Revisiting Signs of Safety Leadership

What would staff say they want to see you modelling in your leadership role?

  • Using appreciative inquiry
  • Being curious
  • Asking more questions
  • Working with families allowing them the opportunity to find their own solutions, leaders allowing this to be a parallel process with staff, not directing staff
  • Valuing the staff group’s skills, respecting their professional approach to Signs of Safety, having relationships that support them to build healthy relationships with others
  • We use Signs of Safety style questioning when they come to us
  • Do with and not to
  • Staff see that we are more collaborative, consistent not just in cases but the way we run team meetings, our language
  • When we have to be directive the staff understand why
  • We work from a strength base not a deficit base (supervision is appreciative and reflective)
  • We communicate well our own bottom lines
  • Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

What will staff be seeing and experiencing that will make them feel you respect them, and see them as worth doing business with?

  • When I do this safety planning with this family, they will have my back if things get difficult
  • They will support us through the challenges
  • They will see leaders being curious and asking questions
  • Appreciative inquiry will be visible and purposefully used
  • They will know we understand the framework
  • They will see us use the framework
  • Front line staff as well as leaders are being asked what they think to help develop our policies / procedures / service alignment
  • Seeing staff as experts, it’s not always the leadership
  • We are enthusiastic / motivated to use Signs of Safety
  • Managers are engaged in mapping discussions at all levels.

Where is your leadership now?

On a scale 0-10
Where 10 means, your leadership is seen as totally consistent with what staff see as what they are expected to do, it is just and fair without compromising you setting direction and requiring performance, and

0 means: Staff think you are from another planet, you speak a different language, your expectations and how you express them are not aligned with what they are being asked to do in their practice.

Where would you rate the situation today?

And what do you want to demonstrate more deliberately in your leadership that would get you up a point?

Leading by questioning

In making our use of questioning more effective, it is helpful to understand the different type of questions:

  • Relationship questions – “what would … say?” – see the situation from other perspectives.
  • Detail questions – “tell me more about … ?” – avoid responding to headlines, get more detail.
  • Scaling questions – “on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is … ?” – workers find these hard, so model them and show how useful they are
  • Future questions – “what would … look like?” – help the other person have a vision of the preferred future.
  • Exception questions – tell me about a time when … didn’t happen? – help the other person process what has helped in the past.

Can I do better at leading by questioning?

On a scale 0-10
10 is I really try to avoid telling people what to do, the temptation is great because that is what they want and is easy, but I do it only when it is clearlythe most effective and necessary way; otherwise I try to help people find the answers themselves by asking questions that probe the issues and make them think, and

0 is I use the authority because I have to make stuff happen and so I tell people clearly and repeatedly what is required and give very direct advice or directions when people seek them.

Think of the best example you can when it is really necessary to give direction (ie, whenyou  ‘require’)
Think of the best example you can for when it is really best to ask questions (ie, when you ‘inquire’)

  • Often, and when in doubt, the ‘what’ might be ‘require’ but the ‘how’ can almost invariably be ‘inquire’
  • You can give direction when it is clear what needs to be done but otherwise stay curious

And so:
Thinking about your score on the scale, what do you need to do to move a point towards more leading by questioning?
Think about what you can do deliberately, regularly that will get you there?