Sanguineness is in… The importance of wise, effective, and confident leadership

Have you ever worked in an environment where the leaders you encountered were not wise or effective?  In such a culture, you are constantly questioning why you are here and what you should be doing.  Conversely in a work arena in which wise and effective leaders abound, you know exactly why you are there and what you should be doing.  In addition, you even know how performing a task in a specific way helps the organization achieve its goals.

Wise leaders have several important characteristics. They are:

  • Willing to go the extra mile for you, the customer, and the organization.
  • Interested in others as much or more than themselves.
  • Curious about who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to challenge you in using your strengths.
  • Savvy in interacting with others internally and externally to get the support and resources to get the job done.
  • Effective in accomplishing the high impact priorities.  They don’t allow the unimportant tasks to distract them from making a difference.

When I have worked for wise leaders, I believed they were interested in my ideas, my contributions, and my team. Measuring time, counting tasks, and making themselves look good were not important.  They were unselfish and well-tuned to their own values and those of the organization.   Examples of things that wise leaders do.

  • Demonstrate good judgment by getting the facts and others’ input before making decisions.
  • Show proper respect for others by being courteous and considerate.  They understand the importance of representing what the organization stands for – internally and externally.
  • Act as the harmonious leader to bring all the parts together in a sagacious way, while still holding others accountable.
  • Use their mental agility to be aware of potential problems and act prudently when problems do occur
  • Keep confidences.  They are discreet in their dealings with others.
  • Keep themselves Informed about internal and external news that may impact the organization.
  • Keep an open mind.  They are like the Dalai Lama – enlightened.
  • Stay on their toes about their field of knowledge, ensuring they don’t become irrelevant.  They remain equipped and ready for whatever comes.
  • Nimble and dexterous in moving from task to task, person to person, team to team.
  • Act judiciously when there is conflict.  Their ethics are never in question.
  • Exercise a sensitive sense of humor.  They don’t take themselves too seriously.

Quotes from the Dalai Lama:

“To carry out a positive action, we must develop a positive vision.”

“Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.”

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”

“Too much self-centered attitude brings isolation.  Result:  loneliness, fear, anger.   The extreme self-centered attitude brings suffering.”

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity”.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

BRH

Mindfulness: Mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.

As we begin 2017 and continue our saga together, it is a good time to think about mindfulness.  Mindful people and leaders are focused, kind, and authentic but not complacent or soft, even tough when they need to be.  Their passion can be fierce.  They will hold you accountable for commitments and will not avoid difficult conversations.  They will encourage you to stretch beyond your capacity.  These seem like excellent behaviors to model.

Research reveals that mindful individuals, those focused on the present moment and the present task at hand, have greater attention control, self-awareness, and emotional regulation, and get better results.

Here are few things you need to know about how to become more mindful, in the moment:

  • Learn how to be present.   Breath slowly and deeply.  Key in on what you are observing, noticing details that you would not have otherwise noticed.  Listen closely.  Engage all your senses.  It sounds cheesy but it works.  Mindfulness is the opposite of absentmindedness or automatic responses.
  • When you face a challenge or crisis, choose responsibility, compassion, and generosity. Inspire others to become better people by setting the example. Be 100% accountable for what happens next. Be that co-worker, friend, or leader who is calm and resourceful during the storm.
  • Be open to feedback.  Be fully aware as you take actions that are outside the values you have established for yourself.  Accept feedback with grace and humility rather than reactivity.
  • Recognize that you are tuned-in, connected, and engaged.  Every word you speak, every action you take has a tangible impact on everyone else.  You make a difference – good or bad – in your world.
  • Adopt a beginner’s mind rather than an expert’s mind.  Look at everything with fresh eyes, as if you had not seen what is going on around you before.   A beginner’s mind makes us more intelligent, not less.  We still take our knowledge with us.  A beginner’s mind keeps us from falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Empower others to shine.  A good co-worker and leader empowers his/her team members to shine, rather than taking credit for all that is done.  Affirm others by letting them know they are appreciated, capable enough, and worthy.  Truly see the good skills, behaviors, and compassion in others.  Help them become their best selves.

This is a great time of the year to practice mindfulness.  Examples of mindfulness:

For yourself:

  • As you drink a cup of hot chocolate, feel the warmth of the mug, taste the richness of the flavors, think about how it makes you feel.
  • As you observe someone you know in a concert, play, or recital, look at the faces, engage in the experience, and smile at those you are enjoying it with.
  • Whether you have young children or not, go to the park or the mall and observe.
  • When you are outdoors, look at the sky, feel the breeze, and watch the birds.

For those at home:

  • Look at their eyes when they are sharing an experience.  Hear what they are saying.  Try not to think about your response, simply engage in what they are saying.
  • Be there when they want to talk.

For those at work – employees or customers:

  • Look at the person when they are talking; listen, observe.  Hold back on responding for just a moment.
  • Recognize each person as a unique human being.

In summary, take each moment as a mindful, focused, in-the-moment individual and use it to persevere in moving forward.

Reference: “The Mindful Leader: 7 practices for transforming your leadership, your organization, and your life” by Michael Bunting

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”

– Zig Ziglar

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. – Socrates

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches 

but to reveal to him his own. – Benjamin Disraeli

Randomness

Have you been walking, riding in your car, or riding your bike and spot ONE blue reflector in a very random spot on the road or in a parking lot?  When I saw one recently, I thought about randomness and how it impacts the workplace, especially if you are in a leadership role.

  1. You may hire a great new employee because at that moment, they walked in the door, you got that referral, or they clicked on your job ad. The right person at the right time for the right job could just be because of a random event.
  2. The weather changes constantly. It impacts attitudes, outlooks, and moods.  It impacts business – negatively and positively.
  3. Events occur that bring people (customers) to you or take people away from you – vacation times, travel times, construction, local events, traffic pattern changes. These events may only impact you directly or indirectly, e.g. a decision-maker you need to reach is temporarily unavailable.
  4. Events in employees’ lives impact how they focus on work or not. It impacts whether they are emotionally stable and engaged in the work they are doing.  Major life events are a huge distraction to productivity.
  5. And of course, there are many other examples of random ups and downs that impact you as a leader.

Here are some things you can do to better cope with the unexpected:

  1. Be flexible. Bend without breaking.  Modify your approach when circumstances change.
  2. Minimize your negative reactions. Quick reactions may be good if they are positive reactions that help you effectively cope with the situation.  Laughter is good medicine in the face of chaos.
  3. Check in to your moods. If you are impacted by a lack of sunlight, do something to energize yourself – walk around, engage in conversation, go outside (with an umbrella if necessary), drink coffee, change what you are doing more frequently.
  4. Plan for the down times. When you and your team are less busy, have a to-do list ready.  There are always things you have put on the back burner than need your attention.

Randomness, ups and downs, and chaos will always be a part of life.  Despite this unpredictableness, you need to remain positive and to keep moving forward.

“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature.” – Eric Hoffer

Planning

Planning….what can I say?  If you don’t plan, nothing happens right.  If you don’t follow through on your plan, nothing happens.

Keep in mind these simple guidelines.

  • Determine where you want to go.  What is your vision?  Why is it important?
  • Decide who you want to take with you.  Remember, you can’t achieve success alone.  Which individuals or teams are important to your success?   How is it best to involve them?
  • Choose how you can best get there.  How do you redirect the organization through communication and actions?  How do you send the most impactful and clear message?
  • Anticipate obstacles.  What could go wrong?  How can you best recognize and respond to things that go wrong?
  • Agree upon the initiatives that will help you achieve great results.  Be as specific as possible.  Don’t use vague language or timeframes. What are the first priorities?  Who are the champions and the implementers?  What skills need to be honed during the journey?  Are there ways to test changes you want to make, e.g. in one location or one department before you expand to the entire organization?
  • Check in throughout the process. How are you doing?  Who needs to be recognized and who needs to be redirected?
  • Document and celebrate your results.  What is the best way to complete the communication loop?  How can you best celebrate milestones?
  • Repeat.  What is the right amount of time that needs to be allowed before you start over again?  What changes do you need to make in the process?

Sounds simple enough but it requires creativity and diligence.  Don’t drop the ball. Ask key players to help you stay on track.  Planning and implementation go hand in hand.  Make it happen together!

“Productivity is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein

BRH

Teamwork vs Individualism: Using Professional Empathy to be a Better Coworker

In the workplace of today, teamwork is common, even mandatory, and generally accepted as best practice in a dynamic work environment.   That being said, the spirit of individualism is alive and well and can lead to moments of tension or awkwardness.  Striking the proper balance between teamwork and individual expression can be difficult.

You have probably experienced individualism push back against teamwork both ways – on the giving and receiving ends.  When someone steps into your work territory your hackles go up.  When you offer help to someone (or even more just do a coworker’s task without prior discussion) you are very surprised (even shocked) when they are not happy about it.

Why in the world would someone not want your input, ideas, creativity, and possibly even genius thoughts to be brought to the table?  There are several possible reasons.  They:

  1. Have their own ideas about the task or project.
  2. Don’t want to appear incompetent or like they need help.  They are concerned about perceptions of their boss or peers.
  3. Are a little bit insecure.
  4. Know their role, have been doing it for a while and are comfortable with the established boundaries.

These same points can be used to measure your reaction as well.  Maybe you are able to see the big picture better than others.  You may understand and appreciate the advantages of hearing, seeing, and experiencing others’ ideas.  Even if this is so, it can still feel strange and awkward when you sense a trespasser.  If this is something you can identify with, use that to help generate a sense of professional empathy.  If someone bristles at your help, then think about why you would bristle at someone else’s help and proceed with caution.

Beware!  When you are helping someone in your organization and you are entering someone else’s territory without permission (or even with permission – vocally or by omission) you may not get the appreciation you think you deserve and you may leave behind a bad taste.

Yes, walls need to be broken down sometimes.  Yes, problems need to be solved creatively. And, yes, collaboration is a good thing.  But tread softly the first time.  Be sensitive to others being hurt or offended.

Ensure that you are working toward a common goal and not just pushing your agenda. I will leave you with these suggested steps in the collaborative process:

  1. Assess the situation.  Be aware of the personalities involved, especially those who have more competitive personalities.
  2. Secure permission to be involved.
  3. Be flexible while being a part of the process and solution.
  4. Allow time for discussion, feedback, and debriefing.

 

BRH

 

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.” – Ronald Reagan

The Who, What, Why, and How of Personality Assessments

I am a big fan of personality assessments used in the workplace or for any type of teambuilding.  We use this tool often in our work. Besides being plain ol’ fun, it provides individuals, teammates, and supervisors insight they would not otherwise have.

 

Who?

The assessment can be used for individual employees, teams, boards, groups or even families.

 

What?

A personality profile describes who you are as a unique person. The assessment we have chosen to use is the Workplace Big Five. It provides general information (see two sample assessments below) about each person who completes the assessment questionnaire based on 5 essential personality characteristics.  Each individual will get scores in the following categories:

  • Need for Stability
  • Extraversion
  • Originality
  • Accommodation
  • Consolidation

The assessment only takes 15 minutes, but, if the individual doesn’t overthink their responses and goes with their first response, reveals much. We learn, among many other things:

  • How they respond to stress.
  • Whether they are stimulated by people and activity or not.
  • Whether they are open to change or prefer the status quo.
  • How they respond to authority.
  • How much they plan.
  • How each of these characteristics interacts with the other.

 

Why?

The purpose of completing the assessment can be multi-fold or for one aim:

  • Selection
  • Promotion
  • Validation
  • Development
  • Conflict resolution
  • Collaboration

It is always helpful for each individual who participates to become more self-aware of his/her personality, individuality, competencies and motivations. There are no good or bad scores. The results help the individual explore their unique personality styles, how their personality exhibits itself in the workplace, and how it helps them relate to team members.

In a group setting, it is so freeing to see how you are alike and different from your teammates. If someone discovers she has a low ‘warmth’ score, she might become more conscious of how this effects her encounters with others. Conversely, there are ah-ha moments such as “Oh, ______ is not acting like that to get under my skin, that is just who she is.”

The estimate is that 60% of your personality is based on who you were at birth (nature), while 40% is based on what has occurred since then (nurture). The old adage, “A tiger can’t change its stripes” comes to mind. Did you know that under the tiger’s fur, the skin is also striped? The interpretation is that we can’t change our essential nature. We are who we are down to the skin. Nonetheless, being self-aware can make all the difference in the world.

 

How?

If you would like to learn more about assessments and how they can be used with coaching or teaching, we would love to hear from you anytime!

BRH

 

Powers & Associates is certified to assess the The WorkPlace Big Five by:

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WorkPlace Big Five Assessment Samples

See a sample trait report here:  Trait Report

See a sample narrator report here:   Narrator Report

 

Curiosity…helped…the cat?

Curiosity (n):  A strong desire to know or learn something; inquisitiveness.

 

One of the key characteristics of a learning leader is to be curious.  If you don’t have a strong Curiosity Quotient (CQ), you won’t go far.  I find in the world in general that there is a lack of curiosity.

Is it diminishing?   

We are more curious as children so we do need to try to keep that child-like curiosity alive and well.  If you are curious, you are interested in everything and everybody.

Is curiosity a natural or developed skill?

I would say … ‘yes’.  You probably have a natural tendency to be curious or not.  But you can train yourself to look around at to your situation and ask questions.  Where did he come from?  What is this data saying to me?  How does this piece of equipment work?

 

Those leaders who are naturally inquisitive want to know about the people they engage with everyday.  They want to know best practices of their competitors.  The want to know about the latest and greatest technology available to them.

 

When we complete personality assessments, we can learn about the individual’s curiosity if we look a little deeper:

  1.  Are they a good listener?
  2.  Do they naturally investigate problems by asking lots of questions?
  3.  Are they open to change and serendipity and exploration?
  4.  Do they focus on the moment as much as they focus on the future?
  5.  Are they willing to make mistakes and take risks that will teach them new things?
  6.  Do they build time into their overwrought schedule to think?
  7.  Do they put their ego aside and value others who have talents they don’t have?

 

How curious are you?  How curious can you become?

Let’s be clear, though, curiosity can be a practiced part of your day.  As part of your morning routine, write out 5 good hard questions you don’t readily have an answer for and keep them in mind as you move through your day.  Answering one of these questions might be as easy as Googling the answer and making an effort to memorize or retain the answer.  It may be that you need to use your life’s human resources (friends, family, coworkers) to work out an answer.  It may be that you need to meditate on the question to get some guidance, to hold on to it until you have a better sense of how to approach it and what method to find the answer. Needless to say if you approach your day through the lens of curiosity, you will doubtless expand your horizons and invite even more questions to answer.

 

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

 

“The human brain made us curious and creative.  Those were the characteristics that gave us an advantage – curiosity, creativity, and memory.  And that brain did something very special. It invented an idea called the future.” – David SuzukiScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.42.49 PM