The Self-Awareness Guy

enlightened leadership

5 Ways to Be a Better Leader Starting Today

5 Ways to Be a Better Leader Starting Today

You can be a better leader starting today by doing some straight-forward things. It doesn’t take a complete personality change or throwing everything you know out the window, we’ll simply look at ways you can strengthen your skills.

1.  Let Go

You don’t need to control everyone to show you’re in command. You really don’t need to even command anyone. Practice letting go of power and control issues and looking at your employees as human beings with unique talents and perspectives.

2.  Let Your Employees Have Independence

Encourage your employees to think and do things for themselves. Ask them to solve their own problems and tell them that you trust their judgment. Independent employees feel happier because they have more control over their destiny.

3.  Make Yourself Available

This doesn’t mean hovering over your employees all day long. Be there to answer questions and provide guidance when your employees ask for help. Practice a true open-door policy by welcoming employees to come in and bounce things off of you only when they feel it’s necessary.

4.  Don’t Hoard Information or Knowledge

Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking they are the only people with a certain body of knowledge. Give your employees training opportunities so they can acquire valuable knowledge and help make your job easier. Sharing information will make your organization run more smoothly because more people will know what they’re doing.

5.  Be Flexible

People have personal lives in addition to their work lives. Create a policy that allows flexibility in hours or the ability to complete tasks regardless of location. Make sure you don’t check on people every ten minutes to make sure they’re doing what they said they’d do. Dare to toss aside punitive policies in favor of ones that seek to build people up or reach an agreement.

Being a better leader is often about what we don’t do, the ways we show restraint. We’ve been conditioned to think that leaders are the courageous swashbucklers that swoop in and fix everything single-handedly. Try the ideas we’ve talked about here and you won’t need to save the day anymore because your workplace will already be functioning positively.

Your employees will like you more as well.


Leadership 101: Dealing with Emotions in the Workplace

Leadership 101: Dealing with Emotions in the Workplace

Emotions in the workplace can be a challenging subject because, as leaders, we haven’t been taught what to do with them.  The rise in our understanding of emotional intelligence now helps us deal more effectively with emotions in the workplace.  We can do this when we understand what emotions mean and how we can create a workplace that encourages people to use them in a positive way.

Where does our discomfort with emotions come from?  Many leaders I train tell me their stories about not being allowed to express emotions in their families or how there were only certain feelings that were allowed.  In some families people aren’t allowed to show fear, in others they can’t be joyful, still others don’t permit sadness.  Our parents and their parents before them going back generations didn’t realize that emotions aren’t something to suppress and avoid.  Emotions are a natural part of being human.  We were designed to feel joy, sadness, anger, fear, affection, loss, numbness and many variations on those themes.

Why did this happen?  People just didn’t realize that it’s OK to experience emotions.  They kept hanging on to assumptions like sadness is weak or joy should be tempered.  Oftentimes, it was due to having to survive and not appear weak.   There just weren’t that many alternatives available to our ancestors.

We now have studied humans enough to know that experiencing our emotions thoroughly and freely is actually beneficial to us and is a natural part of being human.  It’s when we try to deny that emotions exist that we start making ourselves and each other miserable and creating problems in our lives and workplaces.

The paradox is that it’s  normal to be sad, happy, angry, scared or any feeling you have.  If you think about it, they’re your feelings and you’re allowed to experience them.

When you get in touch with your emotions you become stronger and you get to experience life on a deeper level and connect with your colleagues and employees in a different way.  Emotions are here to help you.  They signal when you are doing great and when you’re not.  They aren’t scary or undesirable, they’re just there.  Think of all the leaders and employees in the world who work in pain because they deny their emotions.  Now think how different their lives and workplace might be if they would just let themselves experience them.


Great Leaders Are Open to Change

Great Leaders Are Open to Change

I train many leaders and many of them have a difficult time dealing with change. The standard way of dealing with change in most workplaces is to get really upset and run around in great distress. Many people dwell on how things used to be and clutch desperately onto the old ways of doing things. This dynamic usually occurs because leaders and their organizations don't have the procedures in place to welcome change or view it as an opportunity for growth.

Change can be scary and daunting but what I've noticed affects workplaces negatively is how they deal with the situation. Leaders don't consciously try to complicate things, it's just that they don't know what to do and very often their leaders aren't helping them through the challenging situations. The next time you're experiencing any kind of change in your organization think about doing the following things to make it more difficult.

1. Pretend it's not happening.
2. Stubbornly keep doing what you've always done.
3. Whatever you do, don't change your perspective.
4. Complain to as many people as you can.
5. Don't buy-in to new ways of doing things.
6. Actively resist doing anything differently.
7. Stay nervous at all times.
8. Run around aimlessly.
9. Feed into the hysteria as often as possible.
10. Don't offer any solutions.

If you do these ten things you'll reverse the passage of time and you will go back to how things used to be. Realistically, you will have little or no impact on the changes going on which really leaves it up to you to decide how you're going to deal with what's actually happening. You have the ability to take even the worst situation and focus it any way you want. One of the great things about leadership is that you get to choose whether the change is a tragedy or an opportunity. What will you do to welcome change and use it to grow and succeed?



25 Leadership Traits of Great Leaders

25 Leadership Traits of Great Leaders

Here are 25 leadership traits of great leaders:

  1. They listen actively.
  2. They don't have hidden agendas.
  3. They don't have power and control issues.
  4. They've resolved their own personal hurts.
  5. They have empathy.
  6. They behave with kindness.
  7. They are self-aware.
  8. They are emotionally intelligent.
  9. They don't play favorites.
  10. They treat everyone with respect.
  11. They don't lead through fear, anger, or coercion.
  12. They know how to motivate people from within.
  13. They don't shout orders.
  14. They behave in a calm, balanced manner.
  15. They look for other people's strengths and encourage them to use them.
  16. Their co-workers and employees genuinely like them.
  17. They have low turnover in their departments or companies.
  18. They look for ways to make life easier for their employees.
  19. They pay well and offer good benefits.
  20. They don't create discomfort and chaos.
  21. They get along with people.
  22. They work well alone or in teams.
  23. They prefer two-way communication.
  24. They ask for feedback.
  25. They are constantly improving themselves.

Great leaders are always looking for ways to become better people, not just make money or force employees to do stuff. If you don't do all the things on this list, that's okay, it just gives you an idea of what to improve so you can become the most effective leader possible. Imagine your workplace being led by people who possess all these qualities. How do you make it happen? You train your leaders to behave like this.



5 Tips to Be an Innovative Leader

5 Tips to Be an Innovative Leader

Leaders have an amazing potential to make a difference in people's lives. Even our most basic actions can significantly impact clients, create new opportunities, change the world, or bring everything to a screeching halt. We personally choose whether we are leaders who make things happen or get in the way. Let's look at two leadership approaches that are commonly found in the real world: stagnation and innovation.

Leaders who choose stagnation find themselves continually endeavoring to maintain the status quo. They are often very caring and deeply committed to their organization but do the same things year after year. They cherish tradition and are comfortable with the staff, programs, mission, board, donors and volunteers they've had for years. There is little incentive for change in their organization because everything has run the same way for a long time.

An alternative approach focuses on innovation. Leaders who value innovation put systems in place that anticipate and welcome new challenges. They view change as an opportunity rather than a threat. Their organizations tend to encourage finding new ways of doing things and reward creative thinking. They benefit from being nimble and proactive rather than reactive.

The impact of each of these approaches on our clients is huge because we serve them differently if our leadership style is oriented toward stagnation or innovation. Leaders know intellectually that it's positive to welcome change and encourage innovation but there isn't a specific template for how to do it. Here are some practical tips to help you continue being an innovative leader.

1. Think outside the box and actually do it. Embrace a philosophy where you constantly seek extraordinary ideas and approaches. You will be better prepared to deal with the issues that come your way.

2. Help people shine. Find out what people do best and let them do it. Get out of the way and watch them grow. Be available if they ask for help but otherwise just let them be great.

3. Give up the need to control things. Let go of power and status and the need to be in charge. Invite new thoughts and perspectives. Remember that the cause you work for is far greater than any one person.

4. Practice excellent listening skills. Immerse yourself in what other people say. They will tell you what you're doing right or what needs help. Trust that your clients will tell you what they need and your staff will also teach you a lot.

5. Make some new friends and work with them. Partner with others and learn from their experiences. Forge lasting relationships that merge your talents and energy so you can serve even greater numbers of people.

Innovative leaders touch people because they know that leadership isn't about them, it's about everyone else. Think of a leader who made a remarkably positive impact on you. They likely took the spotlight off them and let you bask in the glow. The leaders who consistently achieve the best results are those who inspire others to shine.

A major benefit of innovative leadership is that it allows us to do more with less effort. We help our clients more efficiently because we think globally rather than according to some set script. We are more attentive to their needs and are willing to help simply because it makes us and them feel good. We go the extra mile because we are not afraid of the turns in the road.

Innovative leadership helps us let go of stagnation and start breathing fresh air. When we live without limits it opens doors of opportunity. If we shed our fear of change and chaos we get to see the world as a place where anything can happen. Without any boundaries, we are capable of achieving spectacular results. As leaders, we each have the potential to make a dramatic difference in someone else's life. Which path will you choose?