“It is folly for him to rule over others who cannot govern himself.” – Publius Syrus
Are some of you shaking your heads in agreement with this quote? How many of you have had managers who have little self-awareness and prove it, over and over again, as they manage others? So much of success involves knowledge of people and how they interact. How can you gain this knowledge without knowing yourself – what motivates you, what disconnects you, what you need to collaborate effectively?
How well do you know yourself? How well do you understand what motivates and engages others with whom you work? Your effectiveness as a team member or manager starts with you!
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It is good to be self-aware and to know your strengths. What do you think is your best skill – communication and interpersonal relationships, leadership, specific technical or operating ability, sales, management, organizing?
When you know your strengths (and weaknesses) you can address your weaknesses and build on your strengths. It helps you set your career direction and to find the best fit for you.
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Do you see patterns in your life and career? Do you even look for them? Recognizing patterns can be helpful in understanding where your life and career are taking you. Often, we are the ones who create the patterns in our lives – by how we see the world, how we react to things and how we see ourselves.
By pattern, I mean a recurring form. A pattern may involve coming up repeatedly against a certain type of personality, harmful experiences of a similar type or your explaining circumstances in a repetitive way; e.g. “I am a victim.” It’s someone else’s fault”. “They do not see how good I am.”
As you recognize the patterns in your life and career you will understand yourself and your path much better. You can always break patterns once you are aware of them. You have the power to create and set new patterns – ones that affirm who you are and where you want to be. Let the patterns in your life propel you to where you want to go.
You have “senses” beyond your five physical senses. Your intuition and the inklings you get in life are there to help you discern what is best for you. You might as well use them. When you don’t listen, they can escalate into louder warnings and eventually a very hard brick wall, that you don’t want to run into.
Is there anything in your life and work right now that you sense is not good for you? Are you listening to or ignoring it? These “senses” come in different forms. They can be fleeting misgivings about something you are doing, a physical or “gut” feeling that something is wrong, a strong emotion about something or fear, when you think about dealing with it.
To avoid an uncomfortable crash into a brick wall, get in tune with your extra senses. When they speak to you, center yourself and listen. Not only are they warning signs; they will guide you through the situation, if you let them. No need for you to hit those brick walls – stay away from them!
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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?
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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.
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Self-awareness is a major advantage in managing. Every manager has a style, whether conscious of it, or not. What is your management style? Here are a few questions to get you started in answering this question.
• Do you give higher priority to people or results?
• How important is open communication to you?
• Is equality or authority more important to you?
• Would you say you are calm or high energy?
• How have others described your management style? Do you agree?
You don’t have to fit into pre-determined categories, or fit a mold, in order to know your management style. What’s important is that you that you manage consciously and effectively.
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With the pace of life today, you do not have a lot of time available for contemplation or anticipating what’s to come as you go about your workday. You can easily find yourself in an emotionally charged situation without knowing how you got there. In this environment, what can you do to maintain your cool?
The best approach is self-management – managing your stress levels by not letting them get out of hand, developing your emotional intelligence and self-awareness, creating balance in your day and developing ways to handle your emotions, when your buttons are pushed or others’ emotions are running high. Sometimes, it’s about getting yourself out of a negative situation quickly, either to avoid it or to give yourself time to regroup before you deal with it.
Keeping your cool is essential to your effectiveness as a manager. Focusing your attention on how to do it is worthwhile and will serve you well.
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