“Remember, your perception of the world is a reflection of your state of consciousness,” said Ekhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher, and bestselling author.
There is immense truth in this simple statement. You become what you imagine yourself to be. But, if you don’t know who you are, you cannot control the direction your life takes.
The ability to monitor and manage yourself is one of the most important traits you can have as a leader. Understanding yourself – your drivers, triggers, likes and dislikes, and values – is critical for you to put your best foot forward and defines how you interact with the people you lead.
Without a degree of emotional self-awareness, you could react unknowingly and uncontrollably to situations – which can, of course, become detrimental for the organization and erode your authority in the long-run.
Simply defined, self-awareness refers to having a deep understanding of your inner norms, drivers, motivations, beliefs, and preferences, or intuitions. You understand what is happening in your mind in each situation. You can analyse, monitor, or control your reaction to situations and external stimuli.
Daniel Goleman, author, and psychologist, classified self-awareness as one of the four fundamental capabilities of emotional intelligence and advocated mindfulness to become more aware. Goleman stated, “Self-awareness means the ability to monitor our inner world – our thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness is one method for enhancing this essential capacity – it trains our attention to notice subtle, but important signals, and to see thoughts as they arise rather than just being swept away by them.”
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, co-authors of The Leadership Challenge, researched the impact of that self-awareness and self-management in leaders and found it to be essential for authentic leadership. In fact, they went so far as to caution organizations against hiring individuals based solely on professional excellence, without prioritising personal and social skills. According to them, one sure way to enhance EQ was to become self-aware.
Ultimately, being more self-aware will give you the ability to express yourself in the best possible manner during any situation. You will act consciously, instead of reacting uncontrollably.
Our self-image is a combination of how we see ourselves and how others perceive us and interact with us. Relying on only our own image of ourselves can lead to challenges in terms of blind spots and hidden aspects about ourselves.
For leaders, it is important to work on understanding both sides of their self-image. Understanding our inner self makes us happier, and less stressed at work while being aware of the external view of our personality allows us to have a closer and more responsive relationship with our team and other stakeholders. Knowing what our team members think of us can help us cultivate a more open relationship with them.
Knowing yourself allows you to bring a heightened sense of confidence to your leadership. It will enable you to make professional decisions with complete confidence. No more second-guessing your abilities or your reactions in a particular situation; being self-aware will help you analyse your professional options and make decisions based on knowledge rather than gut feel.
Self-awareness leads to enhancing your emotional intelligence. When you have the ability to be in touch with your emotions, it will automatically make you more aware of and empathetic towards the feelings of others. This amplified EQ will help you achieve success in your role as a leader.
Self-awareness is a continuous process.
When we engage in self-evaluation, we can give some thought to whether we are thinking and feeling and acting as we “should” or following our standards and values.
Introspecting constructively about your behaviour in different situations and with different people can provide you with useful inputs. Look for patterns, which could throw some light on why you react or behave in a certain way in certain situations and with certain kinds of people. The main objective is to identify drivers and triggers and then based on that, decide on what is it that you really want to be seen as or want to be like.
Self-evaluation will help you choose your reaction or response more deliberately in the future in a way that is aligned to who you are and how you want to be perceived. It will also give you areas that you might want to explore further and see how you could change for the better – for better outcomes for you and your organisation.
One way to know yourself better is to ask people you trust for their opinion. You can initiate a structured feedback system or ask trusted colleagues for an honest insight into your personality.
You could also use a tool like 360-degree feedback to find out what your peers, subordinates, and other stakeholders think of you and whether it aligns with what you think of yourself. Incongruence in this can help you identify that areas that you could work on to build greater self-awareness and also better relationships with your team and other stakeholders.
Low self-awareness tends to breed a certain degree of blindness towards your weaknesses, and feedback is a great way to uncover aspects that could be improved.
When you have so much on your plate, and experience gives you heightened clarity and overview of situations, it becomes hard to listen patiently and give others a chance. This impatience may keep you boxed inside your own ideas and processes.
If instead, you make an effort to be open, curious, and patient with other people and their different viewpoints, not only will you come up with better solutions, you will also find it easier to keep in touch with everyone around you, and that will allow you to learn more about yourself.
Finally, a sure shot way to dial up your self-awareness quotient is to put yourself in the hands of an executive coach. There are several well-known and researched-backed emotional intelligence assessment tools that can uncover your core traits and bottlenecks. EQ-I 2.0 is one such powerful and scientifically valid and reliable assessment that is popular the world over. Understanding your assessment results with a professional coach can give you a good start on your self-awareness journey.
Coaching be invaluable in helping you discover yourself, especially when you are in a senior role and have limited people you can share your thoughts with openly. A professional coach can bring in a lot of value in terms of being a sounding board and thinking partner for you. So, this is something I urge you to consider in your personal growth journey as a leader. Of course, I am here to help.
If you want to understand more about emotional self-awareness and how coaching can help, then do schedule a 15 minutes consultation call by clicking on the link above.
We've all been there: you invest in a leadership training program and hope to see the promised results. But, months later, nothing has changed. Meanwhile, your team is still struggling with communication and collaboration issues.
Did you know that only 50% of leadership training programs yield the desired results? That's a pretty startling statistic, and one that should serve as a wake-up call to any company looking for increased productivity, better employee engagement, and reduced turnover. The reason is simple: Leadership development programs don't always deliver the ROI they promise because they're often designed in isolation from your organization's specific needs.
We all know that leadership training programs are not a one-and-done deal. They require continual reinforcement and upkeep to be effective. But why do they fail in the first place?
It's not just you, it's pretty much everyone else too. Leadership training programs have traditionally failed because of a few key factors. In this blog post, we will share all that can go wrong so that you can create more effective leadership programs by focusing on what matters most to your business. This way, when it comes time for evaluation at the end of your program, you'll know whether or not it was worth investing in.
Factors that contribute to the failure of leadership development programs
If the system does not change, it will set people up to fail. Research in the 1950s found that most supervisors regressed to their pre-training views after a while. The only exceptions were those whose bosses practised and believed in the new leadership style the program was designed to teach.
Training programs do not facilitate organizational change. Even well-trained and motivated employees are unable to apply their new knowledge and skills when they return to their units which are entrenched in established ways of doing things. In short, individuals have less power to change the system surrounding them than that system has to shape them. Organizations need “fertile soil” in place before the “seeds” of training interventions can grow.
When organizational change and development efforts are championed by senior leaders then training gains the most traction. That’s because such efforts motivate people to learn and change; create the conditions for them to apply what they’ve learned; foster immediate improvements in individual and organizational effectiveness; and put in place systems that help sustain the learning.
Organizations are systems of interacting elements: Roles, responsibilities, and relationships are defined by organizational structure, processes, leadership styles, people’s professional and cultural backgrounds, and HR policies and practices. All those elements together drive organizational behaviour and performance. If the system does not change, it will not support and sustain individual behaviour change—indeed, it will set people up to fail.
The effectiveness of any manager depends on the clear strategic direction that they have from the top management. Many companies consistently struggle with unclear direction on strategy and values, which often leads to conflicting priorities. This creates confusion and dissipation of valuable resources. When senior executives themselves don’t work as a team and are not fully committed to a new direction or acknowledged necessary changes in their behaviour, it is quite difficult to expect the rest of the managerial team to be able to deliver effectively. The problem then is more about the incongruence between what they learn in the training program and what they see on the ground in their organisation.
Sometimes a top-down or laissez-faire style by the leader prevents honest conversation about problems. Employees hesitate to tell the senior team about obstacles to the organization’s effectiveness. This, coupled with a lack of coordination across businesses, functions, or regions due to poor organizational design and inadequate leadership time and attention to talent issues can create an environment where performance will be hindered, no matter how good the training program is.
Hence while developing leadership programs, it is important to start at the top, ideally through a coaching intervention. Coaching of the senior executives will help bring clarity on the strategic direction and values. This can then be cascaded down to the next few layers through group coaching and training.
By addressing management practices and leadership behaviour that shape the system before training individual employees, leaders create a favourable context for applying the learning. The systemic changes encourage—even require—the desired behaviours.
Too many training initiatives rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture, or CEO mandate.
Context is key. One size does not fit all. Many organizations invest in off-the-shelf programs or send their managers to academic leadership courses offered by well-respected universities without considering the real impact and results they are looking for. While these can be great for the individuals in terms of their personal brand building, it does not serve the purpose for the organization. Companies need to ask themselves what the desired outcome is and how a program will relate to specific organizational goals.
Often, leadership training programs are offered as a one-and-done approach. In other words, you attend a 2-day training and that is the last you hear of it. But while a one-and-done approach satisfies the need to do something, it ignores a critical fact: leadership behaviours and new habits are developed over time. Leadership development is all about creating good leadership habits. As we know habits cannot be changed just from attending a 2-day class.
Effective leadership development needs to be constructed as a learning journey that unfolds over time. But not only this—it should incorporate continuous coaching to help observe and reinforce good habits. It should also provide opportunities for skill practice and application. Nothing can replace on-the-job training and giving real-time feedback.
To ensure success for your team, combine professional development with coaching or mentoring sessions focused on practical application.
So, there you have it – some of the key reasons why your leadership training program may not be delivering the results you are hoping for.
Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behaviour which also means adjusting underlying mindsets. Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioural change—something that’s often missing in leadership courses.
Companies can avoid the most common mistakes in leadership training and increase the odds of success by first doing the groundwork of creating fertile soil for desired change, establishing clarity about strategic direction and values, matching specific leadership skills and traits to the context at hand; embedding leadership development in real work through coaching and mentoring interventions that investigate the mind-sets that underpin behaviour.
For designing effective leadership development programs in Singapore and India, reach out to us at email@example.com.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
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