Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

guest post By Shelly L. Francis

Leadership is a daily, ongoing practice, a journey toward becoming your best self and inviting others to do the same. And at the heart of this daily practice is courage.

Through more than 120 interviews, I found a pattern of five key ingredients in how leaders have learned to cultivate courage. Three powerful main concepts are true self, trust, and community; the two key practices are paradox and reflection. Here’s a brief overview.

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True Self

Our basic premise is that inside of each person is the essential self who continues to grow and yet somehow, deep down, remains constant. Every person has access to this inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as identity and integrity, inner teacher, heart, inner compass, spirit, or soul. Your true self is a source of guidance and strength that helps you find your way through life’s complexities and challenges. When you begin to listen to and trust the truest part of yourself, your choices and relationships flow from that trust, begetting more trust.

Trust

Courage takes trust—in ourselves and in each other. Trustworthy relationships create the conditions for people to flourish and for positive change to arise. Relational trust is based on our perceptions of personal regard, professional respect, competence, and integrity in other people. Coming to understand the attitudes, assumptions, and biases that lead to such perceptions of trust entails honest inner work. Our collection of principles and practices is a time-tested approach for facilitating inner work and cultivating relational trust.

Community

Becoming more self-aware and trustworthy requires both individual introspection and a supportive community. We offer a specialized meaning of community as “solitude’s alone together” as well as a “community of inquiry.” Our practices offer models for how to reflect and interact with each other so that new clarity and courage can emerge.

Being receptive to the very idea of needing other people in community takes courage and yet, in turn, creates resilience. Leaders must know how to invite people into and hold them accountable for co creating trustworthy space so that they can support each other in service of their work together. Achieving effective collaboration requires genuine trustworthy community.

Paradox

We can learn to practice paradox by recognizing that the polarities that come with being human (life and death, love and loss) are “both-ands” rather than “either-ors.” We can learn to let those tensions hold us in ways that stretch our hearts and minds open to new insights and possibilities. With paradox we honor both the voice of the individual and our collective intelligence. We trust both our intellects and the knowledge that comes through our bodies, intuitions, and emotions. Paradox values both speaking and listening. An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives, helping us hold greater complexity. Integrating our inner lives with our work in the world comes from daily practice in holding paradox.

Reflection

Refection cultivates more ways of knowing and learning that complement your mind and emotions, but draw from a deeper place: your intuition, imagination, and innermost being. Reflection is a practice that can be enriched by the mirroring of trust- worthy companions.

When we reflect together, such as by exploring how universal stories of human experience intersect with the personal stories of our lives, it can create relational trust. Guided conversations focused on a poem, a teaching story, a piece of music, or a work of art—drawn from diverse cultures and wisdom traditions—invite us to reflect on the big questions of our lives, allowing each person to explore them in his or her own way. Reflection helps us find the inner ground on which we stand firm, and it helps us find common ground with others.

If we are willing to embrace the challengeof becoming whole, we cannot embrace it all alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.”

—Parker J. Palmer

 

About Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

Is My Feedback Motivating? (part. 1)

Is My Feedback Motivating?

Guest post by Susan Fowler

Does giving feedback cause you to toss and turn at night, procrastinate on delivering it, disappoint you when it doesn’t make a difference, or frustrate you because it instigates an argument? No matter what your role, you are probably in a position multiple times a day to give people feedback about their past or current behavior—with the hope of motivating their future behavior. If providing feedback is part of your job or something you do in your personal life almost daily, why can it be so challenging?

I hope you discover answers and useful information in this three-part series on how to deliver effective feedback drawing on the science of motivation. Maybe it will help you overcome your insomnia, procrastination, disappointment, or frustration—at least when it comes to feedback!

Realize that feedback is always motivating, but not necessarily as you intended.

Consider two examples of typical feedback:

“Sara, I am proud of you for getting this report done ahead of time. It makes my life so much easier. I hope you can continue to be this timely with deadlines in the future.”

“Sara, I am disappointed in you for being late with this report. It made life difficult not just for me—but for others, too. I need you to get these reports in on time in the future.”

Both statements are examples of personalized feedback—information steeped with your judgment. Both are risky.

The first example, praising Sara for her work, risks having Sara embrace the feedback for the wrong reason—to please you. The second example, expressing disappointment in Sara, may prompt her to change her behavior in the future, but also for the wrong reason—to avoid guilt, shame, or fear of not meeting your expectations. In both cases, you risk Sara developing an external need for your praise. Without your ongoing validation, research shows Sara may stop submitting reports on time since her reason for doing it, her reward for acting, has been removed.

Personalized feedback includes evaluative phrases such as …

  • I am so proud of you.
  • You make me happy when…
  • You are amazing (wonderful, terrific, the bomb).
  • I don’t know what I’d do without you.
  • You sure didn’t disappoint me when you…
  • You suck (failed, screwed up)
  • You disappointed me when…
  • I am so disappointed in you.

Remember why you provide feedback in the first place: to develop an individual’s competence and commitment on a meaningful goal and to facilitate high-quality, sustained performance. Giving personalized feedback puts these outcomes at risk.

There is real science behind effective feedback.

Neuroscience demonstrates how praising stimulates the reward-center of our brain. Motivation science has well documented the eroding effect of tangible rewards on productivity, creativity, innovation, and sustained effort. Intangible rewards, such as praising, tie to people’s need for status, power, and image, and have the same eroding effect.

In the second example above, pointing out a person’s unacceptable behavior by cloaking it in your disappointment can lead to an imposed motivational outlook. Motivation science has shown that people working from this sub-optimal outlook to avoid feelings of guilt, shame, or fear, are more prone to emotional and physical stress—and as a result, are less creative in the short term and less productive in the long term.

Ironically, your well-intentioned praise or expression of disappointment is likely to erode people’s sense of autonomy. They may become more dependent on your opinion of their effort, outcomes, and self-worth than on their own judgment.

If Sara finds value or joy in preparing reports and delivering them on time, what is the purpose of praising her? She might even question why you feel the need to praise her, finding it irritating, inauthentic, or manipulative. But, the biggest risk is that your praise could cause her to shift her attention from her real—and optimal—reasons to perform to sub-optimal reasons: to please you or avoid disappointing you.

Don’t confuse personalized feedback with expressions of gratitude.

Personalized feedback is risky, but you should never shy away from genuinely expressing your thanks. Communicating your gratitude is powerful.

“Sara, I’d like to express my gratitude for the effort you made on these reports. Getting them in earlier than the deadline gave me the ability to focus on something else that was creating a lot of stress. Thank you.”

What is the difference between expressing gratitude and giving personalized feedback? Intention. Your expression of gratitude is not intended to change or reinforce people’s future behavior. Your statement of thanks is not an attempt to develop their competence or sense of responsibility—nor are you looking for a guarantee they will keep up their efforts in the future. When you express gratitude, it is based on your need, not theirs.

Your gratitude, delivered candidly and authentically, without ulterior motives or expectations of future behavior, gives people the choice to continue acting wisely, deepens their sense of contribution and connection, and validates their competence.

Your feedback motivates.

Remember, your feedback is always motivating. The question is whether your feedback is more likely to generate optimal or sub-optimal motivation. If people are optimally motivated, through their values, sense of purpose, or an inherent motivation to perform above expected standards, they don’t need your praise. If they need corrective feedback, your disapproval will usually result in sub-optimal motivation. The science of motivation provides alternatives. In part two of this series, we explore a type of feedback more apt to generate optimal motivation. Find part three here.

*****

Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains WHY MOTIVATING PEOPLE DOESN’T WORK… AND WHAT DOES: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more resources, including a free Motivational Outlook Assessment with immediate results, visit www.susanfowler.com

feedback

This Feedback Could Change Your Life!

My Love of Feedback

I published a piece on my love of feedback several months ago and I am back to introduce another method of delivering feedback that works exponentially well.

With all the talk about eliminating performance management processes, it’s imperative to have something else, a process, to provide feedback in place.  This is so employees know how they are doing, to repeat productive behaviors or eliminate counter-productive behavior.

Imagine for a Moment

Imagine for a moment that you recently gave some feedback to a team member. You told her that her meeting agendas looked great, but she needed to significantly improve her presentation and meeting management skills.

It’s time to follow up a few weeks later to find out why she hasn’t made the changes needed to be more effective in the areas mentioned. In your follow-up, you discover that she didn’t understand what she could do to improve and that your feedback generated more questions than the benevolent help to intended. She was left thinking “What’s good about my agendas that I can leverage again?” and “What’s wrong with my presentation skills?” and “How did I mismanage the meeting?”

Developed by The Center for Creative Leadership, the Situation – Behavior – Impact (SBI) Feedback tool outlines a simple structure that you can use to deliver more effective feedback. It focuses your comments on specific situations and behaviors, and then outlines the impact that these behaviors have on others.

[Effective] Feedback is a focused dialogue between a manager and an employee, a method of sharing information and perspectives about performance. The goal of ongoing feedback is to identify where performance is effective and where performance needs improvement.

Effective feedback helps the receiver understand exactly what he or she did and what impact it had on you and others. When the information is specific, yet without interpretation, judgement, or evaluation, there is a better chance that the person hearing the  feedback will be motivated to begin, continue, or stop behaviors that affect performance.

Situation – Behavior – Impact

The Situation – Behavior – Impact technique of giving feedback is simple and contains three elements:

SITUATION: Anchors feedback in time, place, and circumstances and helps receiver remember and/or understand the context.

BEHAVIOR: Observable actions that can be recorded (audio or video) and allows feedback receiver to know exactly what he or she did that had impact.

IMPACT: Feelings and thoughts the feedback giver had, and how the feedback giver or others behaved as a result of the feedback receiver’s behavior.

In an organizational and work context, the impact of the behavior can include work outcomes, client satisfaction, work team, and/or the larger organization and business. It can also include the impact on the individual who demonstrated the behavior; in essence, the consequences or result of their behavior on their reputation, perceived professionalism, capability, etc.

Most often, a description of the impact will start with, “I felt …” or, “I was” or, “It appeared to me others were … “.  If you find yourself saying, “you were … “, you’re probably on the wrong track. An impact statement is not an interpretation of why the individual showed that behavior, and it is especially important not to label the behavior in a psychological way or to make a judgment about the person.

SO, before you jump on the bandwagon and eliminate your performance management process, contact us to help you and your employees give each other more effective feedback.  Getting this process in place first will help you make sure you make the right decision in the long term.

Who Are We

EDGE Business Management Consulting, a Network Partner with the Center for Creative Leadership, is a Human Capital Consulting firm, focusing on three primary areas to help you achieve exponential growth.  We can serve you in many ways, however our focus is in the areas of Talent Management, Organizational Development, and Leadership Development.

For immediate inquiries, contact Dan Freschi at (414) 301-3343 or email dan@edgebmc.com, and visit our website at www.edgebmc.com.

Learn to Love the Process not the Result

Learn to Love the Process not the Result

Learn to Love the Process not the Result

Over a long weekend, watching my son and his team experience the highs and lows of competitive baseball, I had a very cathartic conversation with one of his baseball coaches over a 2-hour wait until they played again.  We talked about baseball, the military, and everything in between.  One thing he said to me I’ve known for as long as I can remember, but this time it really struck me and has been rattling around in my head.  As we were talking about baseball, he said “you have to learn to love the process and not the result”.

Some context.  This particular coach on my son’s team was drafted by the Brewers in the mid 90s and unfortunately never made out of the college ranks.  He received high level coaching and advice from a young age through his early twenties about how to play baseball at a highly competitive level.  And now he is the head coach for his older son’s team and an assistant coach for his younger son’s teams of which my son is member, imparting his knowledge and wisdom, developing these boys into young men.

Through the course of our conversation I could not help but think about the correlation to and lessons for developing leaders, whether aspiring or seasoned, the message was the same.

The process of developing the skills to play baseball is a paradox, it’s simple yet complex.  Throw the ball catch the ball, see the ball hit the ball, simple, yet it’s important to have the right arm angle and body posture all in sync to throw a 96 mph strike or hit to the opposite field, complex.

Developing the skills to play baseball is much like developing the skills to be an effective leader.  Simple, from the perspective that a leader has a title now and tells others what to do and they do it, but complex from the perspective that the leader needs to understand how to emotionally connect with each one of his or her direct reports and engage them on an individual basis to motivate them to want to do something on their own accord.  The first perspective represents a result.  You have a title and now tell people what to do.  While the latter perspective represents the process.  The process of learning about self, learning about others, and learning about the context in which one is leading.

As one develops into a successful and effective baseball player, you have to practice, change, try something new, fail, practice again, fail again, try again, and practice some more until you get into a rhythm where you can deliver results consistently (yet, a career .300 batting average might be HOF worthy).

To me, this looks like the same process a mentally tough, emotionally strong, ego-in-check, leader would follow to develop their leadership skills.  While it is true some are born predisposed to be great athletes, the same is true for leaders, however, the process remains the same, simple, yet complex.  Add or expand to the complexity by thinking about a specific position such as a catcher or from a business perspective an overseas assignment.

A leader needs to learn to love the development process not the result.  If a leader can learn to love the process they will likely get an even better result (At EDGE BMC we believe in leveraging the 70-20-10 development process).

You can read a book about baseball, watch a video, but there is nothing quite like going out to a diamond, experiencing baseball for yourself and going through the development process.  Such is the same for leadership, reading the latest NYT bestseller or attending a workshop does not make you a better leader.  You have to actually practice, change, try something new, fail, practice again, fail again, try again, and practice some more until you get into a rhythm where you can deliver results consistently.  Can you succeed your first time out?  Sure you can, but don’t get complacent, cocky, and careless.

As one develops into a successful and effective leader or baseball player, you have to practice, change, try something new, fail, practice again, fail again, try again, and practice some more until you get into a rhythm where you can deliver results consistently.

Think about all the successful people in your life, they’ve ascended to the levels they are at because they learned to love the development process.  They learned that failure is okay as long as it turns into learning and a new beginning requires something else to end.

Whether you are a struggling small business owner, a highly successful athlete, you have to learn to love the process.  The process is going to be hard work in the end, but the pay-off will be much greater, the result will more rewarding when you fall in love with the process.

Process Leads to Results

Chase’s Head Coach on why we do this for our kids:

We do it for the excitement on our kids faces when they win a championship game.  We do it because being part of a team is a valuable lesson. We do it because sometimes we lose and learning to lose gracefully is a valuable lesson.  Lastly we do it because when down 7 runs, and nothing seems to be going right, perseverance, teamwork and determination made our kids successful.  There are few other activities that teach kids these lessons outside of competition.

 

EDGE Business Management Consulting, a Network Partner with the Center for Creative Leadership, is a Human Capital Consulting firm, focusing on three primary areas to help you achieve exponential growth.  We can serve you in many ways, however our focus is in the areas of Talent Management, Organizational Development, and Leadership Development.

For immediate inquiries, contact Dan Freschi at (414) 301-3343 or email dan@edgebmc.com, and visit our website at www.edgebmc.com.

For the Love of Feedback

Those that know me well, know that I am a huge fan of feedback. I love feedback of all kinds and constantly ask for it to get better and make changes to how I approach things, train others, speak, teach, etcetera. My colleagues at a previous employer even called me the Feedback King.

Yellow Card

ROTC Yellow Card – Click to see larger

I believe my love of feedback started when I was developing in ROTC to be an Army Officer. In ROTC we had to complete the Cadet Self-Assessment Reports or yellow cards. These yellow cards were required after every mission and assignment when we were in some form of a leadership role. Yellow cards were a summary of our performance while in the leadership role and was detailed using the well-known STAR model, where we would describe the Situation, assigned Task, the Actions taken, and the Results.

 

Blue Card

ROTC Blue Card – Click to see larger

At the same time the student cadre or leader would complete a blue card called the Leadership Assessment Report. This report was where they rated behavior actually observed and recorded their counseling, and would measure certain attributes, skills, and actions.

We would then meet for a quick counseling session to compare notes and discuss my performance. The discussions focused on things I did well and where I needed to improve, along with actions I planned to take to sustain or change the behavior.

As a cadet and as student cadre I experienced both sides of giving and receiving feedback. This practice, however, did not end with my commissioning. This practice of feedback continued through my time in all my professional military schools. Whether it was at the Infantry School or at the Combined Logistics Captains Career School doing peer evaluations through leading soldiers, teams, and units on active duty with counseling, evaluation reports, and pulse and climate surveys. Feedback was a constant and always encouraged.  I encouraged it despite rank and protocol, as long as it was done respectfully and with the proper intent.

Another powerful means of giving and receiving feedback that I still find extremely valuable today is the After Action Review or AAR.  The Army training circular shares that:

The AAR is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards, that enables soldiers to discover for themselves what happened,why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses. It is a tool leaders and units can use to get maximum benefit from every mission or task.

The AAR in a corporate or professional setting can be executed in the same way, as a structured debrief process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better by the individuals involved and those responsible for the project , event, or situation. 

Take a look at the link provided below for more info on how to conduct an AAR.

You’ve probably already seen these, but here are some tips I’ve learned over the years about feedback:

  • Never, ever give someone harsh, critical, developmental feedback in the presence of others. This can be extremely embarrassing to the person receiving the feedback.  Find the right time and place to pull them aside in private.
  • Only give feedback on the things that you heard someone say or behaviors you saw someone do.  Giving feedback from a 3rd party, on something you did not hear or see can be a slippery slope and deteriorate trust.
  • Make feedback a dialogue.  Avoid making assumptions. Make sure to check your information and biases, giving the benefit of the doubt to the other person.
  • Allow yourself to be emotional.  Deal with your emotions, allow yourself some time to be mad, angry, sad, upset, …., and then comeback and deliver the feedback.  Use that time to also prepare, write down what you want to say, focusing on what the things said or done, and as a result how they made you feel and the outcome.
  • Be specific.  Vague feedback might seem insincere or calculating.  Saying “I don’t remember exactly what you said, but it … ” diminishes its impact severely.
  • Be Timely.  Give feedback, both positive and developmental feedback, immediately but no more than 5 days after it happens.  Don’t put it off as not urgent if it’s good. Don’t avoid it or put it off if it’s not so good.
  • Avoid the feedback sandwich, “you did great, but here’s what you did wrong, but I thought you did great”.  You can give both positive and developmental feedback in the same conversation, however, you have to finish one type of feedback before giving the other.  In other words, get through the STAR for positive or developmental before giving the other.
  • Always ask for feedback, for everything you do.  Asking for feedback as a leader builds a culture that asking for feedback is encouraged and more than likely when you give it will be also be received well.
  • When you ask for it, do something with it.  Change your behavior and/or change your own self-perception.  Asking for it without doing something with it is disrespectful and can lead to a lack of trust.
  • Listen.  Ask questions. Admit your mistakes.  Listen to learn how they perceived your behavior, ask questions for clarification and examples, admit your mistakes.

Delivering feedback is a skill that must be fostered and developed.  Delivering positive feedback is easy, yet too many leaders don’t do a very good job at it.  Developmental feedback is not always easy to deliver, accept it.  Your best bet will be to find someone to rehearse if it’s going to be emotional.

Early in my career I learned the valuable lessons and gifts of feedback.  Feedback can be one of the most powerful tools for anyone to learn how to use.  It might be clunky at first, but It’s never too late.

 

 

References:

ROTC Blue Card

ROTC Yellow Card

TC 25-20: A LEADER’S GUIDE TO AFTER-ACTION REVIEWS


 

EDGE- Where Leadership Begins is a Human Capital Consulting firm, focusing on three primary areas to help you achieve exponential growth.  We can serve you in many ways, however our focus is in the areas of Talent Management, Organizational Development, and Leadership Development.

For more information, visit our website www.whereleadershipbegins.com or contact us at 414-301-3343.

 

Assumptions

A recent situation where I was the target of an assumption has compelled me to write about it.

When I was about 12 years old my father taught me when I assume I make an ass|u|me. Many of you may have seen this before or been taught it by one of the adults in your life. This lesson was one of the many leadership lessons he taught me.

What does it mean to assume in the case of my father’s lesson? My dad’s lesson taught me when I make an assumption (noun) it’s an act of arrogance, pretention, where one takes a fact or statement and thinks it’s true or probably true without knowing that it was true.

In the context of the lesson, I believe he was telling me to become aware of my perceptions, connections, relationships, and preference to the statement/situation and make sure they do not blur, shade, or misguide me from being able to see something from another’s perspective. To give the benefit of the doubt.

Interestingly, an antonym for assumption is humility.

One my core tenants both personally and professionally is to be authentic and transparent. Transparency is built into my business model and is a foundation of how I consult. When exercised and leveraged properly, both transparency and authenticity can build trust.

And, while transparency and authenticity might be exactly what is needed, when someone is dealing with a loss, works in a toxic environment, or has had their trust violated repeatedly (to mention a few), much more care around demonstrating and explaining what one is doing or not doing is absolutely required and necessary.

The good news is that we worked it out through synergistic conversations and feedback, and on the path to rebuilding our relationship.

Assumptions.

References:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assumption

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assume

How Do You Moveo Moti Motum? (Influence)

In case you’re not up on your Latin “Moveo Moti Motum” is Latin for Influence. When searched on Google, Influence garners over 135 million results. So, what really is influence? When Moveo Moti Motum is translated from Latin is literally means to move, arouse, affect, and influence. Using one of my favorite dictionary sites, Influence is defined as

the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen : a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way : the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways

This definition is the same for negative as well as positive influence, both can be equally powerful. The level of influence you have comes from a variety of sources. How much expertise you have, how credible your position and objectives are, how visible you are, and how you align your objectives with the organization all serve to increase your ability to have a positive influence on others.

In the workplace, at home, at school, whenever we are communicating and interacting with other humans, we need to be able accomplish our goals. This need requires a focus on synergy and a savvy influence ability because you may or may not be in a position to exercise pure power or authority in the situation.

And, even if you are in a position of power or authority, consider what Dwight D. Eisenhower the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II says about influencing others:

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

This holds true for everyone, including parents, coaches, neighbors, it’s not just leaders.

So, influence can equal leadership. Renowned author and speaker John C. Maxwell believes:

Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.

If you think about it we rely on influence to get everything we do, done. Whether it is getting approval for spending beyond your budget, placing items onto an agenda for the next executive meeting, or sharing the importance of practice with your kids, your ability to influence matters.

A key component and the first step to improving your ability to influence starts with a thorough understanding of yourself, your interpersonal, presentation, communication and assertiveness abilities. Consider taking one of the best assessments on the market today, Everything DiSC to gauge where you are with your influence abilities. With the market full of DISC type assessments, this is the original and most useful in multiple aspects of life and business.

At the end of the day learning to adapt your personal style when you become aware of the effect you are having on other people, while still being true to yourself is a vital contributor to building your influence ability.

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Consider the following bestselling resources as you seek out developing the “how to” of your influence ability.

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion the 6 Principles that help to get influence over people, Dr. Robert Cialdini shares the results from his deep research about the various strategies held by people to have influence over their peers. The 6 Principles of Influence/Persuasion that Dr. Cialdini share are: Reciprocity, Scarcity/rarity, Commitment & consistency, Consensus/Social proof, Authority, and Liking.

Similarly, in their book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, authors Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson , David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler take us on a journey to discover vital behaviors we want to change, show us how to convince ourselves and others to change minds, and truly master the 6 sources of influence. Those include Personal motivation, Personal ability, Social motivation, Social ability, Structural motivation, and Structural ability.

In the book, Persuasion: The art of influencing people, author James Borg shares that, empathy and sincerity, are the fundamental building blocks for successful persuasion. Empathy is the bedrock of communication – the ability to identify and understand the other person’s feelings, ideas and situation. Sincerity is essential for generating trust. Borg warns that no amount of learning about communication skills without the core virtues of empathy and sincerity will succeed in the longer term.

 

References

Borg, J. (2007). Persuasion: The art of influencing people. Harlow: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.

Patterson, K. (2008). Influencer: The power to change anything. New York: McGraw-Hill.

The Feeling of Authenticity

The feeling of authenticity is unlike any other.  Whether it is you demonstrating authenticity or someone is being completely authentic with you, the feeling is pure and exhilarating.  If we visit my favorite dictionary site again we learn that Authenticity is “real or genuine, not copied or false, true and accurate.”  I cherish the interactions and situations that allow me to be real, genuine, and true to myself. However, the idea of authenticity is as old as the Greek philosophy ‘to thine own self be true’.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” -Mary Sarton

It takes courage to be authentic. It takes courage to get to know yourself. In order to discover authenticity in yourself, it’s important to start with self-awareness, which must stand over and against the influence of pressure (social, work, family, etc.), and stand as a beacon for consistency.

Dr. Stephen Joseph suggests that we have two levels of authenticity.  Our first level he argues is our “outer authenticity – how well what we say and do matches what is really going on inside us”.  I call this your persona, or more simply the mask you wear.  Our second level is our “inner authenticity – how well we actually know ourselves and are aware of our inner states”.  I often refer to this as our character, your most authentic self.

I get it.  I’m not naive to the fact that sometimes we need to put on an act to simply get by, the old adage “fake till you make it”.  However, too many times organizations ask their leaders to be something other then their authentic self; Or realize too late that the leader’s authentic self is inappropriate for the role of leader because the leader thought the organization wanted something different.

“It was as if someone flashed a mirror at me at my absolute worst.
What I saw was horrifying, but it was also a great lesson.”  -Doug Baker Jr., Chairman and CEO, Ecolab

Being authentic matters a great deal to your organization, your employees, and the customers who are served by them. Faking it till you make it as a leader is bad business. For organizations to function effectively, the need for authentic leaders who encourage employees to perform at their best, step up, and experience the feeling of authentic leadership is greater than ever.

Avolio & Gardner (2005) suggest that authentic leadership promotes an environment in the workplace that is consistent and complimentary to that of emotional intelligence, insofar as authentic leaders are deeply aware of who they are, and in tune with their emotions, they inspire authentic feelings of hope, optimism, resiliency, and positive psychological capital in their followers. This environment undoubtedly leads to increased job performance and greater amounts of engagement, job satisfaction, loyalty, and retention of an organization’s employees.

The feeling of authenticity happens when leaders are not driven toward self-serving interests and instead motivated by a goal not about them but about the greater good. Leaders who understand the feeling of authenticity have the self-knowledge to understand their personal gifts and passions and commit to helping manifest and empower others’ gifts and passions to accomplish a shared goal to benefit others.

So how does a leader become more authentic and promote the feeling of authenticity?  Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, offers five dimensions of authentic leaders in his book Authentic Leadership, authentic leaders:

  1. Understand their purpose: This is the reason they move into leadership roles. Authentic leaders have a purpose to make a positive difference in the world by showing others the way and helping them reach their potential.
  2. Practice solid values: These define one’s character and help to build trust with others.
  3. Lead with heart: Demonstrate caring and compassion for others.
  4. Establish connected relationships: This is a basic leadership competency. Great leaders admit they cannot do it alone.
  5. Demonstrate self-discipline: Always adhere to values, which help build trust (the foundation for any relationship).

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” –Mohandas Gandhi

To be an authentic leader, you need to have the courage to get out of your own way, to be self-aware, and accept yourself for who you are. The feeling of authenticity is about being  real and genuine to yourself and to others. By closing the gap of your inner and outer authentic self you help grow trust in what you say and what you do, even when the going gets tough (which it always does) have the courage to stay true to your values.

 

 

Leaders In Waiting

Last week I had the privilege of chaperoning my daughters 6th grade retreat at Camp Minikani a YMCA camp located North West of Milwaukee.  It was the first time I really had the opportunity to observe my daughter with her peer group, outside of sports teams, something I’ve always been curious about.  What I observed was inspiring and qualities I always knew my daughter possessed but again had not experienced with her.

My daughter Claire is among a small group (at least in her grade level) of young leaders in waiting.  While I observed many of her peers’ leadership behaviors, over the course of the two-day retreat, I of course was most interested in how Claire demonstrated the qualities of a great leader.

Even before we arrived, she studied the packing list and was packed and ready to go three days before hand, demonstrating that daily efforts really connect to larger goals.  Once she arrived and determined her group and cabin, she led them through a review of the events over the next few days.

2014-05-08 10.25.47While her peers looked to her for encouragement, direction, and feedback, she never saw herself as their leader, instead she integrated with them and humbly accepted the same from her peers.  Claire knew her peers strengths and weaknesses and helped to leverage them in turn growing their confidence in their own abilities.  This was evidenced during the high-wire walk.  A fellow peer (boy) was terrified to climb the pole and walk across the cable.  Knowing this she demonstrated to him how to do it and then sat down next to him, empathetic, talked to him encouraging him to overcome his fear.  And, he did.  Claire, as do great leaders, saw her peers are people too and while several other of her peers cajoled or laughed she encouraged.

2014-05-08 09.55.01 (2)Next, during the team building activities with her group I observed Claire’s willingness to be accountable and responsible whenever they did something wrong.  Instead of blaming individual team members for stepping on the wrong log or falling in the lava pit (which was clearly evident), she would ask how can we improve as a group.  Taking responsibility for the groups failures demonstrated the leadership ability to put her self interests aside and help the group succeed together rather than separately as individuals.

2014-05-07 16.15.33 (2)Claire continued demonstrating her leadership qualities, even during their free time.  During a game called Ga-Ga Ball, a game she just learned to play from a fellow classmate, took it upon herself to teach other classmates how to play the game.  Great leaders teach others, motivating and inspiring them to be empowered.  Claire could have been immature like many of the girls and boys at this age, but instead confidently stood in the middle of her peers and taught the entire group to play the game.

There are so many other examples of how she demonstrated the qualities of a great leader such as the courage to stand alone, listening, problem solving, patience, this post could go on forever.  However, the wonderful thing about all of this and what I observed was that Claire has never gone through formal leadership development training or classes.  This is in alignment with my belief that we are all leaders in waiting and that we all have leadership qualities inherent to us, we just need the right people to help maximize that potential in our lives.

I don’t take full credit for Claire’s story.  While I am sure she has picked up some things from me, she has a wonderful mother who has been a great leader, teachers who have demonstrated great leadership qualities, sports coaches who have given her tough feedback, and her own faith in God.