self awareness posts
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June 14th, 2011
When working with executive teams, I’m often amazed by how many men and women would rather internally combust with feelings of frustration, resistance, anger, powerlessness or heart-felt sensitivity than to just simply say it!
Executives grit their teeth and bury their fingernails into desktops to resist articulating their human-ness. I’m not talking about throwing a boardroom temper tantrum or having a good cry in the reception area. Rather, I’m simply suggesting that articulating how you’re feeling “in the moment” is a huge component of developing one’s emotional intelligence and communicating effectively with a co-worker.
Gone are the days when businesses were built on widget-making. Successful businesses today focus on relationship-building. Communication and developing one’s emotional intelligence are really good competencies when you’re trying to build relationships.
Emotional Intelligence encompasses a number of aspects of oneself. Consider these points the next time you’re about to personally pop a blood vessel;
Experience a feeling, recognize it and then give the feeling a name that fits – anger, frustration, sensitivity, embarrassment, stress, etc. To be emotionally intelligent, you must be able to accurately identify your feelings and emotions.
State your feelings to others simply, succinctly and cleanly – no need to add any drama.
“This long project is making me frustrated and overwhelmed.”
“I am embarrassed about missing yesterday’s deadline” ”
“I am feeling sad, I wish you could see my point-of-view.”
Try to be empathetic with others who are experiencing strong feelings. Try to be empathetic with yourself when you are experiencing feelings. This is important to do, especially in the middle of a heated debate. Your perception of the situation will be widened, giving way for many more creative and strategic solutions.
Listen carefully and accurately re-state others’ concerns or beliefs. Part of being emotionally intelligent requires you to be able to listen to others and then reiterate their views accurately. Remember that acknowledging another person’s point of view doesn’t mean you agree with them, but it does mean that you have correctly heard them.
Relationship building and leadership assertiveness go hand-in-hand. By respecting and considering other people’s viewpoints, opinions and (emotions), you can derive many options when faced with a decision. It’s important to be open and not be boxed-in by limited thinking or narrow-mindedness. State what you think clearly and assertively and, if you need to shed a tear or two in the process, don’t get so fussed about it.
How about you? Do you have a good example of when you said what you were feeling to your team? How did it feel?
June 01st, 2011
In the role of facilitator, I intuitively watch people’s body language and listen for repetitive themes from each individual around the table.
I’m often struck by the inability for individuals to shift their perspective or position to move the meeting forward. If you want to get productivity out of a team. Make sure you validate those who have positive attitudes and coach those who are “stuck in the mud”.
For example: At the beginning of a meeting, discussion of the issues at hand was 80% focused on the negative and only 20% focused on the positive. By the end of the meeting, however, most people had shifted their perspectives to 80% positive and 20% negative.
It’s unrealistic to assume that everyone can switch their views in the time span of a meeting. Even so, though the rest of the meeting participants are now only hearing 20% negative, there are always a few who have been unable to ‘come around’ and have turned that same 20% into 100% negative.
This led me to consider what triggers people to listen only for negative details.
The source of all negative feelings is an assumption that you’re not being valued, that we don’t care about you or that we’re trying to take advantage of you.
These 1 or 2 people who have turned their 20% negative into 100% need to become more self-aware of what’s triggering them. This self-management leads to achieving a desired outcome which, in this case, is turning their 100% negative focus into an 80% positive perspective.
Has this every happened to you? Were you able to self-manage or did it take time for you to be aware of what was triggering you? Please, let us know – comments keep this blog well-fed.
April 19th, 2011
Emotional Intelligence is a critical component for healthy teams and productive meetings.
When working with others, I develop my emotional intelligence by practicing a high level of self-awareness. This came in handy the other day when I was on a conference call with two experts on my team to develop a new, web-based tool.
When I say experts, I mean that each one of these individuals has specific strengths that I do not possess. Therefore, when we are on a conference call, it’s really important that all three of us have acute listening skills. In order to be effective in our collaboration, we need to understand the other person’s position as much as we understand our own.
On this particular day, I was quite stretched. It was late in the afternoon and I could feel a cold coming on. At the 60-minute mark into our call, my concentration ability had flatlined.
Instead of hanging tight, I stated “I am full, I need to end this call because I can no longer listen or take in any of the details that are being discussed…are you willing to continue this conversation in the morning?” I then shared the information about my cold, etc.
The next day, one of my colleagues told me that he really appreciated how I ended the call. He admired my ability to be straightforward and stated that, in the past when he had been in similar situations, he often toughed it out in order to get through the meeting. He now realized the consequences to himself and others in doing that.
When you feel full, make sure you let others know so that you can get back together and have another effective meeting at a later date. With this behaviour, you will raise the bar for meeting engagement on your team.
Have you been in a situation where you zoned out of an important meeting because you were overloaded? What did you do? What did you miss? Or maybe you’ve been able to speak your truth and end a meeting before your brain shut down. How did that feel? How did your colleagues respond? We’d love to hear from you!
September 23rd, 2010
Wikipedia states that Silos are used in agriculture to store grain or fermented feed known as silage.
Are you fermenting your team’s business knowledge in your own wee silo?
As my neighbour’s children run around their backyard chanting this favourite tune; “I am the King of the Castle, you’re the dirty rascal”, I am reminded of one leaders’ “aha” moment about “silos” in a recent leadership team meeting.
In business, silos can be created by an individual, a team or an operating division/department. Silos, within business, are characterized by holding on, controlling or turf protecting which become synonymous with power struggles, lack of cooperation and loss of productivity.
In this recent leadership team meeting, Rory* commented that he often had difficulties being productive because he judged his fellow leadership team-members as working in silos. He felt that each member focused on their own tactical projects, but didn’t take the time to support their fellow team members on common initiatives.
For the following monthly meeting with this leadership team, I introduced our ‘feedback matrix’ competency. The feedback matrix teaches members about and offers the opportunity to practice how to give one another corrective and directive feedback.
I asked each member of the team to make two statements to each of their co-workers. The statements were;
- “Working with you, one of the difficulties that I have is…”, and
- “Working with you, one of the appreciations I have is…”.
The greater the number of team members, the greater amount of feedback each person receives. It is very useful for each member to note any repetitive feedback they receive from their co-workers.
In his group of ten colleagues, Rory learned, from many, that his co-workers rarely knew what he was working on. They commented that their personal interpretation was that Rory was not sharing information about his project because he assumed they were too busy to hear from him. They stated that they often learned about a projects’ tasks far too late to offer Rory any support or resources.
With his jaw on the boardroom table, Rory realized the company did not have operating silo’s but rather that he had created his own silo.
Once Rory became aware of his own behaviours that lead to creating his own departmental silo, he was able to take the necessary steps to overcome those behaviours. He began by connecting with co-workers more often, sharing current tasks and reporting on project progress.
In leadership meetings, Rory started to experience many leadership team benefits; improved team relationships, higher productivity, better use of resources and personally feeling more effective and engaged.
The feedback matrix helped Rory increase his own awareness and responsibility of creating his own silo. He is no longer fermenting important team knowledge.
What silos are you stuck in?
*Name has been changed.
September 09th, 2010
Have you lost your way? Are you stuck in the “Why Are We Here” stage of project development?
When working with teams, I often run into leaders and executives struggling to complete a task or project. Instead of realizing that they need to re-vitalize their own personal engagement and commitment, they are engulfed by a cloud of ‘stucked-ness’. The true death of project development.
Progressing through the stages of project development ultimately lies in our ability to apply a little emotional intelligence. Having a personal awareness of ‘what’s going on’ and recognizing how to manage behaviours to get unstuck are key to navigating through the tough stuff that will get us to the next stage.
I have found that there are three common scenarios of ‘stuckedness’ within teams around project development:
1. Lost Sight of the Big Picture
What happened to the idea of my blog being the perfect platform to connect with and build business relationships?
As my recent blog on the stages of project development describes, priorities recently tore me away from my project of writing and posting regular blog posts. In dealing with the tacticals of each post such as audio, video, SEO, categories and tags, I realized that getting caught up in the details of the project had clouded my original reasons for blogging.
Therefore, when I reached the ‘Why Are We Here” stage, I found myself back-peddlin’ after losing sight of my original project excitements, which were my values and the big picture vision.
2. Shiny Object Syndrome
How come the project seemed like a good idea last week, but this week you want to move onto something else, even though the other project isn’t complete?
I have often witnessed those stuck in the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ of the “Why Are we Here” stage. They typically lose interest in the project very quickly. They live off of the adrenal high a new project offers. The many
to-do’s required to get a project off the ground has them feeling cornered.
They are ‘stuck’ in the tension of aborting versus continuing.
3. Overwhelming Paralysis.
What if your role in the project is a task which is not aligned with your primary strengths?
I worked with a VP of Human Resources recently who was struggling to complete the budget for her division. Her strength was people not finance! Her lack of confidence and competence paralyzed her progress.
With self-awareness comes an opportunity for self-management. In each of these cases, the “Why are We Here Stage” offers an opportunity to move forward.
Now that I know I’ve lost sight of the big picture, I will re-connect with the vision of my blogs.
Those suffering from shiny object syndrome will have a sense of accomplishment once the project is broken down into manageable goals.
For people stuck in overwhelming paralysis, consider the advantage of building project support. Asking someone to be your accountability partner or finding someone to discuss the tasks with will alleviate your project anxiety and allow you to take charge of the project by getting help along the way.
The project stages offer us a framework to access where we are in our project. By combining emotional intelligence, self-awareness and self management skills, you already have the ability to apply these techniques and new behaviours to ensure all projects are successful.
How do you move on, when stuck in the “Why am I Here” stage?
October 13th, 2009
CEOs & leaders try to create a workplace culture to match their brand identity. However, management of productivity and results can sometimes set employees into a flurry of activity which, in turn, can detract from the espoused cultural norms.
The brutal fact is that in some workplaces the real cultural norms are – if you want to take a break, you need to start smokin’!
I received an email in response to my “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most unproductive of them all” post. The commenter (let’s call her Suzy) had the courage to blow the whistle on the unspoken norms in her workplace.
Suzy said the culture did not support the idea of taking a break here and there, going for lunch or just taking 5 minutes to walk around the office. Instead, she described how she found an outlet for a break with one of her smokin’ co-workers. She realized that the smoker took regular smoke breaks throughout the day. So she decided to share an outdoor break with the smoker. It was almost as if the habit of smoking allowed people to take a pause. During these short breaks, Suzy could re-group, re-energize and return to her desk being more focused and productive. The smoker has now left the team.
Suzy no longer has a reason to take a break, not being a smoker.
After reading my blog, Suzy checked her assumptions about the unspoken workplace norms with a couple of her co-workers. They agreed. One gent sheepishly revealed he felt the need to hide if he wanted to take a break.
What are the brutal facts of the workplace culture within your company? Are you allowed to take little breaks so you can be more productive? If you can’t, is your culture contributing to people burning-out?
Do you, CEOs, leaders and executives, have the courage to question the brutal facts of your espoused (this is what we say we do) workplace culture vs. the real culture (this is what we actually do)? Do you think that your culture is burning people out? If you want to find out, ask people anonymously. If the answer is no – great!
If you find out that your company has a burn-out culture. Are you willing to make the necessary changes – promoting individual productivity and team sustainability ?
And finally, please don’t start smoking just to take a break.
October 01st, 2009
Right now you’re probably buried with work, right? Even so, you took a quick break to check out this post. But if you’re like most executives, you probably need more “time out” from your workload to recharge, build relationships and trust, and maintain maximum productivity.
Believe it or not, most executives are not nearly as productive as they could be. So if you have another 80 seconds right now, check out this video on the importance of increasing productivity and building trusting relationships by simply taking a time-out within each day.
- For 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. shut off all electronic devices. Unplug from the business imperative that you must always be in touch. Instead be in touch for energized pockets of time,
- Make personal contact with people. Have 5-minute check-ins. Walk around, say “hello”, “how is it going?”,
- Peak at the ‘paper’ in the reception area – get the scope on who is waiting for a meeting with one of your colleagues and why?
- Take a colleague for a coffee or lunch. You can re-energize, build relationships, solve business problems and have fun all at the same time!
What else do you do during the day to recharge and improve your productivity? Let me know.
September 03rd, 2009
Managing workplace interruptions can be done effectively when leaders, managers and executives have the courage to assert themselves by articulating clear boundaries and communicating them to their co-workers. Clear boundaries establish personal and professional work parameters so that individuals can focus on priorities and get results.
Recently a client asked me how to manage multiple interruptions at work.
Sue, the Vice-President of Marketing & Communications spent the first 2 hours of her morning in a meeting, drinking coffee, and plenty of water (can you see where this is going?). When the meeting ended all she could think about was getting to the washroom. Opening the boardroom door, she noticed her direct report.
Without even a “Hi” or “How are you” the report chimed “Did you get my email?”
Sue looked at her and immediately responded – “Just a sec”.
She continued to race to the washroom door, all the while, sensing her direct report was still following directly behind. Approaching the washroom door, and getting closer to her own office – she hears her desktop phone ringing. Her mind floods with reminders of the chaos of emails she left behind prior to the meeting. As she reaches for the handle of the washroom door, she feels the vibration of her PDA…
Can you imagine the sense of overwhelm that Sue must be feeling? I can. Leaders, managers and executives are challenged with multi-tasking each day.
Sue could have been more effective by asserting herself:
- In the moment the direct report said – “Did you get my email?” Sue could have kicked into the depth of her self awareness – sensing the feeling of overwhelm and chaos to set a clear boundary.
Simple solution: “give me 20 minutes”, not 2 secs but 20 minutes.
Why does she need 20 minutes?
Because, it is not possible to be effective in the midst of overwhelm. As a leader, it is Sue’s responsibility to manage herself effectively so that she can guide her direct reports to increase productivity and ensure team results. Sue needed to give herself 20 minutes. Get back to her office, read the direct reports email, ‘land’ after her first meeting and get ready for the second.
Leaders, managers and executives need to become more aware of how they get knocked off course with multi-tasking and other workplace interruptions. Use the skill of setting clear personal and professional boundaries to be more productive.
Are you willing to share your lastest story of how multitasking has thrown you off track? Please enter your story in the comment section – let’s learn from one another.
August 14th, 2009
This weekend I went to see Julie & Julia. Loved it! It got me thinking about “The Feedback Self Disclosure Matrix,” a tool that can help all of us – particularly CEOs and senior managers – create deeper connections and better results in our businesses and with our teams.
This matrix is based on the foundations of the Johari Window model that was developed by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in the 1950s. The Matrix is comprised of four quadrants.
Each quadrant represents a part of our self, representing particular behaviours, feelings, motivations that are known by (self) and about the person (other).
At the bottom of the illustration you see how the four different quadrants of the ‘self’ can be altered in size reflecting the relevant proportions of each type of ‘knowledge’ of/about a particular person.
The four quadrants of our “Self” are Private, Public, Blind and Unknown.
The horizontal axis shows how much a person asks for & receives feedback.
The vertical axis measure the amount the person self-discloses & gives feedback.
This dynamic feedback model illustrates:
- People with high emotional intelligence (large ‘public self’ – orange box) ask for feedback, give feedback and self disclose often. They have well-developed public personas.
- Those who are protected (large ‘private self’ – green box) keep ‘what they know about themselves’ private. These individuals rarely choose to self-disclose. Their Private Selves are large, making it difficult for colleagues to comfortably collaborate and communicate with them. These individuals often control the flow of conversation by asking many questions. They rarely share their own experience. So, they don’t get much feedback so their Emotional Intelligence is suspect.
- Aggressive (large ‘blind self’ – yellow box) give plenty of feedback but don’t ask for it a lot – their Blind Selves dominate. They aren’t as aware of themselves or environment. This hampers their ability to work collaboratively or take in feedback from others. They have a low level of Emotional Intelligence.
- The Well of Potential (large ‘unknown self’ – brown box) these folks neither ask for feedback, nor give much feedback – if they started to open up, they would experience a great deal of professional and personal growth because they would be developing their Emotional Intelligence.
After seeing Julie & Julia, my girlfriend left the theater inspired to do more cooking – I left with the realization that this blog is a perfect vehicle for me to self-disclose. I can decrease my ‘private self’ while increasing my ‘public self’. As I write this I realize that will take additional courage on my part – yikes. I’ll get feedback!
I’m rarely at a loss for words. I think nothing of standing in front of 500 people to lead a professional development seminar. But spilling my guts in front of a video camera to post a new blog is scary. I get the shakes even writing this!
Back to the movie …
Julie trembled in her boots as she blogged about her frustrations, joys and commitment to learn how to cook the Julia Child way. She opened her Private Self to make her experience more public. I connected with her more deeply because of it.
Executives with high emotional intelligence are better able to lead and motivate their people.
Sharing their Private Selves is an important behavior. I realized that just standing up in front of a room and blogging are public activities, but it doesn’t automatically mean I’m revealing or connecting.
There is learning here for me, as there is for the CEO’s, sr. managers and executives that I work with.
Lets drop the hesitation. Pick-up a bit of courage. Boost our Emotional Intelligence. So, we’ll no longer miss an opportunity to gain more feedback and build deeper connections.
I’m committed to doing so – thanx Julie!
With time, courage, and your feedback, I’ll explore my Unknown Self, become more comfortable with my new Public Self, and get better results through improved Emotional Intelligence.
Are you comfortable sharing your Private Self in your business life? Think it might be important to develop your Emotional Intelligence? What do you think?
Download Feedback-Self Disclosure Matrix
June 19th, 2009
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke of Reneevations discuss self awareness and choices that each of us can make to heighten our emotional intelligence. How you manage your energy really impacts how successful and fulfilled you are in your professional and personal life.
Choices to manage/move your energy:
- Make More of the Situation = be creative in the face of adversity – create a solution that serves you better,
- Make Less of the Situation = direct your energy toward a more positive outcome in lieu of being ‘stuck’,
- Make Nothing of the Situation = CrisMarie discusses how she made less of and then nothing of her 1988 Olympic experience.
Life is an energy game – make your best choice today!