I’ve spent decades advising on strategy, strategic frameworks, business growth plans, organisational development, and policy / service improvements. Don’t get me wrong that was really interesting but now I’m much more fascinated by the nature of human existence and how my coachees can make the changes necessary to excel and succeed as leaders, communicators, change agents, team builders, and business dynamos.
The odd thing about us humans is that we are all so connected via our many ‘online devices’ that we sometimes overlook how disconnected we can become from the people with work and live with. I cannot count the times people have talked to me about either their own mental blocks, or an inability to connect, to gain useful feedback, or to communicate what their real needs are, or effectively convey a change agenda, or just to ‘get through’ to another human being – perhaps someone with a very different personality or set of motivations.
And whilst it’s a truism to say that we are each of us unique in that we have particular personality traits, motivations and aspirations – much of which is modulated by our genetic inheritance as well as the experiences of our live journey to date – there is all to play for in developing what Dr Martin Luther King Jnr once called “the content of our character”.
So how do you get to grips with developing the content of your character and the skills and abilities to truly connect with others at work or in your life? And why would you want to embark on that journey of self-discovery – especially if you’re already very senior and successful?
One of the reasons might be to develop a more sustainable track record, not just lodged in your own achievements but in the success and fulfillment of others in your team(s) or business.
Another reason might be to build the necessary trust in those around you so that you are able to give and receive honest feedback. Being very senior can be a weird place to be if you find that your direct reports are nervous about giving you honest feedback. Some leaders don’t care, but others are wary of working in surreal vacuum knowing that it might mask an uncomfortable truth.
A great check for a leader is to become much more conscious of how success is being attributed. Overt ego-centrism is all about the language of “I-I” and “Me-Me” instead of what management guru Stephen Covey called Success Habit 4, thinking “Win-Win”. By acknowledging team interdependence (the language “Us-Us” and “We-We”) you can help foster improved team relationships and performance by encouraging a sense of challenge, ambition and success shared.
Self-knowledge, self-awareness – necessarily extended into an awareness-of-others – is central to my work as a coach, whether I’m business coaching, career coaching, leadership coaching, or Exec and Board coaching. And whilst this can never be ‘perfect knowledge’ for any of us, it can however provide the key to many locks and also help develop one’s character.
Purely egocentric self-serving introspection it isn’t. As Daniel Golman wrote in an article on LinkedIn, “… some self-reflection or self-knowledge matters, but it should be the right kind. You should have the right focus, which has to do with ‘how am I doing in this role?’ Or ‘What do I need for this role?”’
Neither is it purely about being in touch with one’s own feelings and wants. As someone said to me awhile back “I’m emotionally intelligent, I know exactly what I’m feeling!” completely overlooking the fact that others might experience this as self-serving ego-centrism.
So could developing the content of your character via self-knowledge be the key that opens many locks in human interaction? I think so. But it takes bravery to explore who you really are and the impact you might have on others, and also how to challenge the quality of your own thinking to improve your decision-making.
Once you learn that you can nuance your approach to relationships and to your communications, you become more adept at achieving that more sustainable ‘Win-Win’, ie achieving and sharing more sustainable success through others. Surely the mark of a true leader?
Read this if you’re interested in reading more about the power of ‘changing your mind’ and developing better quality thinking and decision-making. And if any of this resonates with you and your challenges right now, then send me a text on 07760 270 392. I never not reply. Oooohhhh, could be scary – right?