Leader’s Courage To Be Vulnerable

7 08 2015

””We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…..we must do that which we think we cannot”  –  Eleanor Roosevelt

There are two main ways in which leaders wear masks. Some conceal their perceived inadequacies and flaws behind the polished facade we have come to expect of ‘great’ leaders, a bit like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical The Phantom of the Opera. Others take on a new persona at work that they feel is necessary for success, much like Jim Carrey’s character Stanley Ipkiss in the movie The Mask who transforms into a flamboyant green superhero. Both types of mask undermine trust and effectiveness. They also create inner conflict, as leaders struggle to align their work and home lives.(Harvard Business Review, 2013, Leaders, Drop Your Mask’s)

‘Daring Greatly'(Brené Brown, 2012) is an interesting book and a warning about the danger of pursuing certainty and control above all. Dr. Brené Brown, makes us aware of and dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. Brown; “It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt”.

An important management’s task is according the writers of the book; The Drucker Difference, to develop people in a way that make them able to perform in an extraordinary way. “In Concept of the Corporation, Drucker wrote that ‘the most successful and the most durable institutions employ managers who induce  in their members an intellectual and moral growth beyond a man’s original capacities”. This end is embodied in Drucker’s very definition of leadership; “leadership is the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limitations”. (The Drucker Difference, what the World’s Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today’s Business Leaders,2010)

Going back to Brown and Daring Greatly. The author informs us that vulnerability isn’t good or bad, nor a dark emotion, nor is it always a light or positive experience. Brown; “Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness”.

Brown say that vulnerability is the core , the heart, the centre, of meaningful human experiences. Experiencing vulnerability is not a choice, we can choose how we would like to respond when confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

“When you fail, make sure that you don’t dwell on it. Fail fast, learn everything you can, and move on”. From her book ; The Mountain Within, Herta Von Stiegel has some interesting thoughts and makes us aware that it’s tempting to suffer and get too involved in the mire of failure. Stiegel; “Give failure it’s proper role in your mind, a place to dwell briefly, learn and reflect, and move on”. Uncertainties is always a challenge , either we like it or not. Stiegel; “The future is all about surprises. Expecting them is half the battle. Being ready for the unexpected is the other half. But how can you be ready for something that you don’t or can’t see coming ?” Stiegel shows us the importance of releasing yesterdays or even an hour ago’s attachment. (Berta Von Stiegel, The Mountain Within)( from my Blog)

Back to Brown and where she makes us aware of some very persuasive leadership research which supports the idea of asking for support is critical, as well as that vulnerability and courage are contagious. The author refers to an article (Harvard Business Review, 2011) Authors of this article (Peter Fuda and Richard Badham) is using series of metaphors to explore how leaders spark and sustain change. ” One of the metaphors is the snowball. The snowball starts rolling when a leader is willing to be vulnerable with his or her subordinates. Their research shows that this act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to follow suit”.

Shame is a painful feeling. Brown; “A sense of worthiness inspires us to be vulnerable, share openly, and preserve. Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid. In shame-prone cultures, where parents, leaders, and administrators consciously or unconsciously encourage people to connect their self-worth to what they produce, I see disengagement, blame, gossip, stagnation, favouritism, and a total death of creativity and innovation”.

To be open and honest includes among other things; the painful truth and standing up for what’s right, where keeping promises is of huge importance and proves that we can be trusted to uphold commitments and lead as a good example. From their book (Moral Intelligence, Doug Lennic/Fred Kiel)  say; “When leaders betray confidences, they lose more than respect of their work associates. They also dry up valuable sources of information because their employees and colleagues learn to withhold sensitive information from a loose-lipped leader.” (Ingerleg’s blog)

When Brown talks about shame resilience, she explains that it is a strategy for protecting our connection with both ourselves and our connections with the people we care about.

Brown’s four elements of shame resilience:

1) Recognizing Shame and Understanding Its Triggers. Here it is important to physically recognize and feel your way through it when you are in the grips of shame. You can ask yourselves questions like; what is the triggers ? What are my feelings physically ? Are there a way through it ?

2) Practicing Critical Awareness. Here it is important to be aware of the signs that are driving you to shame, and are the messages realistic or attainable ? Are you in pressure of what other people want from you, or is it what you want to be ?

3) Reaching out. Brown;” Are you owning and sharing your story ? We can’t experience empathy if we’re not connecting.”

4) Speaking Shame. Brown; “Are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame ?”

These four steps can be used in different order and they will always ultimately lead to empathy and healing.

Leaders need to re-humanize education and work in order to reignite creativity, innovation and learning. Brown; “This means understanding how scarcity is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame”.

Shame and blame are disruptive in organizations. Showing respect and dignity of individuals should be of the highest values. Brown; “There is no leading by fear”. In an organizational culture where respect is of high value, there is no room for shame and blame and it won’t work as management style. Brown; “We can’t control the behavior of individuals, however, we can cultivate organizational cultures where behaviors are not tolerated and people are held accountable for protecting what matters most: human beings”.

Organizations need creativity and innovation as well as engaged learning to solve complex issues. Brown; “We can’t afford to let our discomfort with the topic of shame get in the way of recognizing and combating it in our schools and workplaces”.

Browns four best strategies for building shame resilient organizations:

1) Leaders who are supportive and willing to arrange honest conversations about shame as well as cultivating shame resilient cultures.

2) Brown; “Facilitating a conscientious effort to see where shame might be functioning in the organization and how it might even be creeping into the way we engage with our co-workers and students”.

3) Normalizing is according to Brown a critical shame resilience strategy where leaders and managers are helping their people to know what to expect. You can ask these questions; What is the common struggles and how to deal with them and what you have experienced ?

4) Brown; “Training all employees on the differences between shame and guilt, and teaching them how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters growth and engagement”.

Giving feedback is everything, without feedback there can’t be any transformative change. Brown; “A daring greatly culture is a culture of honest, constructive, and engaged feedback”.

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”   – Winston Churchill

Author, Inger Lise E Greger MSc 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/

More blog posts by Inger Lise E Greger





The Intuitive Leader

23 01 2013

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.   Henri Poincare

Intuition is a powerful key-element to use in leading people. We are all people with feelings, when things are going well or wrong our body will tell us. Intuition is a talent we need to nurture every day.

In todays world, people are used to think in linear, logical, obvious ways about problems and possible solutions. Intuitive intelligence  opens up for new ways to think and understand, and may lead to enhance our capacity to achieve innovative solutions.

Through his book:”The Intuitive Compass”, Francis P. Cholle illustrates how we can develop intuitive intelligence to navigate the natural tension that exists between reason and instinct.

Cholle describes the four tenets of intuitive intelligence: , thinking holistically, thinking paradoxically, noticing the unusual and leading by influence. “ By engaging in each, we can enrich our experience and understanding of personal and business issues that arise, and when we use all four, our capacity for innovation can grow tremendously”.

If we want to succeed in todays business world, leaders need to innovate, be open to embrace change and create new business approaches. Cholle; “Creativity is not linear. To get to what is new and revelatory, we have to tap into the wisdom of our subconscious, be present, pay attention to clues, and then react”.

The author makes us aware the need to feel and listen to what the body try to tell us based on our instinct, reason and playfulness.

Let us take a closer look on how Cholle describes the four tenets of intuitive intelligence.

Thinking holistically can lead us to gain new perspectives and gives us the opportunity to learn new things from this approach. “Holistic means that the totality of a system is more important then the sum of its parts”.

Thinking paradoxically, leads us to think out of the box by embracing new situations, and new ideas, the attitude is both open and critical, as candid as it is discriminating, which is the only way to enter uncharted territories and conceptualize new ideas. Cholle;”So we need to open our minds to the paradoxical logic of the unconscious to reach beyond common ideas and beliefs, which is exactly the meaning of the word paradox”.

Instead of using our logical understanding of a situation it requires our other form of intelligence at work, like insights from dreams or myths.

Noticing the unusual is the third tenet and includes paying attention and use our senses. Cholle explains; “We can pay attention outwardly by seeing what’s around us or we can pay attention inwardly by feeling what’s inside us. We can choose to receive information in two ways, one of them is what makes logical sense, the other one is paying attention beyond the logical sense of what we can contemplate.

The last and fourth tenet is, leading by influence. This is about letting go of control and instead allow the creative process to blossom. Cholle; “Although conventional wisdom regarding leadership is about aligning objectives, strategies, and people, leadership by  influence recognizes that dissonance and tension, ambiguity and complexity, chaos and the unknown are equally important and necessary aspects of business. This is why this type of leadership cannot seek control: chaos cannot be controlled, and complexity makes it hard to determine the outcome of one’s strategy, so influence is more effective than control”.

Because creativity is an high rated business skill in a complex global economy, a key element of this new way of leadership is mandatory to innovate, motivate, change, reinvent and make an organization successful. Cholle makes us aware that if you want people to be receptive, agile, autonomous, proactive and creative in their approach, you need to influence them more than trying to control them.

Creativity can be a challenge but most of all an important tool to make success in todays world of business.

A research done by neuroscience has revealed three key facts that may trigger and change the way we think about and approach creativity:

– Instinct plays a leading role in complex decision making.

– Eighty percent of our grey matter is dedicated to non conscious  thought.

– Imaginative play is one of the most direct means of activating our creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Cholle explain’s us that these three discoveries opens up opportunities for creativity, progress and efficiency, but it depends up on embracing the instinctual and unconscious aspects of our mind and the randomness and chaos of life.

Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.  Tom Lehrer

This quote makes us aware of all the possibilities people in all kind of situations are capable off doing. It just depends up on how far we would like to go. Play is magical and is a channel for innovation and ideas in organizations.

The National Institute for Play defines play as; “a state of being that is intensely pleasurable. It energizes and enlivens us. It eases our burdens, renews a natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities”.

When using play as a key component in companies, it opens up new doors for positive thinking and creative imagination.

Let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about play and what’s in it. Cholle tells us that the key ingredient in play is engagement; “engagement within your own mind, with another person, or with an object”.

He say that people loose track of time when they are truly and deeply engaged in play. People stop thinking about whether their paycheck is bigger today then yesterday. You also form close and near relationship with your playmates, “they withstand discomfort and inconvenience, and more often than you might imagine, they create magic”.

Because of the importance of play and the positive outcome organizations can gain from it, CEO’s across a range of industries has opened their doors to creativity and see it as a key driver for their company to succeed and grow.

Cholle makes us aware that play enables us to develop our cognitive abilities, and it also gives us balance into our lives: “playing fosters the agility and creativity that are key to our business success”. Play let us discover and enable us to influence the very powerful part of ourselves.

What’s better, a poetic intuition or an intellectual work ? I think they complement each other”   Manuel Puig

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

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








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