I recently participated in a Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) Clinic offered by The Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator Peter Alduino. I hadn't taken an LPI in more years than I can remember, so figured it was time to reassess. As a result, I'm feeling a great deal more empathy and kinship with workshop participants these days. And my personal LPI analysis led me to some key points that have influenced how I present and coach the LPI.
I often use a version of the SARAH model (Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance, Help/Hope) when I introduce the LPI and lately I've been emphasizing the point that Acceptance does not necessarily mean Agreement. That is, that although a respondent, or even several respondents, may see you in particular way, you don't have to agree that it's the "God's honest truth" about you. You can even disagree . . . strongly. All you have to do is accept that's the way they see it, and then make your own decisions about what you want to do differently.
The choice is yours! What you do in response to your LPI is "between you and you." You get to decide what to work on, what to leave alone for a while, how to proceed. And although we, as facilitators, can offer up lots of 'best practices' suggestions about how to choose and how to proceed to follow up, ultimately, what makes the most sense to the individual, for his or her own reasons, will engender the greatest commitment and motivation for behavior change.
I've also started asking folks to consider the question, "Where does the responsibility for behavior change lie?" It's easy and natural to assume that when a respondent reports low frequency in a given behavior, it's up to the leader to find ways to engage in that behavior more often, notwithstanding the other side of the relationship. That will likely raise the score, but it may not be the best thing to do. Here's an example that comes up a lot. Let's say someone gets a low score on the Encouraging the Heart behaviors from one or two respondents, and in discussion, they complain that, in truth, they have a couple of Direct Reports whose performance is lacking and, "they'll be !**#!'ed if they pat someone on the head for just showing up!" Perhaps, in that situation, the responsibility for change lies with the Direct Reports; and that rather than focusing primarily on finding ways to give more praise, the leader needs to look at Enabling Others to Act behaviors; and on setting clear performance standards and opening dialogue to insure that expectations are clear and staff are accountable and take ownership for results. Just be sure to caution folks to be honest with themselves, rather than using the 'convenient excuse' that it's always the respondents who have to change!
Another way I've started to think about the key point above is this: the 'right' question is not necessarily the most obvious one. So when I coach and consult with folks on their LPI's I try to remember not to start with a conversation about how to raise behavior scores or how they interact in relation to individual behaviors, but with a more general inquiry into what's going on in their area and in their work relationships. With that insight, we can interpret the LPI data in context together, understand the unique situation more fully, and more successfully zero in on the critical issues and the behaviors that will offer the most leverage for improved relationships and results.
The Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator Sharon Landes' expertise includes leadership, ethics and diversity. She has collaborated with recognized thought leaders in these areas and has led and designed programs based on Terry Pearce's Leading Out Loud and Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner's The Leadership Challenge and Credibility. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.