
  • Can get caught up in the process of making the change happen and not devote time to periodically revisiting whether the plan and path still make sense as things evolve
  • Can take on too much yourself
  • May not aggressively coach and deal with underperformers and those resisting the change
  • May not consistently appear savvy in communicating the vision, strategy, and business case

You’re an involved, resourceful, good listener, but your intense focus on the immediate can at times make you come across as too tactical or too hesitant to confront others. When you have a full understanding of these facets of your leadership style, you can go about maximizing the good and minimizing the weak spots.