CTO Compass

Are you response-able?

CTO Compass series

People are the most essential part of any organisation. The culture you define determines how people show up and engage in their work. When people feel they have agency in their work, their internal motivation increases. By enabling agency, we also increase their accountability for what they are responsible for.

Be Proactive

In his seminal book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey puts this best in the first habit, “Be Proactive”.

“Look at the word responsibility—’response-ability’—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognise that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”

If you’re leading a team or an organisation and want to kindle this behaviour, acting that way yourself is the best way to do so. Show, don’t tell.

So, are you proactive; are you response-able? Covey again:

The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalised values.

Proactive people are driven by values (aka character traits or virtues), can choose a better response, and take responsibility for their actions (or inaction).

The People Analyser

With that in mind, EOS has a simple tool called the People Analyser.

The right people are the ones who share your company’s core values. They fit and thrive in your culture. They are people you enjoy being around and who make your organisation a better place to be – Gino Wickman (Founder of EOS Worldwide)

List the names of your team down the page, and write your organisation’s core values in columns across the top. Then for every person, rate them either a plus, minus, or plus/minus for each value.

  • Rate a plus (+) for someone who regularly exhibits and strives to embody the value. No one is perfect; it’s not about perfection.
  • Rate a +/- if they sometimes show it, but it needs work
  • Rate a minus (-) for someone who rarely, if ever, shows it or, worse, often exhibits the opposite.

Don’t forget to also include and rate yourself. Decide the minimum bar for each value you would accept for your organisation. At least one or two values should be critical, so anything less than a plus is unacceptable.

For example, our value of “Becoming 1% better every day” is not just something nice to say. I want a team of people who are relentlessly curious and keen to improve. I leave a lot of money on the table in service of this with quarterly learning weeks and time each week dedicated to improvement. We hire with this in mind, and if someone is no longer striving to embody it, it is a sign that something needs to change.

Ask the individuals on your team to rate themselves, and ask them to rate you too. Then have an open and frank discussion with them, sharing each other’s ratings.

⚡️ Thinking Time ⚡️

Consider one or more of these questions during your Thinking Time this week.

  • Do you consider yourself proactive? Why? Why not?
  • Do you honour your commitments? If not, why not? What might be the root cause?
  • Are you making commitments you don’t want to make or have no intention of following through with them?

Decide some next action steps to help you commit to what you should and what you’ll do when you’re asked to commit to something you cannot.

CTO Compass series