Self-Awareness

Every leader goes through many stages of development, which typically begins with taking a fresh look at yourself as a leader.  During the first stage, you listen and learn from everyone and every situation.  The second stage involves beginning to prove yourself as a leader, especially in your decision-making and problem-solving skills.  By the third stage you begin to have successes and deliver results based on the potential others saw in you. The fourth stage is when you start to question your abilities, especially when something has set you back a bit.

After a few iterations of the other stages, you enter the 5th stage – the one where you exhibit a little more maturity as a leader.  You discover a sense of humility and humor – the stage where you realize that those you surround yourself with are just as important, if not more so, than you are.  If you are a leader that takes yourself too seriously, you may find work life more difficult than it needs to be. 

In a Forbes article by Chinwe Esimai titled “Great Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness” she states that self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop.  Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or to compensate for them.

Key points to self-awareness:

  1. Know yourself.  How self-aware are you?  How keen is your emotional intelligence, that ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others?  How are you effectively using that awareness to manage your behavior and relationships?  Are you honest with yourself about areas in which you need to grow?
  • Identify external factors that trigger both negative and positive behaviors.  How can you control your negative reaction to triggers?
  • Gather trusted feedback to help you understand the impact of your actions on others.  Are you unaware of your blind spots that may limit your effectiveness as a leader?
  • Consider the circumstances by thinking about when to utilize a personality trait to your advantage and when it’s best to leave it on the sidelines.  Most self-aware leaders have learned to identify their natural tendencies and have adjusted their behavior in some way, in order to change how they are perceived.  They did not change their personality, but they did learn how to change their behavior, when needed, in both business and personal situations.
  • Assess behaviors in light of your values and priorities by being honest about what tendencies you would like to change and which ones you would like to build upon.  The best outcome of self-awareness is to figure out what makes you amazing and be more of the excellent you.
  • Stay curious about yourself and others.  Curiosity will help you continually learn, grow, and develop as an effective leader.  Remember, you can learn from each person you interact with throughout the day.

If you want to go a little deeper regarding self-awareness, listen to this TED talk. (18:09) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9qVa4LoJx8  The Power of Self-Awareness by William L. Sparks

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” – Carl Jung

What transformational leader is lying silent in you, encompassing all of the talents and gifts that can enable you to become the next-generation you?” – Robert McMillan

“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

Creating Your Vision

Creating Your Vision

Vision

  • The act or power of seeing with the eye or in your imagination
  • The ability to perceive something not actually visible
  • Something seen that is a force or power of the imagination

Empower

  • Give someone the authority or power to do something.
  • Enable someone to do something.
  • Make someone stronger and more confident.

When you take a step back, whether it is at a new job or a job you have been at awhile, what is your vision for your area of responsibility?  It is yours to shape.  What are your priorities and goals?  What is your plan for the next two to three weeks?  How is your team doing?  What do the stats say about your performance?  What are the immediate things that you should be focusing on?  How are you going to get better as a leader?  What could your location accomplish if you removed some of the barriers to success?

  1. Vision.  What do you see as the next big steps?  How could the environment, resources, the employees, the team, the customer service be at its best?  What would it take to make that leap?
  • Challenge. Help your team members believe ‘we can do anything’.  Use every means of communicating your compelling vision.  Enlist management to help you tell the whole story and talk about the goals.
  • Open Up.  Don’t hold anything back.  What is known about empowerment and engagement is that the more employees know about where you are, where you are going, and are involved in how to get there, the more they will help you carry out the plan.
  • Question. Ask questions. Talk to your team members, your customers, your peers, and your boss.  Make your own observations as objectively as you can.  Put the information all together and see what picture it is painting.  What do you need to hold on to?  What do you need to act on?
  • Defend.  Once you have decided upon a plan of action, the image you will project, rules for behavior, hold on to your reputation and high levels of expectation.  Involve everyone in holding each other accountable for the standards agreed upon.
  • Empower.  Freedom creates discipline.  Create an atmosphere that allows people to use their brains, their strengths, and their personalities to engage with customers, to solve problems, and to get the job done in an excellent way.  You will be surprised that the more freedom you give, the more involved your team will be.  There will occasionally be an exception and you will coach and redirect to get them on track.  If not, you will invite that person to find their place elsewhere.
  • Learn.  Continue to be open to learning and revisioning.  Take time for reflection periodically. Respect the journey.  Understand that the concept is continuous improvement but remember to celebrate the milestones.
  • Decide.  Take some time to think about what kind of leader you want to be.  What style of leadership is most natural to you?  What style of leadership fits the different scenarios you find yourself in.

Quotes from, author of “It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy” -D. Michael Abrashoff,

“Previously, people were fighting to get off the ship.  Now they were fighting to stay aboard.  That kind of desire translates to performance.”

“The winning leader’s first principle is ‘Optimism rules.  And the corollary is ‘Opportunities never cease’.  The bottom line: It’s your ship.  Make it the best.”

“Decide your ship will be the best.  Repeat it to yourself and the team often. Eventually you both will believe it.  Sure, it is corny, but it works.  Confidence is infectious.”

“Confidence makes the difference.  Give someone a very special gift.  Build up their confidence, the confidence to succeed, by believing in them and their ability.”

Watch this video: “Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re In” by Simon Sinek

A Blank Piece of Paper

A Blank Piece of Paper

When you have a new project to delve into, you start with a blank piece of paper and a plan or idea that is nestled in your brain just waiting for action.  This could be a home project, a work project, or a very personal project.

So…what do you need to start?

  1.  Begin with the goal in mind.  What is it you are wanting to accomplish?  How complex is it?
  2. What time frame do want to accomplish it in?  Is it something that will just take a day or two or will it take weeks or months?
  3. Who else needs to be involved?  Do you need to gather information or input from other people?  Are their individuals who may be better at parts of the project than you who you can involve as helpers or advisors?
  4. Begin to write down the steps in the plan for your project or you can just jump in and then begin to formulate a more specific plan.
  5. What barriers will you run into?  Are you prepared to muscle through to the end goal?  What will you do to concentrate and stay focused on what needs to be accomplished?
  6. Who can you ask to keep you accountable or encourage you along the way? 
  7. How will you celebrate when it is done and the bow has been tied on the package?

Let’s begin with an example.  Suppose you need to analyze if you have stayed on your personal budget or not for the last quarter.  Here may be the steps that would work for that project.

  1.  The goal is to determine if you have stayed on budget or not.  Also, you want to know where there were deviations, if any, and how you can prevent them in the future.
  2. You would like to accomplish this task within a week’s time, 7 days.
  3. You may need to involve the keepers of the information you need – your spouse or partner, bank, credit card company, and other institutions.
  4. Some steps in the process may be:
    1. Gather spending information.
    1. Enter it into a spreadsheet.
    1. Compare it to your budget spreadsheet.
    1. Note where there are significant negative differences, e.g. 10% or more.
    1. Discuss with your partner.
    1. Determine an action plan.
    1. Implement action plan.
    1. Follow-through by checking back sooner, e.g. a month, instead of a quarter.
  5. You may have difficulty gathering some of the data if you haven’t kept good records.  You will need to think about how you can keep better records going forward.  If you have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand for long periods of time, block it out into 50-minute or 1-hour segments.
  6. If you are the spendthrift in your family, maybe you can ask a friend to talk to you about how you can pull back on your spending.  If your partner is the spendthrift, ask them to do the same thing.  It is probably not best to discuss this issue with your partner because they may be too critical.
  7. Celebrate by doing something for yourself that does not cost any money or is inexpensive – a day off to do nothing or whatever you want, a time alone with a book, a walk in a beautiful place, listening to music while driving with the top down, taking your child to the park, taking your family for that walk with you, exploring a destination place near you – a museum, a botanical garden, a downtown, etc.

Now, that you have this project under your belt, you can take out a blank piece of paper and begin your next one.  Enjoy the journey!

Self Awareness

Leadership Skill:  Self-Awareness

Every leader goes through many stages of development, which typically begins with taking a fresh look at yourself as a leader.  During the first stage, you listen and learn from everyone and every situation.  The second stage involves beginning to prove yourself as a leader, especially in your decision-making and problem-solving skills.  By the third stage you begin to have successes and deliver results based on the potential others saw in you. The fourth stage is when you start to question your abilities, especially when something has set you back a bit.

After a few iterations of the other stages, you enter the 5th stage – the one where you exhibit a little more maturity as a leader.  You discover a sense of humility and humor – the stage where you realize that those you surround yourself with are just as important, if not more so, than you are.

In a Forbes article by Chinwe Esimai titled “Great Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness” she states that self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop.  Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or to compensate for them.

Key points:

  1. Know yourself.  How self-aware are you?  How keen is your emotional intelligence, that ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others?  How are you effectively using that awareness to manage your behavior and relationships?
  • Identify external factors that trigger both negative and positive behaviors by you and toward you.  What is the impact of culture on your and others’ perceptions?
  • Gather trusted feedback to help you understand the impact of your actions on others.  Are you unaware of your blind spots that may limit your effectiveness as a leader?
  • Consider the circumstances by thinking about when to utilize a personality trait to your advantage and when it’s best to leave it on the sidelines.  Most self-aware leaders have learned to identify their natural tendencies and have adjusted their behavior in some way, in order to change how they are perceived.  They did not change their personality, but they did learn how to change their behavior, when needed, in both business and personal situations.
  • Assess behaviors in light of your values and priorities by being honest about what tendencies you would like to change and which ones you would like to build upon.  The best outcome of self-awareness is to figure out what makes you great and be more of the excellent you.
  • Stay curious about yourself and others.  Curiosity will help you continually learn, grow, and develop as an effective leader.

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

What transformational leader is lying silent in you, encompassing all of the talents and gifts that can enable you to become the next-generation you? – Robert McMillan

“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

Workplace Big Five Overview

Autobell has selected to utilize the Workplace Big Five Personality Assessment tool to help you be more self-aware as a leader.  It can also be used as a coaching tool by your boss or mentor.

Q1   What is the Workplace Big Five?

A1   The Five Factor Model was developed by research psychologists during the 1980’s.  What set it apart from other personality assessments was that it was done in the modern age utilizing high-powered computer analytics.  Other assessments utilized in the business world were typically developed before WWII.  The psychologists were from across the U.S. and concluded through extensive lexical factor analysis that five concepts embrace the nearly 18,000 words which describe personality traits found in the English language. These over-arching terms are need for stability (response to stress), extraversion (response to stimuli), openness (to change and new experiences), agreeableness (accommodation), and conscientiousness (consolidation and planning).

Q2   What is the purpose?

A2   The results can be used for multiple purposes – hiring, promotion, career development, and leadership coaching, among a few.  The reports describe who the individual as a unique personality.  Each person is complex and exhibits various dimensions of personality within the five super traits and the twenty-three sub-traits.   It is important to note that the reports are just ONE piece of information used in assessing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Q3   What if I feel that some of my scores are ‘bad’?

A3   There are no good and bad scores.  Everyone is a star – a five-point star.  Your strengths allow you to do at least one thing better than almost anyone else.  Working from your strengths in approaching work, relationships, and challenges will allow you to succeed.   Reference:   “First, Break All the Rules” and “The One Thing You Need to Know” by Marcus Buckingham.

Q4   How does my personality impact my team?

A4   The results help the you explore your unique personality styles.  It gives you a basis to observe others and how their personalities are exhibited in the workplace. Some of the sub-traits which impact teamwork are intensity, interpretation, warmth, sociability, and others’ needs.

Q5   What if I disagree with my results?

A5   One possibility is that you may not be as self-aware as you think you are.  Ask others close to you if your results describe who you are.  If you still question your super-trait scores, it may be because one of your sub-factor scores is higher or lower.  There is also the possibility that you were not honest in your responses to the questions or that your answers were polarized (extremely different for the same type of situation).  Further exploration and explanation may be needed.

Q6  What if I don’t like my results?

A6   We all have areas we want to improve and develop.  That is natural, just like someone with a stockier build wishes to be thinner and someone who is wiry wishes to have more bulk or strength.  It is probably not worth an extreme amount of effort to try to change who they are (60% nature, 40% nurture).  How can you work around what you consider a weakness or area for development?

Q7   For example, I know that I have to be detail-oriented every day, yet my score shows I have high scope (not detail-oriented).  Why?

A7   These scores represent who they are most of the time.  Mid-range scores may mean that your responses are situational.  In the example above, you are capable of doing details well.  We can all do things out of our comfort zone for a short period.  Nonetheless, it is probably not a good idea to have a job that requires you to perform well in that area all day.

Q8   What if my scores are very different from my boss or my managers?

A8   As a rule of thumb, if there is a 10-point or more difference in your score and someone else’s score for a factor or sub-factor, there is a potential for conflict.  That does not mean it is negative conflict.  It just means you will have a difference of opinion about some things.  That is okay.  In fact, challenging each other and bringing different skills and abilities and personalities to the table will help the team overall.  It is good for a team to have diversity in personality and personality factors.  Less than optimum decisions are made when everyone thinks alike.  

Q9  Will my scores change over time?

A9   Scores will not change significantly unless many years have passed since the last report or if you have experienced a significant life event.  As we get older, typically our scores have slight changes – N score increases (less impervious to stress), E score decreases (less extraverted), O score decreases (less open to change), A score increases (more accommodating), and C score increases (more conscientious).

Q10  What if one or more of my scores is extremely low or high?

A10  If a score is in the lowest 7% or the highest 7%, you need to be aware that 93% of other team members will not be like you.  For example, if you are an extreme perfectionist, it may be difficult for you to delegate to others because you don’t believe they will be able to perform the task correctly.

BRH January 3, 2022

When you think you don’t have the time…

When you think you are just too busy to even think about down time, that is the time you need to do something about it. Do it anyway.

The little things matter. Here is a list of things you can do with little bits of moments – things that will make your day better.

  1. Try to make someone smile.
  2. Write a thank you note – you know the old-fashioned, hand-written one.
  3. Plan a mini-vacation. Something to look forward to can be powerful medicine.
  4. Medidate – try the app MNDFL.
  5. Look out the window.
  6. Roll down the windows while driving in your vehicle.
  7. Go to a favorite place nearby.
  8. Sit by the pool or a body of water.
  9. Watch a sunrise or sunset.
  10. Take a walk in the park.
  11. Walk in the rain.
  12. Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
  13. Pet your dog or cat.
  14. Do something therapeutic – sing, dance, paint, create something.
  15. Play with a young child.
  16. Kiss your sweetheart.
  17. Read an uplifting book, magazine, or article.
  18. Listen to uplifting music.
  19. Go for a bike ride.
  20. Listen to outdoor life.

Try a few items on this list or create your own list. You will be amazed at the new energy and focus you have! Don’t take my word for it. Try it! Now!

Lessons Learned in 2020

  1. If you love where you live and who you live with, isolation is a piece of cake. 
  2. If you have down days, and you will, the morning will usually wash those feelings away. 
  3. You can do with less. 
  4. Vision for the long term helps. This too will end. 
  5. Reaching out, connecting with others, and helping and supporting others is one way to stay sane. 
  6. Having a purpose each day is important. 
  7. Projects, projects, projects. They keep you busy and focused. 
  8. Faith and hope are key. 
  9. There are things you can control and things you cannot. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. 
  10. Writing your thoughts, especially your gratitude, can be a good way to spend your time and energy. 
  11. Capitalize on opportunities that present themselves, e.g. investing in a new hobby or interest. 
  12. Spend as much time as you can outdoors doing something active, if you are able. 
  13. Stress brings out more of who people really are. 

2020 taught a lot of us good lessons. Some were harder to learn than others. It certainly will make facing the rest of 2021 easier. Hope you take a few minutes to enjoy each day, look around you, and encourage the people who are important to you!

BRH

Appreciation

Appreciation – Recognition of good points, good qualities of something or someone.

What does this word inspire in you?  Does it make you feel validated?  Worthwhile?  Very rarely do we feel that others notice what we do and our contributions.  If you begin to notice others’ contributions and tell them so, it can be the beginning of creating an environment of appreciation.  Have you told your customers you appreciate them?  Your peers?  Your manager?  Your friends? Your family members?  Be creative about the way you say “thank you”.  Small things matter and are impactful.  Give someone a note or a small gift.  Tell them specifically what you appreciate about them.  Take the time to reflect on who and what you appreciate.  Say “thanks” with your words and your actions.

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you.  Express your appreciation sincerely without the expectation of anything in return.  Truly appreciate those around you and you’ll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” – Ralph Marston

BRH

How to be a good communicator at work

Top Things to Remember about Being a Good Communicator at Work

  1. Be a good listener. Make the effort to listen to your boss, your teammates, and your customers.  Don’t be the person who over-chats to the extent that your fellow team members begin to avoid you.
  2. Be positive. Minimize the negatives. Play up the positives.  Make sure your tone and body language match that positivity.
  3. Encourage new team members. Be welcoming.  Help the new person fit in.
  4. Give others a heads up. Tell other employees what you know.  You may know something about the work that they don’t.
  5. Be a friend. Be friendly but stay professional.
  6. Have a sense of humor. It is good to have a sense of humor just make sure your humor is not hurtful and is not aimed at another person.

“THINK before you speak.

T – is it true, H – is it helpful, I – is it inspiring, N – is it necessary, and K – is it kind?”

– Author Unknown

Top Ten Team Member Qualities

“What are the top qualities or attributes you would look for in a good employee, (whether it is someone who would work for you or as a peer)?”  During a personal survey asking this question, here is what I discovered:

  1. Dependable, reliable – you can be depended upon, you do what you say you are going to do.
  2. Honest, integrity – you tell the truth even when you have made a misstep, you are trustworthy.
  3. Hard-working – you put in your best effort.
  4. Gets along with customers and co-workers – you are pleasant and harmonious in your interactions with others.
  5. Takes initiative – when you see something that needs to be done, you do it.
  6. Willingness to learn, motivated to learn – you learn something new every day.
  7. Personable – you are sociable, but professional.
  8. Knowledgeable, educated – you know your stuff.
  9. Desire to please – you want to satisfy your boss and your customers.
  10. Straightforward – your communication is clear, honest, and easy to understand.

As I continued to ask the same question, the list did not get any longer.

BRH

Career – a job or profession someone does for a long time

The operative word in the definition of career is “long”.   You need to find, if you have not already, the work you want to do for a long time.  I know very few people who choose their career from the start.  One of the funny lines about careers – “The reason adults ask young children what they want to be when they grow up is because they are looking for hints”.

Typically careers take a meandering path.  Recently at the pool, our older grandson told a perfect stranger that he wanted to live on a ranch out west, design video games, and teach fencing when he is an adult.  The younger grandson, not to be outdone, said “I want to be a sushi restaurant owner.”  We shall see what the future holds.

You may know someone who got their degree in one thing but the opportunities took them somewhere else.  We would hope that ‘somewhere else’ sparked something in them and that they enjoy what they do.

You know your job is well-suited if:

  1. Everything comes naturally.  In other words, you know what to do next in differing situations but you don’t know why you know.  It just flows out of you.
  2. You receive consistently positive feedback.  The things you do and the results you achieve receive high praise.
  3. You find co-workers you are in-sync with.  This is the opposite of feeling odd-man-out.  Being in-sync with those you work with and your work environment is especially gratifying.  You know you are in the right place at the right time with the right people.
  4. You are passionate about what you are doing.  You are having fun because you know the work you are doing matters.  Every positive impact you have on others brings you great joy.
  5. Pay is not the most important thing.  Because you are being allowed to use the competencies and skills that energize you; the money is secondary.
  6. You can be you.  You don’t have to pretend.  It feels good because who you really are can shine through.

One story…

Kay was in the television industry.  She worked her way up to managing a t.v. station, putting in long hours and great effort to make it a success.  She was a high-achiever.  The people she was working with loved her.  But… something was missing.  After great angst, she left the industry and moved to Chile for a couple of years teaching English as a second language at an elementary school.  She discovered she loved working with children and loved teaching.  That is what was missing for her.  She completed her Masters in Education (previous degree had been in communications) while working at a predominantly-Spanish-speaking elementary school in Boston.  When she graduated, she accepted a teacher position in a 2nd grade classroom in a small town outside of Boston. Her career and path to true success was launched!  She has been happily teaching full-time for five years.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

“It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don’t love.  Do what you love and love what you do.” –  Israelmore Ayiyor