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Monday, June 25, 2012

10 Essential Leadership Models

10 Essential Leadership Models

Time Away

A couple of weeks ago,  my family took a vacation to the beach for a week.   What did we do?

I caught up on my reading (mostly for pleasure)...
I cooked and ate...

and ate...

and ate...
and ate...
We all ate!

And we played, and played and played!!

And enjoyed family time

As a leadership lesson, time away can help renew our sense of purpose and refresh our attitude towards work.  Sometimes a break leads way to more productivity when we return.  

When you are sensing burnout, I would strongly encourage some time away.  It may not be a week, but  time away from the emails, the phone, and the office is one of the best leadership lessons we can teach ourselves.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pot, Meet Kettle

Have you ever heard the expression,  "Well that's like the pot calling the kettle black"?   It is used to express the idea that we are often prone to point out the flaws in others that we have in ourselves.

In my last post, I mentioned how one of my clients had a revelation tied to this idea in passing judgement.  She said to me, "I was angry at all these self righteous, judgmental people and then I realized I was just as bad because I was constantly judging them!"  

I had another person just this week tell me of heated encounter he had with someone.  The person yelled at them,  "Until you learn to control your temper, I don't want to see you here again!"  He said he wanted to ask,  "Well doesn't that mean you have to leave too?!"

As leaders, being aware of what irritates us to say the least and infuriates us to say the most in others can turn into a self-reflection exercise in improving our own capabilities.   I had this revelation in my self awareness exercise when someone stated that one of my flaws involved negativity.  I have always said that I hate negative people, but really what I probably hate most is when I see negativity in myself.

So what can we do to keep from calling the kettle black?

1. Identify what bothers you the most in others.  It may be their temper, their judgement, their negativity, you decide.

2. Once you've identified these things, make of list of when you have been guilty of the same things, and identify what situations or people make you more prone to act that way.

3.  Next,  keep these things in your mind, and avoid falling victim to them.  This may involve removing yourself from certain situations (or people) or it may just be having the conscious awareness to avoid the behavior.

I think you will see a change in the behaviors of those around you when you change your own.  Many people imitate the behaviors of their leaders because they subconsciously think that by being like the boss, they one day may get to be the boss.   If you cut out the behaviors that bother you the most, you'll be more likely to eliminate them not only from yourself, but from those that follow your example.

Tell us about a pot and kettle moment you've had!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Verdict

Yesterday,  as a personal self awareness test, I posted what I assumed approximately 25 of my colleagues, clients, friends, and family would identify as my top 2-3 flaws/habits related to work.

The verdict is in, an despite a small response, I was right on two of them, and way off on one.

I postulated that "adding too much value" and "passing judgement' would be two identified and they were.   I'm aware (maybe it is the consultant in me--- or wait,  I'm I making the mistake of #20 on the list- "An excessive need to be 'me'"!) that I am somewhat of a know it all, and feel like I need voice my opinion at every turn.   My dad and I, in fact, had a conversation about our gene pool of vocal opinions this morning on a run.  

Because of this,  I will strive to state my opinion when it is really wanted (when I can truly add value) and/or when it is solicited.   Talking just to here myself talk in a meeting or in a one-on-one discussion is not warranted or solicited.

Passing judgement is something I have always been guilty of.  I loved what one client told me about her step in front of the mirror about passing judgement.  Basically, she said, "I was angry at all these self righteous, judgmental people and then I realized I was just as bad because I was constantly judging them!"  What a fabulous self-awareness wake up call (and something I will write about next week- What you find as the biggest flaw in others is usually what we are most guilty of ourselves!)

To combat this, I think my greatest ally will be, always asking myself,  "Have you put yourself in their shoes?"  Sometimes the Golden Rule is the best and only leadership principle needed.

Other responses I got were,  "Negativity, or 'Let me expelling with that won't work.'- the need to share our negative thoughts even when they aren't asked."  I think this goes in conjunction with my need to always add my two cents whether asked for our not.   Tying my work on improving adding my two cents, I believe, will help in this area as well.

And finally, where did I get an "F" in self-awareness?   I listed that no one would site "Failing to express gratitude" and someone did.   The person sending in this response was kind enough to elaborate and said, "MIW most certainly does not have bad manners.  I don't know that she showers people with gratitude anytime they do something good, but in a professional setting, that's not necessary anyway."  

While I appreciate the sentiments and explanation of my colleague, whoever it may be,  one of the things that I almost pride myself on is working to express gratitude,  particularly in the workplace.   One of my New Year's resolutions was to get rid of the 100 professional thank you notes I ordered by the end of 2012. That's at least 2 handwritten notes a week (to see why I think this is important, see The Priceless Handwritten Note).   I think I should endeavor to find ways to thank people by their standard of gratitude, not my own (not everyone finds a handwritten note that wonderful) and to follow my own advice of writing notes or expressing gratitude to those who I'm closest to.  This week, I've sent my two notes out, and I would call them acquaintances at best.

So, what does this exercise mean at all, other than my self-indulgence, and more importantly, what does it say about leadership?   As a mentioned before,  self-awareness is the first step in establishing behavioral change.  You can't improve that which you don't know needs to be improved.  In addition,  aligning what you think you need to improved about yourself needs to be based on what other's think.  Their perception shapes your leadership or lack thereof.  Once you have this reflection, you can set about making positive behavioral change.

When have you come face-to-face with a different reflection of yourself than others saw and how did you respond?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Self-Awareness Test

Today, I sent the list of top 20 flaws or bad habits discussed in last week's blog post  to approximately 25 of my colleagues, clients, friends and family.   I asked them to send what they believe to be my two biggest flaws to a friend and colleague of mine to compile.  

Before I see what they said,  I am posting here what I believe they will say as a way to test my self-awareness.    Tomorrow I'll post the results and write about my self-awareness or lack thereof! Stay tuned....

I think my top 2-3 flaws will be one of these 4: 
  1. Adding too much value:  The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
  2. Passing Judgement: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
  3. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we're smarter than they think we are. 
  4. Not listening: The most passive –aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
And maybe this one....
  1. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
I'm going to jump out on a limb even further and say that these items no one will report (in other words,  I don't think I'm guilty of these things): 
  1. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
  2. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we're wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others. 
  3. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.

I am also going to speculate that responses will be different based on my relationship with the person (whether friend, family, co-worker or client).  If my friend can break this down without giving up the anonymity of the person(s) submitting responses,  I will write about that as well tomorrow.

*All list of flaws are quoted directly from Marshall Goldsmith's What Got You Here Won't Get You There pp. 40-41