What do they really think of me?
This is the concern that dares not show its face! Every leader I know has asked this question – but of him/herself, and rarely, if ever in public. We want to know; we need to know; we are so reluctant to ask! The higher you go in the hierarchy the more important it is for you to know the answer. As you rise in the organization, the impact of your decisions, the scope of your influence and the consequences of your errors all increase exponentially while those who can or will respond in truth become fewer. The people who have the power and courage to speak up to you likely don’t have a full, intimate awareness of your significant behaviors – they see only the outcomes. Those who are affected by your detailed actions, probably your direct reports, are too vulnerable – at least in their own minds. Four things that could help you represent a dimensional shift from conventional relationships and behaviors but they’re worth your serious consideration:
- Identify inherent strengths – both yours and those of your direct reports. This moves the point of focus to ‘will-power’ versus ‘way-power’, from power-based to passion-based, and it levels the playing field. If you share this information with one another as you develop strategies for change, you’ll encourage collaboration not competition, and you’ll learn more about each other.
- Use a Positive Introduction - For your next get-together, have each person prepare a brief introduction, up to one hundred and fifty words, describing a specific incident or event - one that describes you at your best. Think back to a defining moment in your life when you were able to be the very best you could be; when you lived to your fullest potentials and presented yourself authentically and in your very best ‘light’. This will provide insight into the real person versus the role and will demonstrate aspects of you and of others that will surprise you beyond expectations; it’s safe and yet it’s truly revealing.
- Take time and space periodically to ‘reinvent’ your business. This is beyond strategic planning and focuses on a focused study of a single aspect, product or service in your business where the normal roles and rules are suspended for a set period, where ‘sacred cows’ can be sacrificed and everything has to be remade from the ground up.
- Adopt an open question-centered style in your direction; encourage others to find needed answers in their own thinking and values. This sounds as though it could take more time than it’s worth but it actually saves time in the long run. David Rock’s book “Quiet Leadership” and Michael J. Marquardt’s book “Leading with Questions” are great sources of help with this stratagem.
These ideas will change your normal communication habits and allow for fresh input and insights. You’ll discover beliefs, perspectives and perceptions that aren’t usually aired and these will likely expand both your self awareness as well as your opinions of other key persons. Are you ready for this? Are you ready for the truth?
David Huggins MASc, FIoD, CMS is an experienced behavioral scientist and executive coach who’s dedicated to bringing out the best in individuals and groups. His insights and direct contributions have taken business leaders to elevated dimensions in performance. He can be reached through his websites at www.andros.org and www.polarisprogram.com © 2011 Andros Consultants Limited. All rights reserved.