Vicki Noel, MLHR, SHRM-SPC, SPHR
Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?
A leader’s typical day is ripe with distraction. There are budgets to meet, problems to solve, results to achieve. External focus can consume all a leader’s time, as these external factors are typically what a leader is evaluated against. So rather than spending time on managing self, a typical leader will prioritize time and attention on the external actions that he or she believes team members are expecting them to perform.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
Yes. A leader IS expected to meet budgets, solve problems and achieve results…but those actions can only be achieved through the collective performance of the teams of people the leader serves. Leadership effectiveness is in part related to how effectively the leader’s “use of self” is in expressing a vision, and inspiring others to be their “best self”. That is not possible if the leader isn’t working on being their own best, positive expression of self.
How can you do it?
- Focus on your self-talk. We have thousands of thoughts in a day and every time we have a thought, our brain triggers feelings that result in both physical and emotional reactions. While we certainly cannot control another person’s thoughts, we DO have a bit of control of our own. Why not, then, insert some positive thoughts throughout our day? When something does not go as planned, and we get the spider sense we are about to have a negative thought, try a re-framed positive thought instead. Rather than “here I go, messing up again” say to yourself “I get the opportunity to try this again to make it better.” A positive thought will produce a more positive reaction on our facial expression and body language…which is being watched regularly by those we serve.
- Focus your visualization. Our brains have a difficult time discerning between what we actually see and what we imagine we see. Think of the “memories” we have from childhood that are actually from stories others have repeatedly told us. When you are preparing for a difficult situation, visualize the way you want that conversation to happen. See yourself crossing the finish line and rising your hands in victory. This positive mental practice will help your mind to more easily take the steps necessary to reach this visualization.
- Focus on your synchrony. If someone says one thing but does another…which do you believe? We believe the actions before the words. For those we serve to believe in us, our words and our actions or body language must match. As you work to improve your management of self, spend time reflecting on what you say and then on what you do to check for a disconnect. Ask a trusted colleague to give you feedback on this when observed. The root, however, is to dive deep into the believe behind the emotion that triggered the reaction to get to the real story.
Which of the above strategies has worked best for you and why? Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog. We learn best from each other’s experiences.