Leaders Mental Challenges

18 09 2014

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”    —   John Quincy Adams

From one of his books, Richard L Daft, speaks of every leaders six mental mistakes; reacting too quickly, inflexible thinking, wanting control, emotional avoidance and attention, exaggerating the future and chasing the wrong gratifications.

“Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives have control over thousands of people and endless resources, but often do not have mastery over themselves. From a distance, larger-than-life leaders may look firmly in control of their business and their personal behavior ? What about up close ? Personal mastery is a difficult thing.”   (Daft, 2010)

Leadership is all about ‘people stuff’. A key element of a leader is to set goals and create performance indicators. The employees should be empowered to solve problems and achieve results. This will enable innovation and create trust. A prerequisite of a leader’s, is an open dialogue with their employees to clarify what goals are, and equally important, what they are not. Open communication will help visualize the expectancy the leader has of the employees and avoid misunderstandings.

Life can be challenging, in all of its aspects. The question is how we choose to face these challenges in order to reach our goals.

When Daft speaks of every leader’s six mental mistakes, he use metaphors. The metaphor Daft use for our two selves or parts are the executive and the elephant. He illustrates this by referring to as the inner executive and the inner elephant. “The inner executive is our higher consciousness, our own CEO so to speak. Visualize an executive riding on a large elephant, attending to control it, with legs dangling on either side of the elephant’s neck. The inner elephant symbolizes the strength of unconscious systems and habits”.

Daft makes us aware of the importance of being able to lead yourself first, which may lead you to become a great leader of your people. By leading yourself means seeing, understanding, mastering and leading your unconscious but powerful inner elephant. “You can appreciate that bringing your two selves into alignment and learning to be the master of your own behavior would have a terrific leadership payoff in satisfaction, inner peace, impact, and productivity”.  (Daft, 2010)

Let us take a closer look at; the six mental mistakes.

Reacting too quickly.

Patience, is a key word here, and be able to hold back instant reactions. “You have to be patient enough and make sure that you always remain calm”.  (Daft, 2010) Sometimes leaders have a tendency to overreact because their point seemed urgent, which can easily lead to interruption of someone. “Instant reactions often feel urgent, which makes the impulse hard to control. If you feel that urgency, when you were a child your inner elephant probably wanted to eat the marshmallow”.

By slowing down your reaction, it will lead to produce a better response. Daft mentions Robert Iger, who is CEO of Disney, he makes us aware of an important leadership lesson he learned, which was to “manage reaction time better. What I mean by that is not overreacting to things that are said to me because sometimes it’s easy to do”.

Inflexible thinking.

Our gut feelings is difficult to change. If we are convinced of something, good or bad, yes or no, we have a tendency to stick with our beliefs. “Once the inner elephant jumps to a conclusion about something, it typically does not like to change its mind. Your inner magician and attorney will fill in any needed details and defend against competing views. Why? To maintain your sense of well-being, prevent or reduce psychological pain, and let you feel good about yourself. Once your inner elephant settles on a viewpoint or belief, it resists, it resists letting go”   (Daft, 2010)

Wanting control.

People tend to have a desire for control. Managers don’t like to give away control. Daft tells us that many managers need to learn to give away control, managers think it is more efficient for them to keep their control. “If your inner elephant micromanages other people, your satisfaction will be at their expense” (Daft, 2010)

The author tells us that everyone’s inner elephant wants to be in control and is happier when in control. The key is to activate their inner executive to give control to others.

Emotional avoidance and attraction.

Avoidance.

Our emotions plays with us. In times we are aware of tasks we have to perform, or deadlines coming up, but can not fulfill the task. This is procrastination. To procrastinate means to; “delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off delay. You do not want to delay, but do it anyway, because your inner elephant resists more strongly than your intention”.

Daft, makes us aware that the resistance to the task symbolizes something from your past which triggers modest anxiety even when your inner elephant wants to avoid it.

Attraction.

We all have dreams and desires, which is important for having a good life. However, strong attractions, such as the need for perfection, may lead to problems for managers. Managers may also feel the need to act on their unthinking desire always to be right rather than let other people shine, to perpetually find fault with other people’s ideas, to win every disagreement, to blame others when something goes wrong despite being culpable, or to speak harshly when upset”.  (Daft, 2010)

Exaggerating the future.

Why do we have a tendency to exaggerate the future ?

Simply put, when we are attracted to a task, we are optimistically to the results, and doesn’t see any problems. “When the inner elephant is attracted to a future outcome, it overoptimistically anticipates good results and underestimates potential difficulties, so it fails to see the problems ahead”.  (Daft, 2010)

The same is happening when everything looks hopeless. “When the inner elephant dislikes or wants to avoid an outcome, it will pessimistically see more difficulties and problems than will actually occur”. (Daft, 2010)

However, when you start working with the ‘terrible task’, it wasn’t that bad at all.

Chasing the wrong gratifications.

Sometimes we are going in the wrong direction. If your work is only about money and fame, then you are chasing the wrong gratification. “The inner elephant loves the temporary good feeling that goes with external rewards, whether in the form of a trip, plaque, promotion or more money.

If you are passionate about your work, the work will feel easier and happier. ” The inner elephant can chase money into infinity, acquire luxury goods beyond imagination, and never experience the joy of performing a task just for pleasure. That is why the adage ‘Love what you do and the money will follow’.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.   —  Charles Spurgeon

Written by

Inger Lise E Greger, Master of Science in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 





Find Your Own Voice

12 08 2013

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.     Peter Drucker

Communication of all sorts means mastering the two conversations, the verbal and the nonverbal.

Nick Morgan, founder of Public Words Inc…., is one of America‘s top communication and speech coaches. Through his book, Trust Me, he outlines the four steps to communication success: openness, connection, passion and listening.

The purpose of this book  is to show how to structure the verbal conversations and make leaders aware of their nonverbal conversations of others. Morgan; “Once you’ve become a conscious master of the nonverbal conversation, you can learn to control it effectively by dealing with it in the realm of intent”.

In the author’s mind, nonverbal communication needs more attention and the reason is that it has been ignored by leaders too long, or treated as an accompaniment to speech. Instead, leaders are spending a huge amount of time and effort in getting their words right. Morgan; “Lawyers are paid millions to make sure that the words are not actionable. And yet the real conversation is happening all the time around them and it’s a conversation that they’re only dimly aware off”. Morgan is trying to make us aware that every communication is two conversations. If leaders speak with diffidence, ambivalence or confusion and their nonverbal conversation reveals their uncertainty, that will spread quickly to people around them, which means that leaders can’t afford this.

In connection with other people, we express ourselves by shaking our heads, we nod, roll our eyes. This is all expressions by our reactions, which show more than words can tell. Morgan; “The list goes on: duration, time, movement, action, spatial relationships, and pointing are all based in gesture”.

I just read an interesting Forbes article; Back To The Future With Face – To Face Technologywritten by, Carol Kinsey Goman, she say; “In Face -to-Face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-Face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use. We, get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language. And we rely on immediate feedback the instantaneous responses of others-to help us gauge how well our ideas are being accepted”.

Let us take a closer look at the four steps to communication success: openness, connection, passion and listening.

Being Open.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there where only walls.    Joseph Campbell

To conduct an orchestra you need to know your people. But first the conductor has to be aware about his own reaction’s before he/she can learn about others. It will then get easier to gain understanding and insight in people’s need’s and wishes. (My blog; Emotions)

What we show of our feelings, our emotional performance, is heavily influenced by social conventions and the impressions we wish to convey to others. It is socially constructed. (My blog; Emotions)

Morgan; ” A communicator who is transparent about her intent almost always gets more respect and tolerance from listeners than someone who isn’t. But to achieve that kind of openness and to make it real, you have to be transparent about your values, not just your opinions”.

Nonverbal conversation depends upon trust and is even more important to openness in some ways than the verbal. Morgan;”Trust is the essential goal of an open nonverbal conversation. And it is the basis of communication”. It is therefore well worth saying more about.

Cognitive behavior and approaches is all about our thoughts, often we are caught in a pattern we have difficulties changing. We need to be open-minded toward people’s views, ideas and thoughts. (My blog; Organizational Culture )

Morgan; “The essence of trust is believing that the other party will do what he or she says and that there are no nasty surprises coming. Trust is difficult to create and almost impossible to reestablish once it has been lost”.

Our body language speaks for itself. We connect and get closer to people whom we are open with and make distance from people we are not.  The face is capable of many expressions and the variation is big. However these four open eyes, raised eyebrows, nodding, and smiling are signs to openness.

The author makes us aware that our unconscious expertise at reading others gives us that much, but not much more. Most of us are poor at reading body language if we are asked to do it consciously.

Morgan; “Openness in communication especially in nonverbal communication, is the first step toward creating authenticity and charisma as a leader. Without it, you can’t begin to connect with audiences. With openness, the rest of the steps are possible, and you can become an effective communicator”.

Connection.

Communication-the human connection-is the key to personal and career success.     Paul J. Meyer

In conversation with people we need to remember that connected communication is reciprocal. Morgan; “For the most part, people feel obligated to listen if you’ve listened to them. Some self-absorbed people never reciprocate, the golden rule is deeply baked into our psyches”.

We tend to connect more easy with people who are like us. Also we connect better with ideas, communications, and with people we perceive to be different and unusual, scarce or rare. Morgan; “we are perverse creatures and can one day ignore and the next day embrace an idea, a communication, or a person who is unusual to us”.

Not surprisingly we all unconsciously measure the distance between ourselves and other people for obvious reasons of self-protection first, and interest second in nonverbal connection.

The author makes us aware that the culture differs and has an influence on the personal space, as in Mediterranean and Asian cultures where they tend to shrink the distances, and Western cultures preserve them.

Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking. (My blog; The Art of Persuasion)

Being Passionate.

Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.    Phil Jackson

Conversations become interesting when you show real interest, openness and passion. Then you create trust and connection. You show your heart. Morgan; “Showing your heart to someone is neither trivial nor easy. Trust must be firmly established, and the way to do that is through openness and connection”.

Here, the author makes us aware that the nonverbal expressions of emotion are stronger than the verbal expression, and if the two are at odds, the person you’re communicating with will believe the nonverbal always.

If we take a closer look on how to be passionate nonverbally, your emotionally state plays a role. Your emotional mood has a big impact on people in your environment, whether you are in a good or bad mood. Morgan; “Sincerity of emotion shows up in nonverbal conversation through, perhaps surprisingly, stillness and openness. While the strong passions anger; joy, excitement of various kinds-can all be signaled with energetic body movements, sometimes extreme stillness can be just as effective. Think of it like the voice; the point is to establish a baseline and then vary that to exhibit the emotions”.

Listening.

When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.     Stephen Covey

As a leader you need to be able to listen to your colleagues, and understand their point of view. Morgan; “People need to be heard to be validated as human. We’re a social species”.

You can look at the organization like a big team, inside the team there are people with different kinds of expertise, experience, knowledge, interests and perspectives. They all depend up on each other to achieve their best. You have to cooperate, talk and discuss issues of importance within your team. Give each other room to grow  and share views and ideas, and make sure to give support and motivation to each other. (My blog; Listen more)

In emphatic listening you need to hear, see, and reflect the deeper, emotional meanings of the dialogue. Morgan; “Here you identify the emotion underneath the words and respond in kind: I understand how painful this is for you, Joseph. I too had a project go bad early in my career. It really hurts.

If you can listen emphatically to your colleagues, you are giving them signals that you are genuinely interested in what they are trying to tell you. Being a good listener is a challenge for most of us, some are good at it and others are poor at it. Without any doubt, listening skills are of huge importance if you want to build good relations. (My blog; The Art of Persuasion)

How well do we listen nonverbally and charismatically. Morgan; “People know unconsciously the moment you begin to move on in terms of listening.  They may not realize it consciously at first, but unconsciously its immediate. You’ll see responses like moving nearer, grabbing an arm, raising the voice-all the activities that people use when they want to connect or reconnect”.

The author makes us aware of the importance to listen with your whole body. “Followers who are not listened to will not follow forever”.

Written by; Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

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