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Executing on a New Future

Part 2 of a 3-part series on Leading into the Future.

In the Fall 2021 issue of Catersource, we described key points needed to take your leadership to a new level. In this article, we are going to discuss the most important piece of new learning and practice required to declare and execute on a new future.

As experienced hospitality leaders, executive coaches and business advisors, we continue to hear similar concerns from leaders that we did before the pandemic.

  1. Generational shift and developing leaders
  2. Actions and results not produced by people
  3. Creativity and competition
  4. Operational effectiveness
  5. Capacity, growth, and scaling
  6. Culture and engagement

My promise to you is that the solutions to these issues are more within your grasp than you might think if you are willing to see and act with a new lens. The solutions are simple, but they are not trivial. There are several “enemies of learning” that keep us from fully admitting the need to make these changes in ourselves and our teams (I will discuss these “enemies” in Part 3).

Death by meeting

Let me start with a few declarations:

  • Organizations exist and are brought into being because of conversations and care, concerns and shared promises, and commitments.
  • Leaders are responsible for bringing teammates of different abilities and strengths together into conversations of a common purpose, that produce action toward the desired results you say you want.
  • Leadership is a practice, and it must be continually cultivated through conversations to be effective.

What is the common thread in these declarations? Conversation. Yet conversation (the untrained often say conflict, argument, disagreement) is one of the most untrained and fear-based skills of the leader. An organization is a network of conversations. These conversations are either aligned or not aligned to achieve their mission and purpose. What happens when we are not aligned to our purpose and mission? Our conversations are not aligned and then our actions are not aligned. We do not accomplish what we say we want. Your results depend on how effective the conversations you and your team are having to produce the results you say you want.

Does this sound like you and/or your organization? Death by meeting. Conversations resulting in zero action or results. Throwing solutions at a wall in hopes that they stick. Leaders and teams continually laying down and stepping over the same organizational speedbumps. Employees are unclear, resigned, burned out, and resentful. Look at the ongoing “Great Resignation” for proof. The work force in our country is looking to join organizations that will help them to find more value, satisfaction, and meaning in their lives. This is a possibility and an opportunity for your organization if you view it that way.

Start the conversation

Since the early ‘70s the Global Institute for Generative Leadership has been teaching coaches, consultants, and leaders how to observe, dissect, and improve the conversations needed for teams. These conversations are the heart of coordinating action and results. If you learn and practice them, you will be able to overcome your challenges and move toward a more meaningful future.

  • Conversation for Care – Organizations, teams, vision, and objectives all come into being because of people’s cares and promises, offers and commitments.
  • Conversation for Trust – This is not a conversation we have just once; it is ongoing.
  • Conversation for Possibility (or speculation or innovation) – Brings out a mood of flexibility, playfulness, openness; not making assessments or judgements that are limiting.
  • Conversation for Action – A manageable structure of making and reporting on promises and commitments based on the “unities” of conditions of satisfaction. Clarity on what each person will and will not commit to is the result. How to report on the status of your promise. How to foresee and overcome potential roadblocks and breakdowns to your promise.
  • Conversation for Complaint – With an increased ability for a team to make bigger offers and promises comes the opportunity for inevitable breakdowns to these promises. This is happening in our lives all the time. The ability to comfortably have a conversation that results in a promise not being met is powerful. There is no shame or blame. There is only improvement together.
  • Conversation for Recovery – Breakdowns and interruptions are inevitable. Have a conversation to recenter, reassess, and recalibrate to fulfill the promise.

Questions you should be asking

  1. What is the default future for yourself and your organization, if you continue to have the same conversations, take the same actions toward your same future?
  2. Will that default future bring you and your team the value, satisfaction, and meaning you declare that you want in your life?
  3. What new learning and observations are opening for you after reading this article?
  4. What are you curious about?
  5. What are the missing conversations that you need to have?

Choose your future. Love your choice. You are choosing either way.  

Greg Karl

Founder | Step Change Leader

Greg Karl is founder of Step Change Leader, a generative business advisory, leadership & organizational development firm.  Step Change Leader helps owners and teams discover and generate a future that provides value, satisfaction and meaning.  He is also on the Certified Catering Consultants team.