Lindsay Uittenbogaard founded Mirror Mirror in 2016.
With twenty-five years of commercial experience, Lindsay spent the first ten years of her career in entrepreneurial and small business management roles. She moved across to communication leadership positions in multinational organizations in 2001. Since then she has gained international communications experience across the energy, IT, and telecommunications industries.
Manuela Damant, Co-Founder and Owner of Open the Door Leadership, which focuses on empowering high potential women, interviewed Lindsay about her work with Mirror Mirror.
Hello Lindsay. You clearly saw a gap in the market and a need. What first inspired you to develop it?
Experience has taught me that change only happens when it makes sense to people, and at the same time, we know many change efforts fail. We also know that progress and change is slow and inefficient when people in a team aren’t pointing in the same direction – because they are making sense of things differently. I’ve seen the frustration and wastage this causes – after all, it’s said that people only want two things at work: to be understood and valued for the work they are enabled to do.
Indeed, research in the social sciences is telling us that what people think and feel has a huge impact on performance. It seems obvious when you say it like that, but from what I can see, the proportion of leaders who behave like they still don’t see the relevance between these two factors, even today, is high. But actually, that’s probably more out out of the lack of a way to manage this, than ignorance.
And that’s where the Mirror Mirror concept came from. It’s a process that helps teams make better and faster progress by helping them develop a shared current reality. If people can open up and hear the views of others to recognise the common ground and find compatibility among the differences, what happens next is more clarity, alignment, and momentum. Taking a bit of time out to socially align was something I felt was missing – something simple, refreshing, constructive, and rewarding.
So how is Mirror Mirror different to the other team effectiveness offerings out there?
Mirror Mirror is the only structured, repeatable process that allows teams to identify and explore their shared current reality as a way of creating the clarity, alignment, and momentum they need to get to the next level.
It is not a concept or theoretical model that needs to be translated back into the workplace: it is an entirely practical action learning process that connects effectiveness with the identification of the whole team context, so that everyone in the team is already engaged and committed to move forward together.
What tip would you give to team leaders who have concerns about the alignment of their team?
Leaders and Managers have a tough job (I have written about this in my blog). Teams are not naturally aligned, harmonious units. Most team leaders try to keep on top of things by having conversations with people one-on-one or in groups, but when things speed up, diverge and change, it’s hard to keep everyone properly in the loop, and the confusion and disconnects that occur are not necessarily a reflection on the Team Leader. My tip would be to spend time understanding what the views of your team are, and why. That way you’ll know how to engage with them. Ask questions upwards, keep the dialogue going, don’t struggle on defiantly with a wall around you.
Mirror Mirror concentrates on teams in transition. Is there an ideal point in time at which leaders could take advantage of Mirror Mirror?
It’s a mantra these days that change is constant. In principle, anytime is a good time for leaders to help prepare their teams for the next step. But some times are better than others. New leaders and team members can compress their onboarding time significantly with Mirror Mirror – that’s a good time. Pressure to get different results – that’s a good time. A stale team in need of a jumpstart – that’s a good time.
What do you feel is lacking in business today when it comes to team effectiveness?
There’s a general sense of disappointment about some of the leadership learning models and concepts out there and how the ROI from using that doesn’t seem to be coming through. Good learnings and intentions seem to disappear when we return to the workplace. Why? Because of the culture and other contextual factors at work are simply overpowering. We fall back into our old ways and habits.
A good friend of mine who has worked in HR Management with a large global organization for the past 20 years remarked that with all the millions they have spent on leadership development and performance management programmes over the years, the evidence just wasn’t there to show a return on investment.
With the low levels of trust in leaders, the perceived fake news, and the increasing complexity in all sectors, we are missing tangible, practical, quick and easy ways to move forward that are anchored in the workplace context.
Mirror Mirror was founded solely by you along with the support of various industry partners. What is the hardest part about launching a new offering in such a busy market?
When people ‘get’ Mirror Mirror’ they are very enthusiastic and want to help spread the word. It’s not a model that imposes a higher knowledge about what people in a team should do differently, it’s not separate from the context at work – it is an extremely effective offer that differentiates from the competition. However, it’s quite hard to communicate Mirror Mirror on paper / digitally in a way that is immediately understandable. Face to face meetings are much more effective, and everything we do is geared around building relationships rather than sharing information.
Finally, what excites you about working in this industry?
What I hear about the future excites me. I’m hearing a hunger for more transparency, honesty, employee involvement, and employee enablement. I’m hearing a need for simple, practical, and immediately actionable learning rather than month-long programmes. I’m picking up on the willingness of people to look at the latest offerings on the market. All this means there’s a lot of scope to deliver low cost, low intensive options that make a big impact.