Leading With Emotional Courage and VulnerabilityArticle by Maynard Brusman, November 4, 2019
Raising Your Leadership Bar
In today’s breakneck corporate culture, many leaders have redefined their success. Merely keeping up with the chaos has become an acceptable goal. The trend in organizational management is to focus on staying afloat and ponder the future if time allows. The common theme is do more with less.
Unfortunately, this attempt to enhance the profit picture as much as possible has created unprecedented levels of stress, dysfunction and disappointment for leaders. The time leaders can afford to spend on their leadership skills and personal growth, as critical as these areas are, seems to shrink every year. Leaders are under increasing pressure to make their companies all they can be, with little time taken to making themselves all they can be.
The most successful leaders use sound approaches to assess their work and determine what they can do to improve what they do. They understand that their company will prosper if they personally prosper as an effective leader with the best approach, ability, mindset and stability. How they go about raising their personal bar is the key.
What’s Your Perspective?
The most effective leaders have learned to step back and assess their leadership situation: their career, influence, personal growth and satisfaction. They ask themselves important questions and try to find answers:
- What things should I continue doing?
- What things should I change?
These are prominent concerns all leaders should address, according to leadership expert and author Peter Bregman in, Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work (Wiley, 2018). These areas are foundational in developing the character, skills and desires to lead well.
- What would it look like if you became all you could be?
- What’s keeping you from getting there?
- How best can you alter the things that are holding you back?
- What character traits are worth developing in this endeavor?
Leaders make the most progress in self-development by cutting through the clutter, looking at the big picture and making basic, yet profound adjustments. Bregman suggests four fundamental categories that leaders can examine to enhance their mindset, value and purpose:
Find a Clear Theme
Clarity is the ability to see things as they are with an accurate perception and understanding. According to Bregman, it is one of the most distinguishing character traits successful leaders possess. This encompasses not only reaching a state of clarity, but continuing to embody it.
Assess your recent performance and frame your effectiveness. Put together an historical picture to reveal patterns. Discern common causes for the things that did not go well. The goal is to find a personal theme behind it all.
You may find your theme to be similar to these:
- Emotions get in the way of clear thinking and reasonable responses. When I have calm responses rather than emotional reactions, outcomes are much better.
- Overthinking makes things more complicated. When I break things down into simple compartments, solutions are more effective and longer lasting.
- Rushing to conclusions with impatience takes me down terrible paths. Taking a more deliberate approach, dealing with one step at a time, yields a better understanding and thus better decisions.
Your theme determines the corrective action needed to reverse undesirable affects. Make it your ‘theme for clarity”. Let it be simple, doable and easy to remember. Make it your focus every day.
Sharpen Your Focus
In a fast-paced environment, it’s difficult to think about the future and where you want to go. Understanding how requires dedicated, undistracted thought. It requires a sharper focus on the things that matter down the road.
Preparing for the future should be a thoughtful and optimistic matter. Time must be dedicated to evaluating the possibilities and potential. This means that you’ll need to split your time between current tasks and potential or future tasks.
Bregman is keen to point out that this is difficult for many executives because of the common paradigm that non-essential tasks are not productive and have no apparent return. Leaders who’ve become all they can be know this to be untrue.
Future goals are gradually achieved by working in ways that, on the surface, have no short-term rewards, but in principle have great long-term payback. This includes networking and building relationships, daily writing or journaling, learning new personal skills and reading. The key is to continuously improve yourself and your prospects while understanding that these activities may not support your immediate role. It requires a renewed focus and dedication.
Be More Intentional
Leaders are busier than ever and have no energy to spare. They must be strategic and productive; their time must count. An intentional approach focuses on the most beneficial areas, and thinking can be one of them.
Find what matters: recognize that the things that bring you joy are just as important as the things that bring the organization the most benefit. Pursue both.
Joy is important to grow and refresh. It permits you to apply yourself and have a positive perspective in your role. Let go of the things that annoy, frustrate or drain you. Let emails go for a while.
Many leaders get worn down by wasting their time. Ineffective meetings, reports or trips take their toll. Make note of how you spend your effort, and revise your routine, commitments and habits to be more fruitful. Be intentional about your goals and the methods you’ll employ to achieve them.
Balancing Work and Life
Our culture has brainwashed us into believing that our occupations determine our identities and our productivity indicates our value. Breaking this unfortunate mindset is a struggle for most leaders.
Technology facilitates this myth. Leaders can be accessed virtually everywhere and battle a boundary invasion. A debased sense of value bleeds over into home life, where none of the work-related demands should be.
Leaders who’ve become all they can be have decided that their role at work is important, but not all-defining. Their joy and satisfaction stems from self-worth and all aspects of their lives: family, friends, activities and personal growth. As a result, they engage in all they do with optimism and effectiveness. The key is not necessarily dividing life into work and non-work time, but finding a way to balance it so that they complement each other.
Time management techniques at work can reduce the in-office demand and open up more non-work time. Establish a routine using the resources and staff available to you. Think ahead, anticipate demands and plan for multiple situations. This can reduce your stress and let you be fresher for the office and at home.
A richer work life is built on a foundation of a richer personal life. Enrich your relationships and activities at home, and practice joy. Your family deserves more from you than what’s left over from what your employer takes.
Save your sanity and energy and bring a fresh approach to each day. If you balance the aspects of your life, you’ll have a more fulfilling identity and a richer purpose. These are the best paths to becoming all you can be as a leader.Tags: emotional intelligence, executive coaching, leadership development, mindful leadership