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How to be a Constructive Leader: 4 areas to focus on

Not so long ago, leadership was solely based on your position or title. It was expected that you would use the authority associated with that title to recruit, direct, control and dismiss the workers under you. You were required to promote (if possible), discipline, and reprimand the ones that didn’t perform as directed. Many workers were required to perform relatively unchallenging tasks and were easily replaceable. Money was the key incentive used to motivate staff.

Some of you reading this article may have experienced this type of leadership. The effects are generally very negative on all people concerned, including the leader. Some of those effects are:

  • You will develop staff that are overly dependent and are unable to take any action without permission
  • Workers act out their resentment toward the leader by indirectly defying his/her authority.
  • Workers can become overly critical and competitive with each other
  • High turnover rates within an organisation

These effects are destructive and go a long way to stifling creativity and provoking “dissension in the ranks”

 

So what has changed in modern times?

Two things in particular:

  1. The need for organisations to do more with less, innovate and compete in an ever-changing global market.
  2. The needs and expectations of the people started changing.

70 years ago Abraham Maslow suggested that people wanted to feel fulfilled and energised by their work. They wanted to contribute, feel valued and make a difference. Both employees and organisations alike are coming to understand this fully.

Leaders have had to learn to embrace the people as their most important asset. I’d like to suggest that future leaders in all workplaces will be required not just to have strong minds, but also generous and caring hearts

“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people, they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” Ken Blanchard

 

So What is Constructive Leadership?

Constructive leadership is having a balance between achieving the task and managing the people. Knowing how to achieve the task with the people, knowing how to adapt your behavioural preferences to suit the preferences of the people you are working with. It’s having an encouraging and inspiring communication style that supports people to challenge their own thinking, to push the boundaries with creativity and objectivity. It’s to approach life and business energetically and with strong instincts and intuition.

 

Let me share a personal story with you.

I was working with the General Manager of a nickel mine in the Gold Fields. This Manager had come from a well-established mine site in Africa and knew there were better ways of mapping the mine, whereby more information could be taken from the one plan.

So he assigned the task to a key planner that he believed had the ability to stretch his current way of thinking. He explained that there were better ways of mapping the mine and more ways of uncovering vital information to ensure efficient and effective extraction of the ore. The GM funded a new software program and explained the type of information he wanted to extract and then handed the project over to the planner. He gave him the tools, gave him a scope of what he wanted and basically left it up to him to create.

When I came for my monthly visit, this leader gave up his own coaching hour for his planner because he wanted me to hear firsthand what this guy had created. He was absolutely thrilled with what he had achieved.

When I sat with the planner his story was so inspirational because not only had he created what he had been asked for, he had gone above and beyond and created a map and plan that well exceeded the GM’s expectations. The benefits for the entire mine was that they were able to extract far more information, setting them up to be far more accurate in their drilling exploits.

Truly I was so inspired by the whole story so I asked the planner;

“What’s it like to work for Martin? (the GM)”  His response was –

“I love coming to work. I love every day here. I love working with Martin – he believes in me, he challenges me, but gives me the freedom to figure out how I can challenge the boundaries. I feel very privileged to work with such a great bloke.”

Can you imagine how productive this mine site was? Martin didn’t need to force people to work, he was able to inspire his workers through;

  • Genuine interest in his people – he got to know them personally, not by going to the pub for a beer, but by getting to know about their families, their hobbies, what they loved and what they disliked about their work.
  • Setting challenging goals, with the team, and with his belief in the people, they produced amazing results. He even nominated this planner for a town employee award.

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders” – Tom Peters

Having a clear vision and believing in your team will lead to incredible results.

 

What Can You Do To Achieve This as a leader?

Now that question is for you, because I’m sure you know the answer. However, as I’m writing this article, I will respond with how I would do it.

I always suggest firstly to find out where you currently are, what are your strengths, what are you good at, and ensure you do more of that. Identify the areas that you want to develop and learn ways of doing that. *Get feedback and measure how you are tracking.

Let’s use my logo (a tetrahedron) as a prop for explaining the 4 key points of leadership. *A tetrahedron is the strongest minimal structure – shaped like a pyramid, with 4 points and 4 vectors or 4 equal sides. Each vector must be equal in length, width and strength as the other three sides. If you were to then put downward pressure on any one of the points the structure will not collapse.

 

The 4 Key Points of Constructive Leadership:

 

1. Set a Shared Vision and Goals

Live and breathe the vision so people will be inspired by it. Focus on a standard of achieving excellence, and have a desire to continually challenge the status quo.

Set realistic, attainable, yet challenging goals. Lead by example. You cannot fake this; you must live and breathe it. Deal with conflict directly, rationally and encourage input from team members.

2. Be Self-actualised

That is be confident, be self-aware, believe in yourself and your capacity. Have an energetic, exciting approach to life, with a strong desire to know about and experience things directly. Be open minded, respect others differences. Your zest for life will be contagious.

3. Be the Coach

Enjoy developing people by having a genuine interest in enabling them to be the best they can be. Be open and accepting of people’s differences. Be patient with each individual’s gestation time i.e time it takes to grow and develop. Be willing to have your own beliefs and values challenged, demonstrate humility. Develop unique ways of involving individuals and teams in solving problems. Ask questions and seek to understand rather than be judgemental and critical.

4. Appreciate the value of relationships

Have excellent interpersonal relationships, appreciate people, and establish strong emotional and social ties. Be relaxed and comfortable in your own skin in crowds. Don’t feel you need to entertain others; it’s more about listening and getting to know people. Emphasise the value of teams and diversity. Have highly tuned

Don’t feel you need to entertain others; it’s more about listening and getting to know people. Emphasise the value of teams and diversity. Have highly tuned communication skills.

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” Warren Bennis

 

For some, you might feel you are already well on the road to constructive leadership, for others it might seem an endless journey.

As Lao Tzu, said,

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Brian Tracy said

“If you want to get really good at something, do something about it every day for 10 years and at the end of that time you will be an expert”.

I have personally experienced this journey developing myself as a coach, establishing my business 16 years ago and with the thought that if I did something, learned something new every day for 10 years I will be an expert. I’m still on the journey but I know a hell of a lot more than I knew 16 years ago.

My advice to you; Start your journey today. You won’t regret it.

Why Emotionally Intelligent People Are More Successful

Although there are an array of factors involved, generally the key component of ‘success’ comes down to interaction and relationships with other people. Success is not achieved alone. So to answer the question of ‘why?’ straight out of the gate; those with high levels of emotional intelligence connect with people on a deep, unconscious level.  People with high EQ have the ability to read how a person is feeling, use their own emotional self-management to adjust their communication and deliver a message that resonates with the whole person and not just their logical minds.

People will work harder, stay longer, be more tolerant, be more honest when they feel understood, appreciated, listened to and if they feel their input makes a difference. This is what leads to success.

 

Background

Although research was being done by Peter Salavoy and John Mayer in 1920’s and 30’s it was the release of Daniel Goleman’s book in 1996 “Emotional Intelligence” – Why it can matter more than IQ, that people have become more aware of this subject. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re aware of what it is…

So what Is Emotional Intelligence?

According to Daniel Goleman , “Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups.”

Wikipedia says it like this;

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour.

 

The case for emotional intelligence

EQ gives you the ability to be able to motivate yourself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate your moods and keep distress from swamping your ability to think; to empathise and to hope.

 “In the fields I have studied, emotional intelligence is much more powerful than IQ in determining who emerges as a leader. IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional Intelligence can.” (Stephen Covey, Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effecgive People)

Research by the Center for Creative Leadership found that the primary causes of executive derailment involve deficiencies in emotional competence.

This was also supported by the research done by the Carnegie  Institute of Technology that showed that 85% of our financial success was due to skills in “human engineering”,  to communicate, build relationships, negotiate and inspire people to want to follow.  They found that only 15% was due to technical ability. In other words, people skills or skills highly related to emotional intelligence were crucial skills.

Results of a McClelland study showed that after supervisors in a manufacturing plant received training in emotional competencies such as how to listen better, lost-time accidents decreased by 50% and grievances went down from 15 per year to three. The plant itself exceeded productivity goals by $250,000.

 

Let’s Make a Few Things Clear…

  1. EQ does not mean “being nice” but rather, for example, confronting someone with an uncomfortable but consequential truth they’ve been avoiding.
  2. EQ does not mean giving free rein to feelings – “letting it all hang out” Rather, it means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goals.
  3. EQ alone won’t get you places, you do need some IQ but research continues to produce results suggesting that EQ will take you further, will enable you to be more successful than someone with similar or even higher IQ but without the same level of EQ.

 

Emotions Drive People and People Drive Performance

 

You think about it – People prefer to do business with a person they like and trust than someone they have doubts about, even if what is on offer is a better product or lower price.

The higher up the organization the more crucial emotional intelligence abilities are. Naturally the impacts of their decisions and behaviours are greater, felt throughout the entire organization.

The same principles apply in all areas of life, whether at work or in relationships. Everyone wants to be around people who are easy to get along with, supportive, likeable, honest and trustworthy. We want to be beside people that do not get upset easily and can keep their composure when things do not work out according to plan.

 

Self-awareness –  The first thing that is essential for any degree of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. People with a high degree of self-awareness have a solid understanding of their own emotions, their strengths, weaknesses, and what drives them. They are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful; these people are honest with themselves and others. They are aware of their emotional responses, can label them, and recognize how their feelings impact them.  They are clear about their goals and values and where they are going in life. They are confident yet aware of their limitations so less likely to put themselves in situations where they will fail. They are comfortable talking about themselves in a frank open manner.

Ability To Self-Regulate Emotions – We all have emotions and they will affect us.  Quite frankly if we didn’t have emotions we wouldn’t be human.   People who are good at self-regulation, however, are able to manage their emotions so they can make rational decisions and motivate themselves, even in stressful situations.

 

“Either you Learn to Manage your Emotions or They WILL manage you.” – Anthony Robbins

 

People who self-regulate have the ability to wait until their emotions pass, allowing themselves to respond from a place of reason, rather than simply reacting to feelings. The signs of someone who is good at self-regulation are reflection, thoughtfulness, and comfort with ambiguity, change, and not having all the answers.

Recognising and Understanding Emotions in Others –  Empathy is another important aspect.  Someone who has empathy will have an awareness of the feelings of others and consider those feelings in their words and actions. This does not mean that they will tiptoe around or be unwilling to make tough decisions for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. It simply means that they are aware of, and take into consideration the impact on others. They are willing to share their own worries and concerns and openly acknowledge other’s emotions.

Managing Relationships with Good Social skills –  Social skill is another area of emotional intelligence that is important in the workplace. To have good social skills requires a high level of all the other skills already mentioned, as well as the ability to relate and find common ground with a wide range of people. It goes beyond just friendliness and the ability to get along with others.

Having excellent social skills allows them to be good team members as they are great at making connections, networking and uniting people.

 

Can EQ be learned?

The good thing is EQ can be learned.  If you get clear on what Emotional Intelligence is, measure your ability as to where you are and if you are committed to change then 100% yes you can increase your EQ.

 

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch. We use EQ-i2 and EQ 360° diagnostic tools to determine your EQ, from there guiding you through the results and how they can be effectively put to use in your own success journey.

Why Seeking Feedback Plays Such an Important Role in Success

Everyone, at some point in their professional development, wonders how they are doing. Feedback plays an important role in this self-awareness process. As individuals, we have our own perceptions as to how effective we believe we are in the workplace.

But what about the impact your behaviour has on others? Do they see the same qualities in you as you see in yourself?

If you have desires to improve yourself and climb the ladder of success, one of the most important elements of this journey is to be able to see yourself through the eyes of others.  To know how your leadership style, communication style or perhaps your conflict style impacts others. Does it encourage or discourage people? Does it motivate or demotivate?  Being able to look at ourselves through the eyes of others provides information essential to the self-development process.

Are you seeing yourself the way others see you?
Are you seeing yourself the way others see you?

Often what we mean to do is not what others see. Learning the difference can greatly enhance our self-awareness and improvement.

Due to the sometimes negative experiences individuals have had in processes like performance reviews; they often avoid asking for others’ opinions of themselves and their workstyles. Hence, the concept of “feedback” is often confused with “criticism”. This is a mistake.

Let me share my story with you…

Many years ago I was working in a direct selling organisation, managing a large group of people.  I would present to well over 100 individuals on a weekly basis and worked a little more closely with a group of about 8 down line Managers, 4 up line Managers as well as a dozen peers.  Feedback in this industry was encouraged and people would openly share their thoughts, opinions and recommendations.

After a period of time, I started to realise that a big chunk of the feedback was not actually helpful to me. From my peers and Managers, I would receive positive feedback combined with specifics about how I could improve, grow and develop. Yet other feedback I was receiving simply felt like criticism with no specifics, no balance and basically just felt negative.  It felt like it was coming from people who basically just wanted to discourage me.

I recall lying in bed one morning thinking this was all getting too hard and it was knocking my self-confidence around.  It was then I decided I simply needed to manage the feedback.  So I set some boundaries around the feedback. They were:

  • Only accept it from people I respected and admired;
  • Those people whose lives or businesses were working
  • Those people who were moving in the circles I wanted to move in.
  • Those people who I believed genuinely wanted the best for me and would give me honest and balanced feedback.

For most of the feedback outside those boundaries, I let disappear into the ether. This had a much more positive effect on my growth and development.

So what I’m suggesting here is to seek out feedback, but set your own boundaries around who you want to receive it from. I’m not suggesting you only seek out feedback from those people that really like you and will tell you what you want to hear, but balanced with both the positive and the areas for development.

Audit the sources of your feedback!

The intention of feedback needs to come from a space of genuinely wanting to help people grow and develop. If the recipient knows that, it will be a positive experience.

There are various ways of receiving feedback; from formal through to casual.  Some of the formal ways are through the use of a 360° assessment whereby you complete a questionnaire for yourself and your manager/s, peers and direct reports answer the same questions about you.  A report is produced and the results of this type of feedback are given in a supportive coaching session.

Other types of feedback are through performance reviews, through a mentor or coach, or informally with a group of people that you respect and value their feedback.

As I’m writing this article I can imagine that some of you might feel a little anxious.  I can assure you, feeling that way is quite normal but something you need to overcome.

This element is so very valuable for your growth and development that the fear behind it needs to be overcome.  It’s not easy, but it’s certainly something you can do.  When you really think about it, what are you afraid of?  It’s quite simply hearing something negative about ourselves, and really what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen?  You may disagree with it, but here I’d be cautious about that because you may disagree, but you may also not know it about yourself.

Introducing the Johari Window…

The Johari Window is a communication model that is used to improve understanding between individuals. The word “Johari” is taken from the names of Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who developed the model in 1955.

johari_window

Quadrant 1: Known Self or Open Self

This is the information about the person – behaviour, attitude, feelings, emotions, knowledge, experience, skills, views, etc - known by the person (‘the self’) and known by the group (‘others’)

Quadrant 2: Blind self 

This is what’s known about the person by others but is unknown by the person themselves.  By seeking feedback from others, the aim should be to reduce this area and thereby increase the open area i.e. to increase self-awareness.  This blind area is not an effective or productive space for individuals or groups.  The blind area could also be referred to as ignorance about oneself.  An example is when someone repeats a word or statement over and over like “I guess”.  After a while, that is all the audience can hear, causing them to miss the balance of the conversation. Yet the person delivering the message isn’t aware this is happening.

Quadrant 3: Hidden Self 

This is what’s known to us but kept hidden from, and therefore unknown, to others. This hidden self represents emotions, fears, information, agendas, secrets, likes and dislikes that for whatever reason, he/she chooses not to disclose. It’s natural to keep personal information private, however when it ‘s work related, it’s so much better to be exposed in the open area.

Quadrant 4: Unknown Self 

The final quadrant contains information, feelings, dormant talents, abilities etc. that are unknown to the person and unknown to others. Large unknown areas would typically be expected in younger people, and people who lack experience or self-belief.

What you do with that feedback is the next vital step in your journey. I have coached hundreds of Managers and have seen on many occasions whereby the feedback was given then filed away into the filing cabinet.  Really what’s the point?  It’s just a waste of time, money and devalues the people who spent their time giving the feedback.

I always encourage the people I work with to go back to the people who gave the feedback and thank them. The next thing is to do something with the feedback.  A desire or wish is simply that unless you take some action.

Create a development plan and set some goals.  Document the areas you want to improve with specifics of how you will go about it and put timelines on everything.

If people see you actually making the effort, let alone changing, it sends such a positive message.





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