Your work is not only about managing others; it is about managing yourself. You are the center. You must be in good shape personally to manage others effectively. What if your professional development as a manager centered on you – your balance, happiness, intellect and fulfillment rather than on rote skills or others’ definitions of leadership alone?
At a minimum, you can focus your professional development on managing yourself, even if others do not. You will see good results from this that move your career in a positive direction. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started:
• Do I value self-management as important to my career?
• How is my relationship with time?
• Have I achieved a reasonable level of balance in my life?
• Do I have a place within where I go to manage stress, set my direction and deal with challenges?
When you manage yourself and maintain a strong center, your work managing others will benefit. In the environment you manage in today, it is like finding the eye in the center of a hurricane; stillness and peace are the place you move out from, into the storm of everyday managing.
photo: Photojogtom, Dreamstime.com
When I am working with clients who are preparing for an important event or meeting, we often use a tool named “Who Am I?” I first used the tool with a client who was uncertain of how he would present himself at an upcoming conference where he would be meeting people for the first time. Our purpose was to find a way that he could center, build his confidence and handle himself well.
The tool works like this:
• prior to a meeting or event, take time to identify who will be there and how you fit in (set the context)
• identify why you are attending and why you belong there (center yourself)
• take time to lay out what you want to say about yourself when you meet people and what you will say about why you are there (presenting yourself)
• identify any doubts or insecurities you have about the meeting and address them, so you are not caught off guard – in some cases there may not be anything to do about them, but decide how you will handle them – in other cases, chase them away (build confidence)
• identify 3 or more goals that you have for the event or meeting (focus yourself on results)
So often, preparation marks the difference between success and failure. Staying centered and focused goes a long way in building your confidence and reaching your goals.
photo: Salvatore Vuono, FreeDigitaPhotos.net
Sometimes you face challenges that initially seem insurmountable. How do you get to the place where you are ready to say, “I can do this”? It is not always easy.
To get there, build your belief in yourself. It is not always about being able to do the impossible when others ask for it. It is more about your ability to see a situation clearly, analyze what’s possible and determine what is that you and your team can do. Sometimes your hesitancy in saying “I can do this” is rooted in fear, a lack of information or uncertainty. In that case, don’t stop. Investigate and assess the situation. The key here as well, is to build your confidence and belief in yourself. Don’t underestimate your abilities or those of your team. Be ready to grow and stretch, if you need to.
Saying “I can do this” is a must for succeeding in management. But, in different situations, this statement has different meanings. Stay positive and out of fear, believe in yourself, keep a clear head and more often than not, you’ll be saying, “I can do this”.
photo: Master isolated images, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sometimes you can be in a situation that is too much, but still continue and try to handle it. When something is too heavy, it’s best to acknowledge it and figure out your best next steps. What do I mean by “too heavy”. We all reach for the best in our lives and that doesn’t change. It’s just that, at times, things we want to do or that others want us to do, are not working out and could end up harming us.
Examples of “too heavy” are: when a change you want to make has strong opposition and you do not have the power in the organization to counter it; when you are expecting way too much of yourself or stretching yourself too thin; when your expectations are unrealistic, considering the environment you want to reach them in or when you don’t have what you need to get something done.
Find ways to recognize when something is too heavy and you have to put it down for a while. You don’t have to give up, but you may have to re-strategize to get where you want to go. Having a lighter load will help you to do that.
photo: jesadaphorn, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Downtime: A period of time when one is not working or engaged in a planned activity.
How do you respond to the opportunity for downtime? Are you afraid of it? Do you use it well? In the world today, downtime is sometimes viewed as a luxury, rather than as the necessity it is. You know that you can’t keep going 24/7, as much as the pace of our world can try to push you to. Downtime is a necessity for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Sometimes as much as you need and desire downtime, it is hard to stop yourself to enjoy it. You may feel guilty, uncomfortable, worried about what you may be missing or unable to unwind. It is in your best interest to value and incorporate downtime in your life. Downtime restores, rejuvenates and relaxes you.
Any downtime on the horizon for you?
photo: EA, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The opportunity to create a space in which to think is viewed as a luxury these days. However, taking the time to think things out ensures better outcomes and often saves you the time of redoing or repairing past decisions.
Do you take the time to think things out? If not, what are the reasons why – it slows things down, it is too much effort or it takes too much time? What is the last major decision you made as a manager? Did you think it out? How do the results of your decision relate to the time you took to think it out?
Taking the time to think things out often results in your interests being better served, anticipation of obstacles or problems that may result from your decision, getting the facts you need to make the best decision for you and your organization and avoidance of unanticipated consequences. Thinking things out may take time, but it is time well spent.
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One of the things I have dealt with in my life is an inner need for approval from others. This need resulted in my sometimes being not very quick on the uptake when someone was manipulating or harming me. Eventually, I became self-aware and could discern more easily when a person was acting against my interests or trying to unsettle me. Once I could see these situations, I then had to set boundaries. My need to please would again interfere and I would rationalize and create confusion for myself. What I was really doing was avoiding dealing with the situation.
I developed a tool to help me discern when boundaries were needed. I called it “What I Know”. It took off my rose-color glasses and helped me assess a person or situation in an intelligent way. When I encountered a problem, trouble or unease with a person or situation I would privately make a list of what I knew about the person or situation to date. Only facts were on the list – no excuses or rose-color perceptions. It worked terrifically for me from the start and still does. Some examples of what was on a list: the person had undercut me in a meeting; the person had tried to “bully” or intimidate me; the person had disregarded my input in a disparaging way; I had seen the person manipulate others. Once I made my list, I was able to put the pieces together, see the situation more clearly and take appropriate action.
The ability to keenly assess situations and people, particularly in your work, is essential to success. The “What I Know” tool perhaps can be of help to you too, as you navigate as a manager.
photo: digitalart, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In our world today, force is often equated with power. I’m not so sure they are the same. Force is defined as coercion or compulsion. Power is defined as the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. In managing, there is merit in distinguishing between the two and in going for power rather than force.
You can see the difference, I’m sure. If you look at your style as a manager or professional, do you lean more toward force or power? Force involves pushing. Power involves directing or influencing. The experiences and responses of those on the receiving ends of force and power are markedly different. Cultivate your power as a manager or professional. It will far out-distance the use of force.
How about your workplace? Do you see more use of power or force?
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As I was writing my last blog post about being “hooked” by emotional issues that come up when you are coaching someone, I thought that it is not just during coaching that emotions can hook us.
How often are your emotions present during your workday? Once emotions are present they can hook you, leading possibly to losing your center, reacting in an inappropriate way or taking offense. Emotional self-awareness is called for to avoid emotional hooks. Emotions can be a runaway train, but when you are aware and in the driver’s seat you can manage your emotions and avoid being “hooked”.
Have any emotions hooked you this week?
photo: nongpimmy, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When you are coaching, “issues” are bound to come up. By issues, I mean topics that evoke emotions, anxieties, strong opinions and the like in the person you are coaching or yourself. When issues are introduced, you can get “hooked” by your own reactions to them. When this happens, you as coach have to maintain an objective presence and continue your coaching with a focus on the person you are coaching, not yourself. This can be a challenging thing to do.
Of highest importance is your level of self-awareness. You need to be able to discern very quickly when your own emotions start coming into play. If you feel yourself getting hooked in a coaching conversation, pull yourself back and regroup. Find ways to do this as quickly as you can. If you find you cannot, suggest a short break. Then, return to the coaching with your focus restored. After the coaching ends, you can deal with what happened. Getting hooked serves no one and damages your effectiveness as a coach.
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net