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This month: how should we role-model “followership” as well as leadership?

Empowering Beliefs (part 1)

Empowerment: How to reveal the unconscious thought processes that can either really help or really hinder you

If you want to adopt ways of thinking and behaving that get great results and satisfaction (to empower yourself), or to help other people do the same, one very useful approach is to reveal some of the unconscious processes that can either really help or really hinder you.

In my kind of coaching, we call these unconscious processes ‘beliefs’ and I’m going to show you how to work with them to make sure that they are as empowering as you can get them.

This article takes a brief look at what are called ‘Cause-Effects’. These are the connections we unconsciously establish when we perceive that something consistently and predictably leads to something else. A shorthand I often use is “this causes that”.

Let’s explore some examples.

1. To start with, think of something that’s important to you in your work: _________________ ?

Suppose you say that: “Success” is important to you in your work.

Now that we know what’s important to you, we next want to know what your life experiences have taught you about how to satisfy that. First, we’ll ask:

2. What enables someone to have [success] _________________ ?

To which you might answer: “Hard work”.

Next, we want to know what would make someone take action, to actually take steps to satisfy their important thing. Using the example above, why would someone put in “hard work” in order to have “success”? We’ll ask this question:

3. What does [success] lead to or make possible _________________ ?

To which you might answer: “Security”.

Now we’ve got a really significant part of the pattern that your unconscious mind uses in regard to “success” at work:

Using this example, we can see that this person is unconsciously saying to themselves, something like this:

“If I work hard, I’ll be successful; and I want to be successful, because that makes me secure”.

4. From here, we can start to explore deeper.

First the “Enabling” part.

Here’s a few simple examples of questions that can really get breakthroughs in people’s thinking and behaviour:

  • Does hard work always enable success for you?
  • What else does hard work create?
  • What do you do when hard work isn’t enough?
  • Could success for you also come from some other factor than hard work?
  • What else do you need, to be able to have success?
  • What other reasons might you have for working hard?
  • Which other people are important for success?

And then the “Motivating” part:

  • Does success always lead to security for you?
  • Is there anything that’s more important to you than security?
  • How much security do you want?
  • What other routes to security might there be?
  • Does success ever actually get in the way of security?
  • What did you learn about yourself when you didn’t have security?
  • Who else is part of this?

The answers to questions like these will reinforce how working towards “success” is something that helps empower you and others. They’ll also help you to spot when that isn’t enough and to be on guard for how the unconscious assumptions that (in this example, hard work -> success -> security), can actually be disempowering or produce unwanted results and behaviours.

You can also use this approach for negative behaviours that you’d like to change. Put that behaviour in the “Important Thing” box and work through the process above.

The Leadership Principle of Flexibility

Leadership: Have you got enough flexibility in your behaviour to adapt until you get the right outcome?

I found this old quote in my notebook yesterday:

“When a tree is growing, it is tender and pliant. But when it is dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions.

Andrei Tarkovsky

I’d kept the quote because it reminded me of one of my key leadership principles:

Have sufficient flexibility of behaviour so that you can adapt what you do until you get the right outcome

I can’t emphasise enough how important this principle of flexibility is and yet it’s often something that people struggle with at work. It seems that there are four main reasons why people aren’t more flexible in their approach to things at work:

  1. They’re concerned that changing the way they do things will be seen as a sign of weakness.
  2. They’re worried that actually they only know one way of doing things, and without that they’d feel helpless.
  3. They’re drawing too much on one of their other strengths (such as persistence and doggedness).
  4. There’s an important point of principle and they are concerned that trying a different way might compromise that.

And yet – if the way you’re currently doing it is NOT getting the right results, you have to ask, when is it time to try something else?

Try these simple steps first if you’d like to have a go at being more flexible in your leadership:

  1. How clear are you about what you’re trying to achieve?
  2. How do you know how well or not you’re doing? (What’s the evidence you can see, hear or touch?)
  3. How many strategies, or routes to your objective, have you already tried? (Hint, if it’s not more than one, then you may need to be a bit more flexible!)

One silly exercise I often set for people who want to practise being flexible, is to ask them to drive or travel home from work by a different route each day for a week. Have a go if you want, and see how resourceful it makes you feel!

When Leaders Need to Fight

The four types of grown-up fighting and three battlegrounds every leader must be able to win

Co-operation, compromise and connection are essential tools in the leader’s kitbag. If you’re spending most of your time as a leader doing those things, you’re probably getting it right. But if you’re never spending any time at all in conflict, maybe it’s worth looking at  where and how you might need to be doing some grown-up style fighting.

Click the image above and then right-click it to download/save a copy of the graphic

First, the three battlegrounds that you must have control of

That’s YOU – the resources, respect and room to do you what you need to do, to the best of your ability.

Then there’s YOUR TEAM – are you looking out for them; clearing the way and getting them what they need?

And of course YOUR BUSINESS or organisation itself – as well as planting the right seeds, are you fighting to keep your crop healthy, safe from predators and clear of invasive weeds?

Second, the four types of fight you’re going to need to engage in

FAIRNESS – Are you, your team and your business being treated with fairness and respect and not being taken advantage of? If not, you’ve got a fight on your hands!

RESOURCES – Are you, your team and your organisation getting the resources you need to do the job you’ve got to do? If not, where do you need to come out fighting?

DETERMINATION – Are you taking a stand for yourself, for your team and for your business when it matters? If you’re not standing up for all three of those – who is?

COMPETING – Are you, your team and your business able to compete with the strength and flexibility that it takes to win in a complex and inter-connected world? You don’t have to play for a win-lose scenario, but you absolutely can’t be the losers yourselves.

“Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.”
Mahatma Gandhi