Archive for April, 2011

Coaching to Core Ideals – Ideal Loser or Leader

This is another post in the series Coaching to Core Ideals.

The IDEAL LEADER is 1) Visionary, 2) Authentic, 3) Disciplined, 4) Accessible, and 5) a Strategic Learner. See the Coaching to Core Ideals post to get a quick overview and context for the series. We are going to break each sub-topic down over the next few weeks.

The IDEAL LEADER is ACCESSIBLE

  1. Physically available to the right people at the right time
  2. Adept at creating forums that important knowledge, information, and direction setting goals can be shared and understood.
  3. Emotionally, mentally and intellectually available

If you strive to be an Ideal Leader then you must be mentally and intellectually available to people when you are physically with them. When you are investing your time as a leader to be with someone…BE WITH THEM! Sounds crazy simple, but some people leaders are checking the box with their people time. Ideal leaders should not only value, but cherish purposeful time spent with a constituent or employee.

Have you ever lost someone’s attention when their smart phone beeped, buzzed, or vibrated? To all the managers that use a Blackberry or iPhone while in a conversation or meeting with your team or an individual…you are an ideal loser and not a leader. I am witnessing this disturbing trend firsthand. It is growing exponentially with the advent of smart phones and technology. A manager or ideal leader “wannabe” can be with someone physically, but spiritually and mentally be checked out.

I don’t think leaders aspire to fail their people. BUT when you grab your “Crackberry” when you are with your team in a meeting or individually you do not show up as an Ideal Leader. You actually show up more like out-of-touch, self-important, pitiful folks that don’t understand that the people you lead want your full attention. Don’t squander your greatest opportunity. It is invaluable for a leader to gain real clarity and understanding for what is most important to their people and to also communicate what you value to them as a leader. You do this by being connected with them emotionally and intellectually and being fully attentive and present.

Unless you have a life or death phone call; turn it off and put it away…and focus on being accessible. Outside of truly urgent things your emails can wait. Emails or texts don’t need to be returned or answered within minutes or even seconds. Why would you let a device train you to serve it rather than it serving you? If all your issues are urgent, then you have entirely other dire problems that need handling before you can set down with another person or your team and do some real work.

Some of the greatest perceived risks (by leaders) show up when being vulnerable in sharing–not only what they are thinking, but what they are feeling. To share or show emotions at times can be powerful and also uncomfortable. Being “in control” is important for many of us as leaders. And it really is important. There are times that you need to check in with your feelings and emotions and make conscious choices about whether it is appropriate for the moment to share them. It has everything to do with emotional awareness.

Feelings are a great source of information for leaders and they often get discounted in value to leaders. This is a mistake. I am coaching leaders to distinguish the difference between acting out of or upon their feelings and being aware of them as strong indicators of energy and commitment. When we tune into our emotions and feelings we access some very surprising opportunities to make powerful choices.

Simply acknowledging your emotions can be the beginning of checking in with your commitments. When you put your smart phone away and then experience anxious feelings that you might be missing something…ask yourself, “What is my anxiousness really connected to?” Is it about being left out or not being in control? Is it a behavior that you have just fallen into? Because, just like Pavlov’s dog experiment you have acquired a conditioned response!

The vulnerable leader is a powerful leader that is open and trusts their self as an emotional being. This power comes from understanding their own context and relationship to their feelings and intellect. A more powerful way of being with your feelings is to use them as a great source of information. Feelings “inform” a leader about what’s going on with them within the domain of the situation they are experiencing. Ideal leaders see that the situation is really taking place within them. And their own filters or feelings are a big source how they interpret that experience and the accompanying emotions.

An Ideal Leader strives to consistently own their interpretation. When you can name it and choose your response you have become emotionally intelligent. An emotionally intelligent leader seeks clarity and understanding of the origins of their own feelings. There is a narrative within the domain of leaders and managers that simply goes something like this… “There is no room for feelings in when it comes to leading a business or managing people”.

Intuitively leaders have varying degrees of awareness for (or a sense for) what they are feeling. They can’t differentiate themselves or the issues from what is really going on within the business and its people. They often can shut down their awareness of “feeling” to protect themselves from being human. This makes some very important data inaccessible or rarely acknowledged for the value it can bring to the power a leader needs to make decisions.

When a leader either doesn’t acknowledge their feelings as real or they act out of them in an automatic response they are not a differentiated human being. It often takes some very real life challenges to break some leaders down. The biggest and toughest woman or man that leads a Fortune 50 can be reduced to tears of joy or sorrow. It just depends on how present they allow themselves to be with what is happening.

Even more challenging at times is to share what you are sensing. Leaders often know they are walking the thinking and intuition tight rope when decisions get made. Even the most important decisions facing a company or individual are often based more on “feeling” then the head. In many ways leaders can’t take risks in being vulnerable by sharing what they are “feeling” or sensing. So, it becomes a challenge to acknowledge that you can’t think your way out of a problem. When you allow others access to your feelings and sense then they can contribute to you…if you’ve put your smart phone away and listened.

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