The Self-Awareness Guy

Self-Awareness and Leadership

7 Questions to Help You Define Your Company Values

7 Questions to Help You Define Your Company Values

Leaders are often are so used to conducting business a certain way that they forget to take the time initially to define the values that are important to them an their company.  Values are the guiding principles that direct how you conduct business and how your customers and the world in general view your company.

Think about the following points as you start defining your company’s values:

1.  What is the reason for your company’s existence?

2.  In what ways does your company help the world?

3.  What would you like to hear people say about your company?

4.   How do you treat your employees?

5.  How do you treat our customers or clients?

6.  What are the guiding principles that affect everything you do?

7.  What’s meaningful about your company?

When you have thought carefully and written down the answers to these questions you can begin the process of defining the values of your company and creating a culture based on them.

Values will help you create a coherent presence in the business world.  They will broadcast who you are and attract a clientele that appreciates the same things you do.  They will also help you create an organization based on the things that really matter.  What are your company values?



Are You Really an Effective Leader?

Are You Really an Effective Leader?

When I facilitate leadership training the participants frequently describe a leadership style that is pervasive in many workplaces. It usually consists of a leader who is a good person, works really hard and means well but is constantly overwhelmed and reacting to events. This creates a leadership dynamic where the leader is in survival mode and really doesn’t have the time or perspective to lead in any other way. Working frantically isn’t the same as actually being productive. Very often, these decent and caring individuals end up being the dreaded bad boss or ineffective leader. It’s not because they’re horrible people, they just don’t have any other way of doing things.

When it comes to leadership, I think in terms of practicing positive behaviors and how they generate certain results. When we do positive things it tends to create more positive results. If we choose to focus on the negative we get different outcomes. To begin evaluating whether you’re an effective leader see if you recognize the following behaviors:

1.  Always checking up on employees.
2.  Constantly asking employees for updates.
3.  Feeling rushed or pressured.
4.  Feeling out of control if things aren’t done a certain way.
5.  Running from one fire to another.
6.  Constantly reacting to events instead of planning beforehand.
7.  Living with constant stress or tension.
8.  Telling employees what to do instead of listening.
9.  Not really happy at work.
10.  Needing to dominate others.

Do you do any of these things? It’s not horrible if you do, it will just create a certain kind of workplace dynamic than if you were to refocus and practice the following alternatives:

1.  Lets employees do their work independently.
2.  Trusts employees to keep him up to date.
3.  Feels calm and balanced even under pressure.
4.  Lets people do things in ways that make sense to them.
5.  Doesn’t create or add to the fire.
6.  Plans proactively to minimize emergencies.
7.  Relaxes at work.
8.  Listens to employees and values outside input.
9.  Happy at work.
10.  Doesn’t need to dominate others.

When you look at these two lists which one sounds more like you?  Effective leaders tend to be more like the second list and enjoy happier work lives and fewer heart attacks. There’s no secret to behaving this way in the workplace. All it takes is letting go of the old way of doing things and replacing it with more productive behaviors. How will you start being a more effective leader?


Why Are Leaders So Stubborn?

Why Are Leaders So Stubborn?

Leaders sometimes think that being stubborn is the same as being right about something. They hang on to their position no matter what happens because they just don’t see any other option. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this behavior but it does affect the leader and team involved; usually in less than positive ways. Here’s a couple of things to think about if you know someone who is amazingly stubborn.

Being Stubborn is a Defense Mechanism

People who are stubborn hang on to their beliefs at all costs because they feel they are defending something very important.  Even if the issue doesn’t seem important to others, it is to them.  People in this situation frequently believe that if they give up their position, something terrible will happen.

Being Stubborn is a Dead End Street

Once someone decides to be stubborn they have painted themselves into a corner because they severely limit any options to fix anything. They hang onto their point of view no matter what and literally can’t explore other options because they don’t allow for any.

What is Right?

Stubborn people frequently think they are right but, if you think about it, what’s right and what’s wrong? We can usually measure what’s right by whether the results of a given behavior leads to positive outcomes. Yet most stubborn behavior just leads to entrenchment. I’m not certain most people would say that being stuck is the same as being right or happy.

So What Can We Do?

Stubbornness can be a daunting challenge. Some people are so stubborn that they will live a miserable life just to prove their point. The only real way to alleviate stubbornness is for someone to get help to interrupt the behavior patterns and beliefs that lead to the current situation. There’s not much other people can do except make themselves available to talk with the person and set limits and boundaries.

Being stubborn rarely leads to positive results and it isn’t very effective at creating inspiring workplaces. The good news is that the cycle can be interrupted by taking a good look at oneself and slightly shifting the behaviors that lead to being stubborn. The result?  Greater happiness and more successful leaders.


Leadership that Limits Success

Leadership that Limits Success

There are countless smart, well-intentioned people in leadership positions who limit their organization's success without even knowing it because they behave in ways that hinder growth and progress. What they may not yet realize is that leaders can consciously choose to behave in ways that increase success rather than impede it, let's look at some examples of both approaches:

Behaviors that Limit Success

Need to control everything and project authority.
Only one vision.
Resistance to change.
Inability to listen.
Personal insecurity.

Behaviors that Increase Success

Let go of the need for power and control.
Entertain new ideas.
See things from more than one perspective.
Be willing to change.
Listen to people actively and often.
Work on being a secure, balanced individual.

A big part of self-awareness is understanding how your behaviors impact how you and your employees function. Even if your organization is already highly successful, you can practice positive behaviors to make things run even more smoothly. It all starts with being willing to evaluate your own leadership behaviors. What will you do to lead in a way that encourages success?



How to Be a Happy Leader

How to Be a Happy Leader

When I train leaders they often tell me they have difficulty experiencing happiness at work.  Happiness is a wonderful concept which I define as experiencing bliss and contentment.  Happiness is also complex in that you could not experience it if you didn’t also experience pain.  A life of perpetual happiness would soon feel uneventful, so you need the ups and downs that come with everyday experience.

How do you define happiness at work?  Happiness can be that moment at which you feel complete satisfaction and fulfillment.  It can be using your talents and abilities at work to grow and feel worthwhile.  Happiness is what you experience when you work through challenges and let go of the things that hold you back.  Here’s what some smart people have to say about the matter:

Helen Keller:

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves

Pearl S. Buck:

The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.

Audre Lorde:

The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.

Kahlil Gibran:

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

Finding happiness at work means looking deep inside yourself and using your talents and abilities to benefit yourself and your workplace.  How will you find happiness at work?