I'm often asked about tools that I offer my leaders. I have a number of self-assessment guides, behavior workshops, reflections, skill assessments and even equipment I provide to my coaching clients but some of the most incredible tools for leaders are within your own reach. I discuss a few of them below.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the greatest of them all.
Sometimes when we reflect on our own abilities and performance we can vastly over-appreciate our abilities or under-appreciate them. In both situations, we do ourselves an immense disservice. It takes a great deal of painful humility and deep internal and external awareness to reflect back honestly and accurately.
Maybe that's why so many, see what we want to see and stay there. Those who want to grow look into coaching because coaching is a way of exploring this reflection. One of the barriers to coaching, however, is if the client is not coachable. To be coachable, you are willing to look at your own performance with the thought that it can be better, you are open to criticism without taking it personally, and you have a certain level of detachment from your own ego. To be coachable also means you are open to someone helping you to self-reflect.
Reflection creates the condition for learning and growth
By reflecting on your interactions, meetings, or activities, with an eye to the past and observing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, provides critical input for improving and growing. With a detachment from the moment, you give yourself the opportunity to evaluate the situation fully. That type of reflection creates the condition for learning and growth. However, the hard truth is that many don't feel they have the time or don't take the time for such a practice. Self-reflection takes commitment and is a habit to cultivate as it takes time to develop the habit.
Change is hard
If it wasn't then all New-Year's resolutions would be accomplished. Sadly only 8% of New Year's resolutions emerge completed. Here are a few tips to help cultivate self-reflection:
- turn off the distractions and use the time for self-reflection
- cultivate prayer or a meditation practice
- take 10 minutes a day to reflect
- reflect at the end of your day what went well, what could you gone better and be grateful for it
- bring your challenges into a coaching conversation
- take a few moments at the end of meetings to reflect on what could have gone better
When I was crafting course material, I uncovered a curious phenomenon in the most resilient leaders, positive self-talk. Here I refer to the internal dialogue, images, music or feelings that occur in the midst of a potentially stressful event. For some people, it's self-talk, an internal dialogue with that friend who is always with you, but what I've discovered is that not all of us engage in self-dialogue.
For those who don't engage in this internal chattering, you may discover feelings, sensations, images or even musical lyrics are your internal chatter. Whatever your self-talk is, what is it communicating?
I've discovered while interviewing leaders that the most incredible leaders communicate resiliency with their internal ramblings. If their well researched ideas or suggestions are met with resistance, they've created an internal chatter that is supportive. I had a young female leader when faced with words of rejection for her ideas from a room full of older male leaders, she treated it like nothing more than mosquitos buzzing around, a nuisance.
Your ideas are right!
What this did for her, is it made her resilient and it communicated, "You're ideas are right. Keep pressing forward. This is nothing but a distraction."
The truth is we are deaf at times
One of my leaders who thought she had great awareness, discovered in a coaching session, how her self-talk was creating further negative thoughts and causing further harm to her career. In the middle of leadership or management situations especially those of crisis, disagreement or strong opinions, negative self-talk can sabotage your ability to lead. Being aware of your self-talk in those same situations takes effort otherwise you may miss it, which is why these same leaders take advantage of coaching.
Taking time away from leadership moments to notice your self-talk, to journal your findings, or to talk with a trusted advisor or coach, may help reveal moments when your self-talk is getting in the way of your leadership. Once you are aware of this you can start to come up with ways to have your self-talk work for you instead of against you.
Here's an actual hand-held tool you can use as a leader. I hesitate to recommend tools and gadgets in general, because leaders can tend to get absorbed in the latest tool that enhances leadership performance and lose sight of the purpose of the tool. However, I have found this tool to be invaluable.
The reasons I use this tool are the following:
- I can take notes anywhere
- The notes are captured as pdf (or text if you like) and emailed to me (or to whomever I specify)
- I have the option of storing my notes in the cloud
- The notebook is compact and can fit in my laptop bag or purse
- My notes are easily organized
- confidential - no problem, I can store them on my encrypted hard drive and erase my rocketbook with water
- I can organize my notes by date, subject, etc and it makes it super easy to find
- These notes make it easy to share with other meeting participants to see if there is anything else we should include to the final version of notes
All my best,
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