Many intelligent, dedicated professionals practice the time-honored tradition of uninspiring leadership. They don’t do it on purpose, it’s just that they’re used to the “Giving Orders and Controlling People” model of leadership. Uninspiring leadership doesn’t have to be the norm because there are positive alternatives available to anyone who chooses to use them. The first step to shifting your leadership approach is to assess whether you practice uninspiring leadership, that is, behaviors like the following:
- Lack of empathy.
- Getting angry at people.
- Not trusting employees.
- Lacking organization.
- Not delegating.
- Not admitting mistakes.
- Not believing change is possible.
- Adhering to one way of doing things.
- Continuing to do things that don’t work.
- Thinking you have all the answers.
- Resistance to new ideas or approaches.
- Not listening to people.
- Imposing solutions from outside.
- Not asking for or valuing employee input.
- Lack of self-awareness.
If you want to do the things on this list, you’re welcome to and you’ll see results based on your actions. If you’d rather inspire yourself and others, then you’ll do the opposite of these things, for example: If you don’t currently delegate effectively, work on learning how to delegate. Inspiring leadership is about having the self-awareness to let go of the thoughts and behaviors that don’t work and replacing them with new approaches that yield positive results. This gives you the power to choose how you think and behave in the workplace and what kind of leadership style you prefer. What will you do to practice inspiring leadership?
There are many individuals who construct idealized versions of themselves to avoid having to look at how they really think and behave and the results they’re getting. It takes self-awareness to look at yourself, admit that something isn’t working and change direction. Here are some questions to ask yourself to stop fighting the facts and live based on what’s actually going on in your life and what you’re capable of doing:
- What do I do in my life that causes me discomfort?
- What can I do to let go of the things that cause me discomfort?
- What would I change about myself to feel more comfortable?
- What can I do to focus on my own behaviors rather than what other people do?
- What patterns in my life would I change so I could be happier?
- What am I willing to do to move in a positive direction?
- What’s my plan for letting go of the thoughts and behaviors that don’t help me?
- What will I do to be the same person privately and publicly?
- What will I do to live authentically?
No amount of fighting the facts can change the reality of how you behave and the results you get in life. Take some time to answer questions like the ones I’ve suggested here and get to know yourself on a deeper level so you can live authentically and happily. Life is much more rewarding when you live based on the facts and emphasize the wonderful things about you. What will you do to stop fighting the facts?
I talk with a lot of well-meaning leaders and professionals who want to provide leadership, effective communication or team building workshops for their employees. They tell me what their workplaces are like, share a laundry list of difficult challenges and situations and then expect to fix everything in a two-hour workshop. What they may not yet realize is that behavior only changes over time, here are some reasons why:
- People get used to doing things a certain way.
- People fall into habits.
- People like order and predictability.
- People will endure almost anything as long as it’s familiar.
- People are uncomfortable with change.
Leaders who practice self-awareness understand that their thoughts and actions can encourage behavioral change in the workplace or stifle it. Change requires deliberate and continuous effort as well as a move from short-term thinking to long-term education. A single workshop might inspire someone to briefly adjust the way they do things but, for the most part, they’ll revert back to their old behaviors if ongoing support isn’t provided. What will you do to change behavior over time?
Developing self-awareness means moving from living unconsciously to thinking, feeling and behaving intentionally. Countless people live their lives stuck in their comfort zones, repeating behaviors that don’t make them happy and not realizing they have other options. Here are five ideas to help you develop your self-awareness and improve the quality of your life:
- Be willing to look at yourself. You can’t live deliberately if you don’t take a look at and understand who you are as a person. Make it a habit to continuously assess what you do well and what areas need some strengthening.
- Examine your thoughts. Which of your thoughts help you succeed or make you happy? Which ones hold you back or keep you from living authentically? Evaluate how your thinking affects your life, keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.
- Examine your emotions. Learn how to acknowledge and feel all of your emotions, not just the ones you’re comfortable with. Heal and bring closure to challenging issues or past hurts in your life. The more you learn how to feel and appropriately manage your emotions, the healthier and more balanced you’ll be.
- Examine your behaviors. There are things you currently do that yield excellent results and some that keep you from working on your dreams. Keep the behaviors that help you live meaningfully and let go of the ones that lead you off course.
- Be willing to make changes. It’s very difficult to grow in any way if you don’t believe change is possible or vital to your personal development. There is always something you can fine tune so you can become stronger and better able to live a fulfilling life.
Self-awareness matters because, when you understand yourself deeply, you’re able to live consciously instead of haphazardly. It’s the difference between stumbling through life repeating the same patterns and creating your own destiny. What will you do to keep developing your self-awareness?
Genuine team building goes beyond the occasional bonding activity or retreat to establishing a culture that encourages and rewards collaboration and teaches everyone in your workplace how to build and participate in cohesive teams. Here are five ideas to keep in mind as you begin creating a culture of team building in your organization:
- Team building flows from the top. Leaders who practice self-awareness set a positive example of how to behave in the workplace. They show employees the organization is genuinely interested in building healthy teams by actively setting up and participating in an ongoing program.
- Team building is a company value. You get to choose what your organization values and what it doesn’t and whether people in the organization work against each other or collaborate. You decide what behaviors are acceptable and encouraged in your workplace.
- Train the trainer. Set aside the time and resources to train people at all levels of the organizations who then train their particular departments until all employees have the knowledge to practice effective team building.
- Schedule regular time for team building activities. You show your employees that team building is a priority by establishing a weekly stand-alone activity that doesn’t have to share space with other meetings and is attended by people at all levels.
- Team building is about celebrating your employees. Design team building activities where leaders and employees can connect on a deeper level, build meaningful relationships and praise each other in public.
As a leader, you decide what kind of work environment you create and whether you commit long-term to making it easier for your employees to come together and work collaboratively. What will you do to support a culture of team building in your organization?
There are countless smart, well-intentioned people in leadership positions who limit their organization’s success without even knowing it because they behave in ways that hinder growth and progress. What they may not yet realize is that leaders can consciously choose to behave in ways that increase success rather than impede it, let’s look at some examples of both approaches:
Behaviors that Limit Success
Need to control everything and project authority.
Only one vision.
Resistance to change.
Inability to listen.
Behaviors that Increase Success
Let go of the need for power and control.
Entertain new ideas.
See things from more than one perspective.
Be willing to change.
Listen to people actively and often.
Work on being a secure, balanced individual.
A big part of self-awareness is understanding how your behaviors impact how you and your employees function. Even if your organization is already highly successful, you can practice positive behaviors to make things run even more smoothly. It all starts with being willing to evaluate your own leadership behaviors. What will you do to lead in a way that encourages success?
Being happy isn’t some unattainable abstract concept, you can consciously work on it until it becomes an integral part of your personal development. The challenge for many people is to look at the things that keep them from feeling joy and replace them with new ways of thinking and behaving that help them move in a positive direction. Here are fifteen characteristics of genuinely happy people:
- Absence of irrational or excessive fear.
- Integration of different parts of their minds.
- Ability to behave with empathy and compassion.
- Help themselves and others succeed.
- Balance and integration between personal and professional lives.
- Laugh often and enjoy the lighter side of life.
- Able to consider more than one perspective.
- Welcome change.
- Continually build self-awareness.
- Behave joyfully and consistently in all areas of their lives.
- Work every day on being happy.
- Understand that happiness doesn’t mean endless pleasure.
- Actively work on healing their own hurts.
- Find meaning inside themselves.
- Live a life that reflects who they really are deep inside.
If you practice thinking and behaving in these ways you know the sense of deep balance and fulfillment they bring. If you don’t, then you have an amazing opportunity to begin working on whichever area needs attention in your life. Being happy isn’t about what you say or how you appear on the outside, it’s about your actual thoughts, emotions and behaviors. What will you do to be genuinely happy?