“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to teach someone something, and they just don’t get it or take action on it. After all, the job of a leader is to get people to do something, not simply to know something. You can get people to act by a variety of methods: demanding, coercing, guilting, shaming, pleading, motivating, inspiring, convincing, reasoning, tricking, etc. However, the best ways to get people to do something focus on helping them see outside the box – to think expansively about themselves, others, and the opportunities in front of them.
As a leader, it’s imperative that you know the challenges your team or clients face. (For the purposes of clarity, within this article, I’ll refer to those that you lead as your “followers”.) Here are three common, but very critical, life and business skills that followers, especially Millenials and Gen Xers, need to improve today, plus suggestions on how you get them to see outside the box on each one…
1. Clear communication skills. Many people grow up in families plagued by communication gaps, so it’s not surprising that they lack communication skills as adults. People often imagine that they know what the other person means. Between the two extremes – droning on without revealing anything or speaking cryptically and leaving out critical information – there is a sweet spot of communicating with clarity and completeness of thought.
Help your followers see that clear communication stems from respect for others, acknowledging that everyone has something of value to offer. When they understand they have a common purpose, they’ll want to give all the relevant information others need to excel in their portion of the job.
2. Self-worth and self-motivation. People internalize too much – they confuse doing something with being something. As a result, they don’t trust themselves; they constantly wait for others to tell them what to do. Through your words and actions, you can intentionally plant seeds of growth that replace their limiting doubts.
Help your followers develop mindfulness, so they can assess themselves accurately. Let them see that you believe in them. As you guide them from the sidelines, reinforce that each step forward is important. This will add to their self-confidence and self-trust.
3. Critical thinking. Critical or analytical thinking requires a person to slow down and gather information and then see its importance in relation to other information. It involves recognizing the cause and effect of a certain course of action. It takes a lot of effort to weed out irrelevant information and distill the important information into actionable and insightful recommendations.
Help your followers become more curious by encouraging them to have the self-discipline to dig deeply. They do this by asking “why?” over and over, until the subject is thoroughly understood. Make sure they ask “why?” from their own standpoint and also from an opposing viewpoint. This will help them become aware of any biases they might have.
These simple, but powerful, suggestions can help you get your followers to finally take action and do something with the training you give. Are you striving to improve your leadership skills? What challenges you the most? Please come over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts. Also, in September, my colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” ~ Rosa Parks
When you look at a powerful, inspiring leader, you’re seeing the results of her years of growing into her leadership skills. Behind her polished appearance are tears, disappointments, frustrations, and hard-learned lessons. She has experienced hiccups in her plans, inadequacies in her preparation, and unseen circumstances that sidelined her attempts. But she kept striving to improve until she achieved excellence. You can do the same by applying the principles of thoughtful leadership.
How the principles of thoughtful leadership can make a good leader into an excellent leader…
Practice. Every skill is learned through practice; the same is true of leadership. Even if you don’t think you have a natural ability to lead, you can practice, practice, practice, until it becomes a part of you.
A major area to work on is your ability to make decisions quickly and wisely. You may be good at quick decisions, but are they always good ones? If not, don’t give up. Lean into decision-making. View each decision as a practice run and pay attention to the consequences. Ask yourself why it turned out well or why it didn’t. That’s how you learn, if you don’t take yourself too seriously.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the advice to “fail early and fail often,” even though I don’t think of anything as failure. Life is a journey full of lessons, because often you’re making decisions on incomplete or contradictory information. It’s what you learn that matters. Along the way, it’s also important to practice self-forgiveness, gratitude, and other somatic practices.
Lead from Different Directions. If you think a leader can only be the person out in front, like a controlling CEO or president, then it’s time to rethink your definition of leadership.
Thoughtful leaders don’t need to control everything. They recognize the talent of the team, and they encourage the most qualified person to run with a project or initiative. They step out of the way and guide from the background, when needed.
I love how the National Outdoor Leadership School describes the four approaches to leadership. As a designated leader, you take responsibility for the group and keep it on track. But you often ask your active followers to participate in group decisions, as their input gives you a clearer picture. Everyone on the team helps each other as peer leaders. And everyone carries their own weight because they exercise self-leadership and remain organized and motivated.
Be a Team Player. It’s more important to build solid relationships within your organization than “getting the job done,” if that means trampling on your team cohesion. It’s not always easy to effectively resolve conflict among a diverse group of people, but if you show you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside them, or you’re willing to fill in for them when necessary, that goes a long way to building a “collaborative, family feeling.” This approach fosters a spirit of understanding, communication, motivation, and even a sense of humor.
Stay Calm. Maintaining flexibility under adversity is another vital leadership skill. Embodied leaders don’t become leaders despite those adversities. They’ve become leaders because they used those adversities to their advantage.
There may be times you may want to throw in the towel, but a wiser course is to weigh your options. Ask yourself, “if I do that, what good will it do? …what harm will it do?”
Trying to control everything leads to burnout faster than anything. Learn to let go of things you can’t control, and become comfortable with changes. Maintain your composure and calm, as you switch on your problem-solving skills.
Develop the presence of mind to look past the immediate disaster/challenge/distraction and focus on the most important task at hand. You can’t afford to panic or become paralyzed with fear. It’s only by embracing discomfort that you can purposefully expand your comfort zone.
Disconnect to Reconnect. Technology is sapping our ability to analyze, strategize and dream big. We must remain connected to nature. You’ll find that regularly immersing yourself in nature removes distractions so you can make decisions for the right reasons.
Are you ready to claim the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) It’s going to be a wonderful, life-changing experience.
“The world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.” ~ Margaret Wheatley
It’s exciting to see millions of women embrace their place in the business world today. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, as of 2017, “11.6 million firms are owned by women.” Yet, it is disappointing to see that many leadership positions are still closed to them.
Why do women find leadership positions so elusive? Because leadership has long been “a man’s world,” women feel like they have to act like men to succeed. They think they have to be just as tough and competitive as a man. But when they’re confronted with office politics, they falter, because men and women fundamentally differ in their views on power and influence. And that’s not a bad thing.
It’s important to recognize the strengths that you, as a woman, bring to the table. You don’t have to act like a man. You have a powerful asset that they don’t – the power of collaboration. We, as women, use our influence as collaborators all the time in our families and communities. Now it’s time to learn to authentically use your influence as a collaborator in business, as well.
The book, “The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders,” by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, Mary Davis Holt, Diana Faison shares some wonderful suggestions…
Think bigger. I love the visualization exercise they recommend: image yourself achieving everything you want professionally under these two conditions – you can’t remain in your current position, and you can’t fail. Try it and see how it expands your thinking.
Be prepared for self-limiting beliefs to creep in. They’ll try to keep you small, but you can mindfully shift them to positive ones. If they’re really stubborn, find a friend, colleague, or mentor who can be your “truth teller.”
Manage relationships and collaborate. Even when you “don’t feel like it,” work to build genuine relationships and strategic connections. Take advantage of casual office settings and social networking events. Greet people warmly every morning. Be well prepared for your meetings and actively participate with a view to performing well. Even organize group events that your business associates will enjoy.
It’s important to pay attention to the following people within your business sphere:
- colleagues who will support you,
- key decision makers or influencers who can sponsor and promote you, and
- opponents who can make political maneuvering less complex.
Anticipate the long-term impact and cumulative results. Engage your curiosity as you visualize the outcome you desire. Consider all the options and think two or three moves ahead. This will help you identify what you need to do next to obtain your ideal results.
Acquire an executive presence. Take ownership of your career. You determine your vision, goals and path. No one can do it for you. Don’t let people underestimate you, because of the way you present yourself. NLP techniques will help you earn respect and inspire trust, so people want to work with you, recommend you and promote you.
Turn challenges into advantages. For example, women aren’t getting important feedback from male executives. That’s a challenge! You don’t know how to improve, because no one is talking. Take the initiative and ask for specific feedback. Now you have the advantage of knowing exactly what’s expected of you.
Companies that encourage and develop women in leadership positions benefit in a number of ways. Women tend to bring fresh perspectives because of their life experience and talents. Their collaborative influence increases employee engagement and higher productivity, which translates into more revenue. These advantages alone give companies a global competitive edge.
Are you ready to uncover the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (Also note the dates have changed slightly, since our first announcement. We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) I sincerely hope you take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.
Do you think that striving for excellence takes a lot of work, effort and struggle? Would you be shocked if I told you excellence should be easy? Yes, it takes a lot of work, but not in the way you’re probably thinking. The work comes, not from checking off major hurdles on your to-do list, but rather from finding your zone of genius, which, in turn, makes it easy and fun.
I know this goes against the current trend. Many life coaches advise their clients: “If you want to make it big, you’ve got to hustle!” Or, “Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.” Or, “Fight for every advantage you can get.”
When people buy into this philosophy, they push, fight and claw their way to some measure of success. In the process, they almost kill themselves. They don’t make time for exercise. They eat on the run, if at all. They survive on caffeine and adrenaline. And then they’re too keyed up to sleep at night. Day after day, they follow this same routine. Soon exhaustion, overwhelm, burnout and illness catch up with them.
If hustling and pushing yourself relentlessly were the best way to achieve excellence, these damaging results wouldn’t happen.
In reality, excellence results from giving yourself permission to be yourself and finding your zone of genius. Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level,” brought the phrase “zone of genius” to our attention. It describes the one thing you do better than almost anyone; the thing you do joyfully and effortlessly, which creates value for yourself and others.
Before you can find your zone of genius, however, it’s necessary to identify the fear that keeps it hidden from your own sight.
For example, do you find yourself saying, “I could do great things and be someone special if it wasn’t for…my job, my marriage, my race, my education, my social status, my looks…” and the list goes on and on. Beware, that way of thinking blinds you to your own genius.
In order to find your zone of genius, here are some other self-defeating thoughts to identify and explore. Keep in mind your goal is greater self-awareness, so it behooves you to mindfully adopt a more self-compassionate way of living.
- Your desire for security makes you afraid to change the status quo.
- Your attachment to money and prestige keeps you in a job you hate.
- Your fear of vulnerability makes your relationships shallow and unfulfilling.
- Your belief that success only comes from hard work relentlessly drives you to dismiss self-care.
- Your feelings of unworthiness prevent you from claiming your uniqueness.
- Your addiction to drama sidetracks and distracts you.
- Your misplaced loyalty makes you choose smallness rather than disappoint a colleague, boss or loved one.
It’s all too easy to be comfortable with living a miserable life. Most people rather live with what they know, rather than risk the unknown.
This is where the “hard work” begins because it calls for radically changing your approach. Instead of always pushing, pushing, pushing, it’s okay to pursue what comes easily. You don’t have to suffer to be great. It’s okay to enjoy life.
Rather than beating your head against closed doors by setting lofty goals and doing it by yourself, look for open doors of opportunity. Ask yourself what you really want in this moment of time. Give yourself permission to try things and do them imperfectly. It is hard to let go of ingrained habits and self-defeating thoughts, but this kind of “hard work” brings you health, vitality, a sense of fulfillment and balance.
One way to know you’re working in your genius is when you’re so absorbed in your project that time flies. You feel a deep sense of satisfaction and can’t wait to start again tomorrow. If you’re not quite in that zone yet, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you identify your zone of genius.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~ John F. Kennedy
You’ve seen them…the ones who seem to be natural born leaders. They instinctively know how to keep their heads when things go wrong, and they can draw exceptional performance out of everyone on the team. If that’s not you, don’t despair. Leadership can be learned, because leadership is a process of applying specific skills and qualities and any process can be learned.
How can leadership be learned? Let’s examine 10 leadership qualities and skills and find ways you can enhance these in your life.
- Leaders are decisive. Constantly ask, “Do I know what I need to know about this topic/situation?” If so, weigh your options and make your call. Don’t agonize, overanalyze or second-guess yourself. You can always make adjustments as needed.
- Leaders are innovative and creative. Increase your self-awareness so you recognize limiting thoughts when they arise and then consciously change them. Fine-tune your flexibility, curiosity and adaptability, and then you’ll be in a position to act when you see opportunities.
- Leaders inspire confidence. When things start to unravel and fall apart, people need to know everything will be all right. Learn to model a can-do attitude so you stop negativity, procrastination and hopelessness before they get a foothold. Act like you know what you’re doing, because deep down you do know what needs to be done. It’s a matter of identifying and owning the scary parts. Be courageous and bold and people will follow you.
- Leaders are empathetic. Leaders are in the people business. You have to understand how they are feeling, not how you would feel in that circumstance. This takes communication, deep listening and vulnerability. When you are able to see things as they do, you’re much likelier to come up with a solution that they can get behind.
- Leaders have emotional control. Yes, leaders get frustrated and angry, but they buy time to cool down and respond rationally. So, write that scathing letter or email, but don’t send it. Blow off steam and then look for your emotional triggers and how you can suspend judgment as you mindfully manage those emotions.
- Leaders are persuasive. When you can express the reasons why something is important, you’ll have a persuasive argument that convinces others. Yes, there may be many ways to accomplish something, but trust that your way is worthy and valid. Being a people pleaser can really get in the way of aggressively selling your vision. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
- Leaders seek advice. No one has all the answers, so it’s essential to seek counsel. Yet many people have their own agenda. That’s why it’s wise to collect a group of people who have earned your trust to advise you. Then they can point out any blind spot in your thinking.
- Leaders invest in continuous learning. Read a wide range of books that stimulate your curiosity and creativity. Warren Buffett credits much of his success to reading – spending 80% of each day doing it.
- Leaders embrace authenticity. You’ll wear yourself out if you pretend to be something you’re not. You win respect when you showcase your unique gifts and talents, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, methodical or spontaneous. People can spot a phony from a mile away, so be true to yourself.
- Leaders remain humble. When you’re in an executive position, it’s easy to get puffed up and forget about your humble beginnings. This is inflamed by flattery from others. Keep your eyes on the good of each individual in your organization and bring out their best, promoting their growth and achievements.
Can leadership be learned? Definitely YES! That you ask this question shows you have curiosity, which is one essential leadership quality. Are you ready to unlock the leader within you? I’d love to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event. Nando and I will help you hone YOUR gifts, talents and skills so you can make a real difference in the lives of others.