How quickly 2018 passed, Time now to pause, look back, reflect and ask what your priorities will be in the brand New Year!
Personally I‘ve looked at the gains and achievements of the past year. From that I’ve also tried to find, and focus on a theme for the year ahead. There’s already an element here which needs more priority – and it lies in the simple but neglected word, gratitude.
Albert Schweitzer once put it this way: “…at times our own light goes out and is re-kindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Gratitude is a pillar of positive psychology and has a direct correlation on our own feelings of positivity and well-being. It helps maximize the potential benefits of positive experiences and emotions on our lives.
Researchon the concept shows that people, who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being are less stressed, less depressed and more satisfied with their lives and relationships.
We feel more optimistic, have lower blood pressure, have more positive thoughts and a robust immune system and are more compassionate and forgiving.
Our resourcefulness and capacity is also believed to expands when we are in a more positive frame of mind and we are better able to deal with life’s challenges.
Gratitude is also about what we give – not just receive – and this could not be better highlighted than during this festive season when giving and gratitude go hand in hand.
Wishing you and your family a safe, enjoyable and fulfilling Christmas and New Year!
Introverted feeling types have a wealth of warmth and enthusiasm, but they may not show it until they know someone well. They wear their warm side inside, like a fur-lined coat.” – Isabel Briggs Myers
In our world, the externals including charisma and outgoing personalities get noted and praised starting right from our early school days.
For example, one teacher’s feedback, “Johnny is a confident, active and outgoing child.” On the other hand “Sarah is quiet and withdrawn and doesn’t easily mix with others.”
I wonder if we have an unconscious bias towards ‘quiet’ being seen as “less than” when compared to the more gregarious energetic personalities!
Okay – so we are who we are and here’s what we need to remember:
Both personality preferences – introversion and extraversion – have their strengths and challenges .
As bosses, parents, teachers and community leaders, we need to be mindful that both the extroverted and introverted personality preferences have their own strengths as much as their challenges.
If we are aware of this, we can optimise performance and communication with our colleagues, direct reports, students and even the rebellious teenager, on some occasions!
“Well-developed introverts can deal ably with the world around them when necessary, but they do their best work inside their heads, in reflection. Similarly well-developed extraverts can deal effectively with ideas, but they do their best work externally, in action.” ― Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
Let us look at team meetings where we spend a large chunk of our working time.
Introverted personalities tend to be quieter and not readily discuss their gems in meetings. While for the more extroverted types, speaking their minds or – their thoughts – as they get formulated – is not an issue.
The extroverted personality can come across as confident because they are never short on opinions or a willingness to say whatever is present for them in the moment. This is how they think….in talking it out.
On the other hand, those who are more introverted tend to be more quieter unless they feel really strongly about something and only then they might speak up.
However, when they do speak, they get peoples attention because more often than not, it has real substance and is well thought through.
‘Depth’ is a word that often gets used to describe a team member with introverted preferences.
To get the best from the more introverted team member show that you value their input by inviting them in and asking for their insights and perspective…and give them some time for reflection before reporting back!
Getting the best as their manager
You need to be conscious that they will not be easy initiators so you will need to draw them out by asking for their views.
If you have more introverted preferences yourself then you will naturally have more resonance and empathy here.
As a manager or leader you need to be aware that to get the best out of your more introverted team members (or family members for that matter), you also need to give them time to consider and process things on important agenda items so your asking does not put them on the spot.
While the typical extrovert’s claim of their more introverted team members is, “They do not say much in meetings” the introverts view when probed is, “It is hard to get a word in edge-wise!”
Doing round-robins in a team meeting which is basically doing a round in a circle where everyone gets to contribute their thought, feelings and ideas on the question/topic under discussion ensures that both personality types get to speak and therefore have equal air-time.
The introverted leader
We sometimes overlook the fact that we have just as many introverted as extroverted managers and leaders.
If you are a more introverted leader then know that you may have to make more of an effort to share information, be visible, initiate and express and give praise in ways that inspire and engage and builds a high performing team.
Doing team personality profiling is a great way of understanding your individual and team profile. It provides a common language and can take away a lot of unspoken tension and judgment amongst team members.
Learning about personality and team type is not only fun and helpful for improved work relationships but with family too.
Introversion and Influence
Regardless of our personality types, we all need to get our ideas communicated to those who matter.
If you have read this far, a question I am exploring currently and I would love to hear from you is:
If you identify yourself as more of an introvert, what helps you get your ideas heard and acknowledged with your key stakeholders?
Source: For further reading, you may wish to look into books on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The work and tool was developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers based on the work of Carl Jung.
The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in the office. -Dwight D Eisenhower
As part of our leadership development course we focused on our ethical compass and how it guides our behaviour and decisions as leaders.
From time to time, in our personal and professional lives, we come across people and opportunities that seem engaging, exciting and worth further exploration.
Sometimes the best things in life are those we stumble upon or that seem to come quite serendipitously out of nowhere! And indeed, explore we must. NEW horizons and development only arise through venturing into the unknown, pushing the envelope and taking an “experimental” stance towards such invitations.
As the old saying goes, “if we do what we have always done, then we will get what we have always gotten!”
Some Probing Questions
At the same time, though, it is worth being mindful of the following questions to guide your explorations when confronted with a mixed/tempting situation:
1) Is this opportunity congruent with your values, beliefs and guiding principles?
2) If not, which of your values and beliefs are non-negotiable?
3) How can you continue to be mindful of this so you don’t find yourself going down a slippery slope of compromises later?
4) Do you know when it is time to walk away?
5) What are the benefits of engaging in this particular project or partnership? What about the costs?
6) What is your intuition, inner voice or other ‘body signals’ conveying to you about the venture or people involved? Do you feel reasonably at ease or is there some internal angst and agitation? (You may not have words for what this is yet. Being uncomfortable is part of the process.)
7) What are some questions that remain unanswered? Making a note of these and finding answers for these will certainly help.
Asking questions which don’t have an immediate answer is still more advancing than not identifying and raising these questions.
The impact of choices you make
We get confronted with situations and challenges – big and small – all the time. As my executive client said the other day, “Given my particular challenge, I could get away with a very expedient solution but the cost of not doing the right thing is too high. My reputation and integrity will be tarnished forever.”
As we navigate ourselves through our lives, we soon realize that choosing between right and wrong can be fairly straight forward but it’s the choosing between what could be “right and right” or choosing between two different values both of which you hold dear. In these instances, we need to consider the whole package and make choices based on what is right for you and or your business right now including the risk you are willing to tolerate.
Doing the right thing and peace of mind
If doing the right things and peace of mind are high order values then playing the high stakes game will not work for you. The old Indian sages have espoused the virtues of faith, peace, a calm state of mind and patience with beautiful words like ‘Shraddha’ (Faith), ‘Shanti’ (Peace) and ‘Saburi”(Patience).
In our lives, with a multitude of demands coming our way, it is worth being mindful of not just what we are ticking off but the state of mind and presence with which we do things. This may mean, at times, not rushing into things headlong and backing ourselves even if it means standing alone for a while. With time, the true nature of things including people gets revealed. Truth always has a way of coming out.
· What is a decision you have to make which might benefit from some further gestation, reflection and or investigation?
· How do you walk the fine line so no matter what your integrity and values stay intact and support you?
· What personality trait or competing value might block you from seeing things more objectively?
Keep in mind that no matter how tempting things maybe one thing money can’t buy is integrity.
Do you feel like you are ignored and overlooked at work considering all the effort you put in?
In a team meeting, even after you have said what you needed to get across, you feel you may as well have not been there?
You can’t help but notice that your suggestions get disregarded and yet when another team member offers the same input – good heavens! Not only do they get acknowledged greatly but their idea also gets accepted.
Not surprisingly, you find yourself perplexed – scratching your head, wondering what happened and what it is that you are missing?
This has certainly been the experience of a few of my clients who have wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.
If wanting ‘greater presence’ is something you would like, then read on!
What is Presence?
The Oxford Dictionary defines Presence as “the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present.” In the business arena, we also hear the word linked with leadership, influence and executive or personal presence.
We know what presence is when we walk into a room and immediately notice someone who has this in bucket loads and this even before they open their mouths.
And how much more powerful their presence gets felt when their message and its delivery, their non-verbals like how they hold themselves and the way they communicate all coalesce into a bulls eye potency.
So what can you do to have greater presence?
How can you get your full dues for the vital contribution you make?
There are some key things you could focus on to grow your presence including having a better grip on how you communicate including the tone of your voice, the non-verbal messages you give out, the clarity of your message, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your value add and understanding other contextual factors like who your stakeholders are and how best to influence them.
In this article, I would like to suggest that to have greater presence begin with yourself.
Do a self-assessment first
To increase your awareness, notice what you are:
Saying (how and what you say and where)
Doing (how you behave – including your non- verbal behaviour)
Being (what you believe deep down)
Check that you are not being your own silent saboteur!
Notice that you are not signaling a message – perhaps unconsciously – that is inviting people to respond in a way that is discounting of you.
Our conditioned past is our handbrake
Whatever it is that you are doing – be it speaking softly or tentatively, saying everything in the form of a question and giving the impression that you are not sure of what you are saying, there is a reason you would be doing this.
A good place to start is to tune in to you story. In other words, what is the story you are telling yourself as you show up in places where you want to have greater presence?
For example, are you afraid that your ideas and suggestions may not be good enough and therefore you cover yourself by asking everything as a question?
Or in a team meeting is your story something along the lines of, “I don’t have all the data just yet so I will sit back, observe and hear everyone else’s input before I say anything.”
Our stories drive us including what we allow ourselves to receive or not and the outcomes we get. Perhaps you got conditioned into “not speaking” as when you did speak you were shot down and told, “you know nothing” as happened to one client.
So examine your underlying thoughts and beliefs. Are these supporting or undermining your effectiveness and impact?
Growing your presence exercise:
Context: Identify the context you would like to have greater presence e.g. small team meetings, larger groups, when presenting or elsewhereCurrent story: What is your dominant story about yourself regarding your leadership and presence. For example, “Because of ‘X’ people don’t notice me.” Or “I don’t want to be criticised so I will be tentative in how I say things.” Idealized vision: Ask yourself. “What does your vision or idealized self with greater presence look, sound and feel like?” Describe your behavior including your communication and verbal and non-verbal demeanour New story: What could be a new, more empowering story?
Developing your new story
Brainstorm solutions for your new story.
The question you could answer is, “What and how do I need to show up differently on these three facets?”
Saying – expression
Doing – behaving (Non-verbals too)
Being – beliefs
This is where feedback (or Feedforward) comes in super handy.
You could identify 3 -5 trusted others in your team and get some feed forward with the inquiring question, “ I am working on having greater presence in team meetings. Knowing me as well as you do, what is one thing I could do (or not do!) that could help me?”
Remember to thank them for their contribution. Then pick one feedback that you can implement (the easier one first) and do this consistently for at least a month.
A recent discussion on the importance of trust in our teams has prompted me to re-post this article:
Trust is the lifeblood of all relationship – business or personal. It is the foundation of all mutually satisfying and sustainable long-term relationships. More than just a concept, it is also a feeling state – based on our experience of other’s behavior over time which is taken as evidence of their trustworthiness or not.
“If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a meaningful relationship.” So how do we build and grow trust? The following eight behaviours are vital in building trust:
1) Be your word. As Stephen Covey puts says, “speed happens where there is trust.” As a leader, work on building a high trust culture, brand and or organization. The quickest way to erode trust is to say things and then not follow through with your actions. It is better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around. As leaders, you are already in a fish bowl and are constantly being judged as to how authentic, credible and worthy of “followship” you are. If you are unable to keep up your promise – for whatever reason – than being upfront and transparent about this can still be a trustworthy act.
2) Take responsibility. Jennifer Elliot, the founder of Integrity and values powerfully coached us that we take on the mindset that everything we do has impact and therefore are responsible for the smallest of actions that we engage in on a daily basis and the outcomes generated by this. Taking responsibility means identifying and acknowledging when things go wrong and taking ownership. As a leader the worst thing one can do is to not take responsibility. Blaming, shifting responsibility, becoming defensive and or argumentative behaviours will not build trust. In the words of another successful CEO “share the successes around but ultimately as a leader, shoulder the blame.”
“Responsibility and Trust — these two are like Yin and Yang, together perfectly complete, and each one requiring the presence of the other.― Vera Nazarian
3) Hold others to account. As a manager and leader, be clear about the results you expect from others and deal with issues as they arise. Be willing to have those courageous conversations. Leaders lose face when team members are allowed to get away with bad behavior. An example is where a direct report, who is very bright, keeps bringing in business and or producing the results, manages upwards really well but exhibits questionable behavior such as bullying, deception or total lack of collaboration with other teams or colleagues. As their manager, if you are not tackling this, you can be sure that those in the rest of the organization will be looking up to you to take action and losing faith in you if it is not forthcoming. You may get their time and some of their mind but you will not be getting the hearts and spirit for total engagement.
4) Be values led. Live, breathe and model the values that you and your organization hold dear such as respect, transparency, integrity. “Walk the talk and talk the walk!” You are creating the culture of your organization every step of the way. Celebrate examples of where the team has gone over and above living these values say with customers but also deal with issues and people who are not honouring the agreed upon values. Professor Mitch Kusy says that one of the best ways of dealing with people who are constantly displaying bad behavior and need managing out is through using values-based behavior as the expected standard.
5) Collaborate and value diversity. Trust builds when people feel affirmed, validated and respected. One way to do this is to be a good listener and be empathic. It is easy to fall into the quick trap of “this is the best idea” and anything else is discarded. Team members pick up very quickly as to whether you have a listening for their contribution. Be mindful of your own listening so your people feel heard and listened to, even if ultimately their ideas are not adopted. Ideas can come from anywhere especially those right at the coalface be it production line, dealing with customers and or other stakeholders. Where there is good teamwork; a zany idea can be picked up and developed upon by others in the team. “No idea is a bad idea” can be one to play with. Trust also grows when team members are able to express doubt without feeling penalized.
“Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about the team.” ― Patrick Lencioni
6) Dealing with broken trust. Being human, we are almost guaranteed to stuff up from time to time. Trust takes years to build and moments to destroy. However, what is more important is how quickly we can own up to this and do whatever it takes to put things right. Most people tend to be forgiving especially where there has been no malice or a deliberate attempt to sabotage or deceive.
7) Be open to feedback. Trust is also demonstrated when you are able to show, ask and receive feedback. Challenging as it can be to the ego, to be told things about ourselves that are not our strengths, being able to accept this feedback and then do something about it is a mark of a true leader. Being open to feedback requires a degree of humility. And humility keeps us in check and fosters compassion towards ourselves and others. When team members are able to give each other open, honest and constructive feedback, it’s a very positive signal about the organizations culture.
If you don’t have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers. – Roger Staubach
8) Trust yourself. It is very hard to trust others and cultivate trusting relationships when we don’t trust ourselves. Unearthing our own relationship with trust can be quite a journey of revelation as we get challenged and come across scenarios where our own level of self trust comes into question. However, it is at the edges that new learning and growth are waiting to be touched and embraced. By trusting that there is some learning here and by staying with the self-inquiry – difficult as it may feel – you can come out with greater knowledge about yourself including trusting yourself more.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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.
The second day was deeply reflective. Oh – to have the time and space to make sense of the feedback and to cull the potentially life and leadership changing nuggets from these.
My co-facilitator and I had posed a pretty simple and upfront question, “Why am I here?”
At times there was a palpable depth and silence as these courageous team members walked the longest mile – from their heads to their hearts.
Something was shifting for them.
But it did not just stop there.
They then shared their reflective nuggets with their fellow team members. As facilitators, we could have let them carry on for hours as they gave each other the gift of listening and contributing.
The level of openness and sharing got even deeper as they shared their authentic stories.
All this in a mere two days which really goes to show how much is possible where there is good intent, openness and receptivity and an emerging sense of trust through vulnerability.
And this is just the beginning…….of many beginnings……everyday.
As facilitators – we also get touched. As quantum physics reinforces – we are also an active part of the system and we too grow and transform as we hold the space for others.
It is true – what you give out comes back to you a thousand fold.
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.
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!
This popular model which we use in the business setting reminds us of the different stages of the change response:
· Acceptance, and
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.