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The Leadership Journey

The Leadership Journey

Nineteen people came together as individuals – working for the same organization but not with a great deal of knowledge about each other.

In a mere two days, they had moved from individuals to three healthy, dynamic and supportive teams.  It felt good participating in and witnessing this coming together and the blossoming of something new.

The first day was setting some frameworks for how they wished their team to work together and the values they wished to live by.

They also learnt about themselves – their strengths and limiters and how significant others such as their manager, colleagues and direct reports actually saw them back in their workplace.

Feedback is never easy especially when it is tinged with what we could improve on. But these nineteen resolute and amazing team members took it in their stride.

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Leading and Living through Change

Life happens.

Things don’t always go according to plan.

No wonder John Lennon, and some wise people before him have said, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”

And yet when the unexpected happens, it invariably throws us and we react.

Our reactions

Depending on the nature of the surprise and the change we have to deal with, our reactions vary.

It can range from being shocked to “how did all this happen?” As a senior leader put it, “I was blindsided and did not see this one coming at all!”

Other common reactions include anger, blame and bargaining (If only…), resistance and denial to finally acceptance and hope.

Understanding the process

Early in my career, in my work as a Clinical Psychologist, I was working with people going through profound change including grief and loss.  We often drew from the wisdom of Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”

Getting out of the depths takes time and we need to allow our inner being to be able to do this. But this is not always easy!

Change in Organisations 

Given the VUCA world we operate in now, change is a constant.   We have barely adapted to one major organisational/industry change when other is on the way.

Actually, it is even more than this.  We are having to deal with multiple shifts and changes simultaneouly.

If I look back to the ninties working as a consultant in large scale change management projects, we used to run workshops  on “Being change ready.”

This almost seems an outdated concept now as change like our mobile phones is  almost always, ON!

SARAH Model

This popular model which we use in the business setting reminds us of the different stages of the change response:

·      Shock

·      Anger

·      Resistance

·      Acceptance, and

·      Healing/Hope

Manager/ Leader challenge

If you are a manager/leader it can be triply challenging as you deal with the change yourself and having to lead and manage teams and the organisation at the same time.

Being patient and mindful that people have different processing time and supporting people through the various stages above is vital…..whilst at the same time keeping the momentum of the required change happening!

Another leadership paradox to learn and live!

Navigating the depths

So how about you?

How do you best deal with change, especially when it is not of your making and gets imposed on you?

Can you draw on a time when you were able to come through the change even stronger?  When you thrived not just survived?

What emotionally intelligent attitude and behaviours enabled this?

I look forward to your thoughts and experience of this.

Afterthought:  A conversation between Swami Vivekanand and Ramkrishna Paramahansa
Swami Vivekanand: “In tough times, how do you stay motivated?”
Ramkrishna Paramahansa: “Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.”

Are You Guilty of Neglecting the People Who Matter the Most?

Have you noticed how when you are busy, under pressure and feeling pulled from all directions, you get into a different zone of doing things.

In fact, it is not just our communication which changes but our whole persona!

I call it the zone of delivery – fast action, ticking the boxes and basically getting things done.  While this is not bad in itself as after all we do get paid to deliver, we also lose out on some other important things.

In order to do the above and focus, we close out some other essential and enriching parts of our personalities and lives.

As one client of mine put it, “ I have to close off to my feelings and other sensitivities when I am in this zone of focus.”

Well – do we?

Do we really have to close off to our feelings and emotions?

“When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life.” – Tara Meyer Robson

You see, our feelings and emotions are a vital source of information and when we close this out, we lose out on this vital feedback loop.

In our business relationships:

·     We may miss the listening we need to really hear the other person and their viewpoint which while different may also expand our thinking to be more cognizant of the bigger picture

·     We push the other person away and they end up feeling unheard, even disrespected

·     Empathy (doesn’t mean agreement) gets compromised

·     We can come across like automatons and disconnected, insensitive and or indifferent

·     Our antenna for a team member or colleague needing support gets missed

·     We lose out in opportunities to engage others by addressing theirs and our own feelings and emotions

·     In fact, we can miss out on the important signs and signals of what is really going on in the team and the larger business

·     Opportunities to influence significant stakeholder in helpful ways can also get overlooked

Similarly also in our personal relationships:

·     We can forget to communicate what is really going on for us and sharing our thoughts and feelings in a way that is still inclusive of our loved ones even if we are going through a particularly demanding phase

·     The opportunities for little words of encouragement and kindness said at the right time in the right way and which can make a world of difference get overlooked

·     We can even bring the business persona home and forget to switch off reaching out instead to other means of de-stressing and being balanced.

·     Our loved ones can start to feel neglected and secondary to our work

·     Instead of growing our relationships, distance, disengagement and chasms can widen. We end up building a wall and get into a pattern of not sharing our vulnerabilities.

So what can help?

Here are 13 emotionally intelligent things you can be more mindful of and implement. 

Clearly this is a lot to absorb but even if you pick one and consciously implemented that on a weekly basis, you may just surprise yourself with the results!

1.    Be mindful of your own state including your body signals and other basic needs so stress and cortisol levels do not become rampant

2.    Make time for some fun and stress release activities be it that run, swim, walk in nature, taking in a movie with your loved one, Friday afternoon drinks with your team or celebratory lunch

3.    Be aware of your moods and emotions and communicate to significant others and your team members and colleagues of your current demands.  Once people know they can even become supportive partners with your goals and current needs

4.    Work on balancing achieving results whilst also considering others’ needs. At least listen to them or make time with them when you can do this

5.    Involve others and encourage them to also express their thoughts and feeling and opinions – make it a culture where emotions and feelings are not left at home but rather form the rich palate in your decision making

6.    Don’t forget to acknowledge and recognize others’ hard work and input

7.    Reflect on your feelings also when making decisions

8.    Stay open and wide (we get tunnel vision when too zeroed in) and take the bigger picture into consideration in decision making

9.    If you are under the gun, it is very likely so are the other members of your team.  As a leader, before focusing on the agenda and how projects are tracking, go around the group and each team member shares “where they are at.” This enables people to express their feelings so they are not sitting on things.

10. Be willing to share your own authentic feelings e.g. “My concern about this is that”…..or “I feel we may not be as customer focused as we can be by…..”

11. As the leader during tough times, your people will be especially looking to you as to how you are coping and reacting. Be willing to share your authentic story including any feelings of “appropriate” vulnerability. This helps build more trust in the team

12. Make a conscious effort to involve and engage people in decisions that affect their work. The rewards will be worth it as it adds to your and your organizations emotional and financial bottom-line

13. With your family and friends, remember the small touches and few words can go a long way – be it words of love, encouragement, gift/token of appreciation or tender touch!

Both in our personal and professional lives we are more whole and fuller when we bring the best of our head (IQ), heart (EQ) and spirit (SQ).

It is not one or the other – we need to integrate the best of them all.

 

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Leadership Nuggets: Acknowledge the Truth


Three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth! – Buddha

Have you had a time when someone – be it a colleague, direct report, supplier or friend who was not quite performing or was behaving in ways that was below par?

And yet you found yourself minimizing, negating or making excuses for their behaviour? You would not be the only one! I too have done this on many occasions, much to my own detriment.

Why?

Well – we do this for a number of “good” reasons because seeing, acknowledging and taking action on the truth, as we experience it, isn’t always comfortable.

Let me give you a work example.

Leader denial and lack of accountability

Some years back, I coached a senior executive whose direct report was very good at ‘hitting the targets’ but his modus operandi left a lot to be desired.

The feedback and “air-waves” from his team and others consistently was that the he was a bully.

Teamwork, collaboration, empathy, ‘developmental conversations’ did not figure in this person’s language.

What was present was manipulation, veiled and not so veiled threats, pressure tactics and even down right lying when it suited the direct report, which was often

Despite leading a dysfunctional team with lots of turnover and staff rotation, my coachee – his boss – would not fully acknowledge the situation.

Why was this, you may ask?

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Leadership: 5 Keys to Focus your Authentic Legacy Story

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.” —Steve Saint

It was a leisurely Spring Saturday morning as we drove out. On the way, we decided to visit the local farmers market down St. George’s Bay Road in Parnell.

It was kind of relaxing milling around with all the other committed market goers and some tourists along with the regular stall owners with their delicious and varied offerings.

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