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Lead Myself

Leading Myself

“Roughly 50-70% of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person: the leader. More than anyone else, the boss creates the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to work well.” Primal Leadership; Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee

Wow, that’s a heavy responsibility. As Shakespeare so succinctly stated:

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” – William Shakespeare

You and I, as the leaders in our organizations, significantly influence how people feel about their job. Committed to achieving great results or satisfied with meeting minimum expectations? Sense of team and camaraderie or every man for himself? A fan/cheerleader for your organization or bad-mouthing you behind closed doors?

Leadership Presence.

I create the tone or climate around me simply by how I show up each day. Before I’ve said or done a thing, my presence alone communicates to others. My facial expressions, body language, pace at which I walk & speak, my attitude and the energy or “vibe” I carry into the room with me. It’s all information for those around me. And they will respond accordingly…

Imagine this…
It’s the beginning of the day and I’m sitting at my desk. A colleague comes by to say hello, and looks like he wants to chat. I stop what I’m doing, turn and face him squarely, and return his greeting.
IMG_9243What adjectives would you use to describe what you see or experience from me? When I do this demo in my live workshops, I often hear adjectives like: welcoming, genuine, warm, open.

Now imagine this…
It’s the beginning of the day and I’m sitting at my desk. A colleague comes by to say hello, and looks like he wants to chat. I pause what I’m doing, turn towards him with one hand still on my keyboard, and offer a quick “Hi.”

IMG_9250What adjectives would you use to describe what you see or experience from me here? At live workshops, this time I often hear: busy, stressed, better not bother you, focused.

All I’ve done is say hello (in one way or another) and we’ve got several different perceptions about me. And from each person’s perception flows assumptions, judgments and conclusions. Conclusions about how he or she will choose to interact with me today: how open or forthcoming she will decide to be about that project status, whether or not he will come to me for the support he needs, and what kind of grumbling or praising will be said about me over lunch.

I am the one who created the conditions for the environment and relationships I now find myself in.


So how can I do my best to ensure that the climate or tone around me happens ‘by design’, rather than by default?

Leadership Rule #1: The most important person I lead is myself.

Emotional Intelligence is all about being aware of MYSELF; and using my self-awareness to manage myself. Managing my thoughts, mood, body language, and behavior in order to intentionally influence what is happening around me. To ‘move others’ in a way that sends them in the direction I want and need them to go.

We know that we reap what we sow, right? Below are three self-reflective truths of a wise leader, that help us look carefully at our sowing and reaping:

  1. When reaping something in our team or organization that is unhelpful or undesirable, the wise leader looks first at SELF.
  2. The wise leader has the humility to recognize that he or she is somehow creating, contributing to, or at the very least, allowing the undesirables circumstances to manifest.
  3.  The wise leader asks him/herself questions to explore his/her role in what’s being reaped:
    • How have I been showing up? What’s the tone I’ve been setting through my presence?
    • What am I doing or saying that may be contributing to the undesirable circumstances?
    • What do I want MORE OF now (i.e.: collaboration, ownership/responsibility, positive attitudes)?
    • How will I intentionally BE in order to lead the way in creating more of what’s desired? (i.e.: how will I BE more collaborative; how will I BE more responsible; how will I BE more positive).

This is not to say that the leader does not also expect others to behave in more desirable ways.

Of course we do. And, in order to successfully reap what we want more of from others, we must first sow the seeds by modeling the way. As wise leaders, we are super intentional about our OWN thoughts, words, and behavior, ensuring that we are in 100% alignment with the expectations we have of others.

Exercise – My Leadership Presence

I’ve recorded a 9-minute audio visualization that will help you think about and envision your desired leadership presence. Download the audio file here. Download the accompanying worksheet here.

  • I suggest listening to the audio all the way through once WITHOUT the worksheet. Give yourself a 9-minute space to simply sit back, close your eyes, and envision the various aspects of leadership that the audio file walks you through.
  • Then get out your worksheet. Listen through the audio file a second time (if desired) to help you reflect on the worksheet questions.
  • The worksheet concludes by having you create a couple of “I am …” statements about your leadership. For example, “I am a clear communicator” Or “I am curious about others’ needs.” Choose one of your “I am” statements to be intentional about this week. Perhaps you want to work on your listening, or attentiveness, or balance of asking vs. telling. Whatever it is, choose the I am statement that affirms and reminds you of your intention. Begin each day, each meeting, each interaction by telling yourself, “I am listening fully” or “I am attentive to the needs of others” or whatever is true for you. By consistently acknowledging and affirming the behaviors I desire to exhibit more of, I am telling my brain that this is the way it is. My brain responds accordingly by creating the neural connections to support my affirmation. The net effect is that, over time, the desired behaviors become habits.

All good wishes,
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De Yarrison

De is a certified professional Coach, Teambuilder and Facilitator of positive change. She is an adventurer in the world of relationships, blazing new trails of positive expression, resulting in happier leaders, employees, workplaces (and families).
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