Self Awareness Leadership

Truly Effective Leadership Comes With Self-Awareness

Would you want to work for you? Self Awareness Leadership

Asking yourself this question can greatly improve your leadership skills. Why? Because it’s a first step toward greater self-awareness, which has been proven to be an essential trait of effective leaders.

Self awareness helps leaders to know their natural dispositions and preferences so they can improve upon or compensate for them as needed. It also improves the bottom line. A 2013 study by Korn/Ferry International discovered that “public companies with a higher rate of return (ROR) also employ professionals who exhibit higher levels of self-awareness.”

Wherever you are on the spectrum of self-awareness, consider taking a fresh look at how it can transport your leadership skills to new heights.

Self Awareness Leads To More Emotional IntelligenceEffective leadership

Being self-aware, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, is “one of the core components of emotional intelligence.”

And strong emotional intelligence can give you the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others. You can then use that awareness to better guide your own behavior and your relationships with self and others — which makes you a leader that people want to follow.

World renowned researcher who coined the term “emotional intelligence,” Daniel Goleman, elaborates on this concept in a recent business article from The Telegraph. He explains, “If you think of the worst and best bosses you’ve ever had, it had nothing to do with their title or degree, but everything to do with the kind of person they were – for example, whether they were emotionally intelligent or not. People want to work for a person who is.”

If this all makes sense to you, then you’re ready to commit to gaining greater self awareness.

Try These Strategies to Improve Self-Awareness

Here are some easy ways to start down the path to heightened self awareness.

  1. Use one of the many tests available to better understand your behavior and mSelf Awareness Leadershipotives. Some good ones include:
  • Leadership Circle ProfileNot only tells you what is or is not contributing to a leader’s effectiveness, but also tells you “ why” this is so. It gives the leader causational insight into what is happening beneath the surface.
  • Myers Briggs – Reveals your “sweet spot” personality for working and communicating with others, which may or may not be the optimal approach in your work with others.
  • CliftonStrengths (formerly Strengthsfinder) – Shows you your “natural strengths,” which the test defines as your thinking style or the type of work you thrive on.
  1. Learn what triggers your behaviors. What particular drivers make you react a certain way—and why? What are your personal or professional blind spots? Identifying and understanding your triggers can help you achieve more productive interactions with others.
  2. Practice mindfulness. One of the key benefits of practicing mindfulness is a direct increase in self-awareness. The Harvard Business Review recently cited their work with a global IT company from Silicon Valley which showed that “even just five weeks of 10 minutes of daily mindfulness training enhanced the participating leaders’ self-awareness up to 35%.”
  3. Ask for feedback. This can sometimes be tough to hear, so choose someone you trust to share their view of your typical interactions. Be open to what they have to say – and be willing to implement changes if they are in alignment with your priorities and values.
  4. Be easy on yourself. Remember, you’re a work in progress! Look at your successes and what you’ve learned objectively, acknowledging what you did well – and what you might do differently next time. Learning from our mistakes is a key component of gaining self awareness.

Along with the tips above, there’s one more thing for self-aware leaders to practice…

Strong Leaders Combine Self-awareness leadershipSelf-Awareness With Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is simply being aware of how your behavior impacts those you lead and then making adjustments as needed. This proves to your team that you want to bring out their best, without being intimidating or negative.

Leaders with both self-awareness and self-regulation skills set a positive example for their team members to follow, building teams that are more motivated, productive, and willing to courageously grow in their own right.

As a leader, could you ask for anything more?

Looking for more strategies on how to be a leader who is courageously self-aware? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Practice compassionate leadership

Listen Loudly, Speak Softly: How Being Compassionate Can Make You a More Effective Leader

“Strength and compassion are not mutually exclusive.”

Robert Kiyosaki

In many parts of the world, we’re all too familiar with phrases like “The nice guy always finishes last” or “Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Many in the business world continue to associate compassionate leadership behavior with being too “touchy feely” or even unprofessional.

How true is that for you?

Whatever your answer, I invite you to take a closer look at the value of compassionate leadership.

Being Compassionate Leads to Success in Business and Leadership

Leadership compassionStudies have demonstrated that compassionate leadership strategies have positive results. My own experience has shown me the vital role compassion can play in enhancing one’s abilities as an effective leader.

The way to achieve measurable results is to take care of people: the relationships you cultivate always precede meaningful results.

Professor and author Adam Grant, who penned the best-selling Give and Take, discovered that in business, “givers,” a term he coined to represent those who care about others, are both overrepresented at the very bottom and at the very top of the success ladder.

You’re probably wondering “How can that be?!” – right? It all comes down to strategy.

While it is true that “givers” can be taken advantage of, those who learn strategies to prevent that from happening often experience very positive results – more so than those who implement no compassion at all. They rise to the top of the success ladder because people love working with and naturally gravitate to them. It’s a little like fire – a flame can burn you or keep you warm – it’s all in how you use it.

Compassion is a Leadership Strategy That Builds Trust

As you probably are well aware, establishing trust as a leader can achieve very effective results.Practice compassionate leadership

Think about it this way: which of the following scenarios do you think would build more trust?

Suppose that one of the newest members on your team who has shown promising ability doesn’t meet an important project deadline.

A – You express to her in no uncertain terms your dissatisfaction, without taking the time to more deeply understand what happened. You make it known that this isn’t something that can be tolerated and threaten to replace her if it happens again. It’s all about results, and it doesn’t matter how you achieve them.

B – You sit down and start a conversation with her to approach the situation in a way that seeks deeper understanding of what is going on. In doing so, you learn that she has recently experienced some significant personal issues in her life that you may even be able to relate to. Perhaps you share something about yourself to put her at ease and let her know you care. With this new understanding, you both come to a workable solution.

Displaying Compassion Can Help Make You a More Influential Leader

Scenario A simply perpetuates an attitude of harsh indifference; Scenario B opens up the opportunity to cultivate a trusting relationship where the person is not seen simply as a disposable “resource” – but as a valued and respected member of the team. And, more importantly, as a human being.

As I am sure you realize by now, displaying compassion helps others – even when the stakes are high and the situation is very stressful – to feel safe. That cultivates a sense of trust.

It’s that trust you build in your relationships that can help make you an influential leader, and this is just one of the many positive takeaways from practicing compassion in leadership.

Strategies to Enhance Your Abilities as a Compassionate Leader

Use these simple strategies to inject more compassion into your everyday leadership activities:

1- Practice the power of the present moment. Especially in the high-stress, fast-paced business world, it’s easy to let your mind run off in a million different directions. Staying present allows you to be a more effective listener and to focus on what matters in the moment.

2- Listen loudly, speak softly. For many of us, being brief can present a challenge. But compassionate leadership asks us to listen more than we speak, to come from a place of understanding, and to use our words as effectively as possible – especially because humans cannot retain more than a tidbit of information at one time.Effective leadership strategies

3- Be gentle with yourself. Without a deeper understanding of and a willingness to be kind to yourself, you will find it very difficult to show self-compassion to others. Self-compassion can also help boost your self-esteem as you come to see “mistakes” (by you and others) as opportunities for learning and new growth.

May this information inspire you to begin incorporating more compassion into your personal leadership style!

Looking for more strategies on how to effectively practice compassionate leadership? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Leadership language

Commit to Using Effective Leadership Language to Inspire Your Team

Communication is the real work of leadership.

-Nitin Nohria, Dean of the Harvard Business School

As a leader, you likely already know that leadership is comprised of three basic—but very crucial—elements:

  • What you feel (moods and emotions)
  • How you act (body language)
  • What you say (specific words and tones that you speak out loud and/or in your head)

Finding Middle GroundAll of these have many facets to explore, but language is a great starting point since it’s literally how we get our ideas across to others. And, while our spoken language is “only” responsible for 7% of our communication with others, it is still a very powerful vehicle. Spoken language is the very foundation of how we produce outcomes and generate realities in our professional and personal lives.

Join me as together we examine the power of words, as well as six simple strategies to implement today, so you can use the language of leadership to inspire and empower those you lead.

Words: The Building Blocks of Language

We humans are the only beings on this earth that communicate through spoken words. And while tone, volume, and context can affect how we’re perceived, it is words that often matter most.

For instance, think of a time when you felt put down by someone with a soft voice and a smiling face. Or maybe you were told that you did a “great job” in a grudging tone by a boss or co-worker. How did you feel, in either case? Perhaps you can think of a time when your own choice of words impacted someone else significantly, too.

In most cases, it’s the words that hit home to build us up or put us down. A big part of leadership is about choosing the right words to convey our meaning, connect with others, and channel our vision into the hearts and minds of those we lead.

6 Easy Strategies to Speak the Language of Leadership

Effective leaders know the power of a meaningful conversation – it’s often one of the most helpful ways to generate trust, foster cooperation, and craft a shared vision.

Gender Equality | Workplace Equality | Difficult Conversations

Here are some conversation strategies that you can use to stimulate productive dialogue:

1) Change “Yes, but…” to “Yes, and…” – People often associate the phrase “Yes, but…” with the word “no.” Generally, once we hear the word “but,” it cancels out any positive statement made before it. Instead of “but,” use the word “and.” In our minds, “and” allows two statements to be simultaneously true, thus preventing the often unhelpful knee-jerk reaction to the word “but.”

2) Replace “can” with “will.” – Someone telling us they can do something doesn’t necessarily mean they will. The language of commitment requires phrases such as “I will”, “I commit to” or “I choose to.” When it comes to inspiring your team, therefore, asking “Will you?” can be a far more effective approach than merely allowing your team to say what is in their ability to do.

3) Try the phrase: “I wonder if…” This is a great phrase to use when you’re proposing a course of      action that may generate resistance. It tells others that while you don’t have all the answers, you’re curious and willing to put yourself on the hot seat to explore options. It also generates curiosity in your team to get them working on viable alternatives.

4) Be “transparent” rather than “honest.” What happens for you when someone tells you they are going to be “completely honest” with you? How much do you believe them? If you’ve ever said this yourself, what kind of response did you get? People already expect honesty from their leaders. What they need is transparency. Transparency lets others know you are sharing something important, something that requires you to be vulnerable. It also lets listeners know they are valued and trusted with this sensitive information. How willing are you to be transparent?

5) Speak from the heart. Those you lead value authenticity. In an HBR article on the language of leadership, author Tony Golsby-Smith points out that compelling leaders make authentic statements that demonstrate their core values, beliefs…hopes and dreams, even. When you’re in a conversation, don’t see the person as a “resource” – but as someone to relate to on an authentic, human level. Those of you who are familiar with the Iceberg Model will know that sharing “below the waterline” allows for greater vulnerability and therefore connection with and among team members. So, share a personal story where it feels appropriate to do so.

6) A little empathy can go a long way. Building on #5 above, empathy is a highly effective tool to develop and deepen relationships with your team. If empathy still seems elusive to you, begin practicing it in small doses when the situation calls for it. As mentioned above, expressing your own vulnerabilities and sharing your weaknesses in telling a story can lead to a stronger, more unified team.

How well do you really know your team members? Ask those you lead questions that show you care about them more than as “mere” employees” – and share a little more below the waterline about yourself …and experience the results.

Practicing the Language of Leadership

A good leader remembers that every person responds differently to a variety of words and phrases. Learn what energizes your team to make them feel confident and empowered.

It’s also important to understand cultural differences around specific words and language in general. What works for a US-raised employee might not be as well-received by someone who has grown up in the UAE, Singapore or France.

And finally, try these tips one at a time versus all at once so you can keep track of the responses you receive. Consider keeping a journal so you can easily review what specific language generated any shifts in reaction from your team – helpful or unhelpful. You can then make adjustments based on this information.

Using language effectively is one key way for leaders to bring out the best in both themselves and others. Commit yourself daily to this challenge and watch the gifts that unfold.

Looking for more tips on how to learn and effectively practice the language of leadership? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Gender Equality | Workplace Equality | Difficult Conversations

How To Bravely Challenge Workplace Inequality

Recently, one of our Weekly Bold Moves on workplace inequality generated lots of comments and feedback, so much so that I’ve decided to explore in more detail how to handle those difficult discussions with co-workers on this topic.

The Insightful Question on Workplace Equality Was…

Here’s the Bold Move that’s been generating all the buzz:

Do you walk the walk – or just talk the talk? Virtually anyone can say “I’m committed to equality in the workplace” – but words are nothing without action. Are you willing to speak up, stand out, and go against the grain when the right situation presents itself?

This prompted one insightful reader to ask me for examples of how to “tactfully” address the issue of workplace gender equality in a more positive, productive way—with a focus on supporting working moms who are blamed for using non-traditional hours to balance work and family.

Walking The Talk When it Comes to Equality in the Workplace

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this issue, I do have some tips on what you can say and do when you encounter difficult situations to foster a more supportive environment for women and others in the workplace.

  • Be a role model of peace and acceptance. Work on centering yourself around who you are, what values are important to you – and why. As you become more willing to live in alignment with your authentic self, others may be more open and receptive to you. Likewise, a deeper understanding of yourself may help you to better understand others.
  • Use a low-key tone. How often has the wrong tone of voice shut down your listening to what someone says? Whenever possible, keep your tone soft and inviting – not sharp, aggressive, or loud. This is really important if you tend to get “overly enthusiastic” about a topic. And whether you’re listening or speaking, never underestimate the power of body language.
  • Gently challenge assumptions. This one can be a little scary. If you’re comfortable with it, try to help people see that they’re making assumptions that might not be true because they don’t know the whole situation. It’s a brave way to “walk the talk.” You might start the conversation with something like, “I can see how given your experience you might feel that way. I’m just wondering if you might be open to looking at this from a different perspective…”
  • Think dialogue, not debate. Create an open-ended conversation where you’re listening as well as talking. By understanding the other person’s viewpoint, you can help them to start considering yours. Doesn’t everyone appreciate being heard? If you often find yourself saying things like “I can’t believe I said that” or “I wish I would have approached her differently,” try gently practicing self-awareness in your interactions to respond more effectively.
  • Develop conversation starters. What you say will depend on your specific workplace relationship with the person you want to influence, but here are some examples to build on.

 

    • From a place of centeredness and peace, you could calmly say something like: If we truly are serious about diversity in the workplace/flexible hours, then we also need to honor X’s right to have flexible hours, which for her might mean taking time out to enjoy her daughter’s soccer game or being able to hold and bond with her baby. Or,

     

    • If other people taking time off is getting under your skin, maybe you need a little time for yourself, too? All of us benefit from that at least once in a while. [This one is to be used with caution – it’s mostly to help shed light on why people can sometimes be judgmental.]

     

    • Transparency can be key: Instead of jumping at the other person to prove your point or show them how “wrong” they are, consider sharing some of your own vulnerabilities. If it seems appropriate, you might start with something like, “I remember a time when I felt that way too…” then lead into how your own beliefs have since changed.

The Rewards of Courage

Ellyn Shook, the chief human resources officer of Accenture, is one female leader who is leading the charge for “courageous conversations” about gender inequality and sexism in the workplace.

As a recent Catalyst publication points out, having these courageous conversations will “keep the issue on the front burner and educate those around us.” Leaders in particular should continue to challenge the status-quo of workplace gender issues to move it forward, setting an example for others to follow.

Changes in this area won’t happen overnight, but by bravely speaking out we can begin with shifting perceptions—one person at a time. Today, I encourage you to look for opportunities right within your own workplace (and rest assured, they are there!) where you might transform an unproductive conversation into one that fosters deeper understanding and more positive growth for all.

Looking for ways to be a courageous leader who speaks up when necessary to foster workplace equality? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Workplace culture | Corporate culture in the workplace | Inclusion in the workplace

Leaders, Inclusiveness Improves Corporate Culture

“Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a great long-term brand, or empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on its own.”
– Tony Hsieh CEO, Zappos

Recent news headlines have given us much to think about when it comes to what’s accepted within an organization’s culture. It begs the question: What would it be like if all workplace cultures were built on mutual respect and openness? And how do we make that happen?

Let’s start by understanding the importance of culture in business and then consider how leaders can be the catalysts for positive change in their specific organizations.

Culture: The “Immune System” Of The Workplace

There are myriads of ways that workplace culture impacts an organization’s short- and long-term success. In a recent article on Time.com, Arianna Huffington referred to corporate culture as a company’s “immune system.”

When a workplace culture is healthy, it values and celebrates each person’s contributions, so current employees want to stay and potential employees are eager to come on board. Conversely, an unhealthy culture will damage a company’s reputation and make employees more prone to the “illnesses” of human nature.

The more fit and strong the culture at your organization, the more easily employees can recognize the onset of these issues and take steps to remedy them.

What Makes A Healthy Workplace Culture?

Rather than focus on negatives, here are a few of the positive aspects that define a fit and thriving corporate culture. If they don’t necessarily describe your company right now, consider how you might incorporate them going forward, starting with your teams.

  • Diversity – Do you find yourself (or those within your organization) saying, “That’s the way we’ve always done it”? No more! This is essential if you want to foster well-being and improve performance. Diversity enables new thoughts, ideas, and possibilities to emerge so that you’re continually thinking, looking, and moving forward.
  • Transparency – In a culture of openness, you can spot issues and correct them before they create a crisis. Transparency makes it safe for people to admit their mistakes, learn from them, and use those lessons to benefit the organization. Be honest – could your organization benefit from greater levels of transparency?
  • A Larger Purpose – Millennials, in particular, thrive in a culture where principles are as important as profits. But doesn’t everyone want to feel they’re part of something beneficial -not only for customers but for the world as a whole? Where does your organization stand on this?

Your Role As A Leader: Build Inclusiveness

If a healthy corporate culture could be summed up in one word, it’s “inclusiveness.” An Inc.com article states that inclusive workplace cultures are healthier, more productive, and make team members feel more valued.

However, leaders can’t always gauge their efforts at inclusiveness, according to a ten-year study by leadership consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. So here are some key benchmarks to help you be a more inclusive leader and create a healthier corporate culture:

  1. Try to ignore your ego. – It’s human nature to think of ourselves first, but our role as leaders is to keep the focus on success for our team and for our organization as a whole. When you make this shift toward intellectual humility, you almost automatically create inclusiveness.
  2. Remember the value of listening. – As a leader, there’s a time to talk. But often, the way to reach the best ideas and solutions is to listen, and you create inclusiveness when you do. This doesn’t mean you have to use every suggestion, but you should always be willing to at least hear them.
  3. Encourage collaboration on your teams. – When your team members contribute to a project or solve an issue, they gain a great sense of motivation and accomplishment. Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” And empowerment often starts with collaboration.

Every person deserves to work in a culture where they are valued, supported, empowered, and encouraged to be all they can be. As leaders, we play a major role in creating this safe and nurturing environment not only for the benefit of our employees but for the success of our companies in the long term. Are you ready for the challenge?

Looking for ways to be a bold leader who is a catalyst for creating a healthier, more inclusive culture within your organization? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.