Edges of your patience will be pushed (nothing ever moves fast enough).
Edges of your patience will be pushed (nothing ever moves fast enough).
More than ever in the times of rapid change, we need to be self aware, and avoid a situation which could lead us to be passive aggressive. Most of us can recognise it in others, but can we recognise it in ourselves ?
It does not have to be directly manipulative or overtly aggressive, it can be as simple as deliberately associating with a strong group view , knowing that somebody you are “competing” with holds an opposing view, when in fact you don’t hold that view. I have seen this on numerous occasions. Some may see this as taking a fair competitive advantage, but this approach is flawed for a number of reasons. Firstly behaving like this on a regular basis, takes time and energy, and ultimately will have a negative effect on your focus and performance. Secondly the recipient will know what is happening to them. Business and social relationships twist and turn all the time. You never know when you may need that person to help you. Collaboration an non judgement are always the best strategy.
With all the current global political turmoil, we need to be very measured with our debates. This does not mean that we hang back with our opinions that support our beliefs or principles, but think of the others around you.
Sometimes coaching is perceived as purely facilitation. Facilitation is a key element of the coaching process, as the key purpose of coaching is not to “direct” but guide the coachee, to raise awareness in such a way that they can help themselves. If you have specific knowledge or experience of the coachee’s challenge that can help or hinder. It can help with insights and intuition, however it can also turn a coaching session into a consulting session. Although certain coaches do both, it is important that the boundaries between coaching and consulting are not fuzzied. It is important that the coaching line is not crossed in a coaching session, as the coach can take the coachee down the wrong road, and incorrect assumptions and hypotheses made. This capability can block coaching avenues.
As the world enters into the VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) state headlong, more than ever we need to stay focussed and resolute. There is unprecedented change, and we need to be in a place to cope with it. We need to stay true to our principles and be authentic. Meditation and being mindful can help considerably. We need to listen to what is going around us, but not be overly distracted.
I read an interesting article in the “Body & Soul” section of The Times. The main thread was about staying healthy while working out a desks. We are all aware of the dangers of a sedentary life with lack of excercise. However this goes into a lot more depth on the effects for just sitting for extended periods. I was aware of elements like heart disease, and RSI, but this talks about Type 2 diabetes, obstructed breathing and muscle den generation. There is a new book out called Deskbound Dr Kelly Starret. This resonated with me as someone who spends considerable time at my desk, when not out with clients. I will be spending a lot more time moving about, completing the ergonomic assessment.
You will need to be caring and confrontational; guiding and directive
I was pleased to see an interesting article in The Time weekend about a new initiative called Reverse Mentoring. A number of large city firms and consultancies have started to get younger staff to mentor more senior leaders. Initially it was designed to tackle sexism, but has wide ranging benefits to improve business culture. The companies are encouraging women to come forward and act as mentors. These sort of initiatives will start to challenge some paradigms that older people always “know” more, and that older people can’t learn from younger people. This can only have a positive effect, improve collaboration and teamwork. For this to work effectively, it will takes some proper communication and alignment, in order not to undermine either party.
More balance in the work place with respect to all aspects, will improve energy and performance. This not just about sexual and age diversity, but diversity of thinking.
I was reading an interesting article in The Times a couple of weeks ago about Kelly Hoppen, the self styled and successful interior design guru and business woman. Kelly was talking about her career, and what is important to her in her life. She went on to talk about the importance of positive energy, and the need for things to be just being right for her. There was quite an amusing story around her making her husband wait in hotel receptions with the bags on business and leisure trips, as she inspected the allocated rooms before moving in. To her, it was important to have the correct “energy” in the room for things to be right. She had quite often moved rooms numerous times during her stays. Is this just being overly fastidious, or having the appropriate level of perfection ? She admitted that she was a perfectionist. Top people perform at the top level and there is a reason why this is so. The correct attention to detail on the appropriate elements of work is critical. Although not explicitly mentioned in the article, I would not imagine an overly analytical approach when choosing the room, but a lot of experience and intuition in the decision making process. There is an expression widely used in the UK, “If it does not feel right, it generally isn’t right” .This is where energy and intuition work together in a synergistic to get to the right result quickly. This does not substitute the need for analysis, but quite often and in the right environment, it will help us make appropriate decisions quickly.
Good coaches rely heavily on their intuition, and are able to read the energy whether it be positive or negative. This is a powerful skill, which can enable the coach to move a client forward quickly. In IPEC we use the ELI or Energy leadership Index assessment as a means of facilitating clients to move to their goals quicker. Understanding “Energy” also helps self-awareness a key element of moving forward in all sorts of business and personal situations.
You start seeing everything through different eyes
Easier said than done in a fast moving world, but a critical element to survival in business. Stress, pressure of work delivery, can all erode your energy levels. This can become a downward spiral, because low energy will effect performance. I know this first hand from my consultancy experience, where the pressure to deliver results in a very short span of time is immense. When you are doing rapid assessments the days can range from 12-18 hours. These sort of days have become the norm in some arenas, so how do we cope?
Firstly, we have to stay connected to the people around us, and what we are doing. In coaching parlance, we call it being “Present”. It is very easy to drift away, from the core of what we are doing, given the pressure of work and the desire to multi-task in order to deliver what we believe to be more. This is where we sacrifice quality for quantity, and this is not sustainable. We can look at these additional activities as “Energy” detractors too. Staying focussed on the core activity, will actually keep our energy levels up, and significantly increase our chance of success. It is possible to achieve this through increasing our self awareness, and being our inner coach. I have to admit I don’t practice meditation, but a significant number of very successful business leaders do. I have learned to be self aware in all aspects of life, and in particular critical business meetings . This allows me to stay focussed on the objective. My consequent energy levels are a lot higher, which in turn makes me feel more positive. This is what I call the positive upward spiral of energy. Another key factor is to understand your own sleep patterns. Some people are early risers, some are late risers. Don’t fight your biorhythms , but work with them. This can also have a huge positive impact.
You will constantly be revisiting your own values
I was moved to write this after an article in The Times yesterday about Jurgen Klopp the new Liverpool FC Manager. As a life long Liverpool supporter and previous regular at Anfield, I remember the pleasure of the 70’s and 80’s and the pain of the 90’s and noughties. Liverpool fans are fun, hopeful , philosophical and witty in a way that befits all those that come from that great historic city. Managers have ebbed and flowed over the last ten years in the hope that something different will happen, and we get the results that we hope for and deserve. We crave change, but we are also loyal and want some stability. Having seen Klopp in his interviews, and read some of the anecdotes about his self deprecating humour, confident humility ,authenticity the club has finally found someone who can drive us forward in the right way. This in no way denigrates the great managerial servants we have had in the past, but I see something different. I see the qualities that are required at all levels of management in sport and in business . Let’s hope that he has the time and stability to build his team and succeed.
You will be truly yourself, only when you know yourself.
It helps to be happy if we want to be positive and focussed. This is easy to say, and some would say even obvious, or counter intuitive. As always, the doing is more difficult than the talking. How do we reach this point of happiness ? It is important to feel our negative feelings, and deal with our sadness. This is not about being in enduring sufferance, but it is about acknowledging pain and grief, and understanding ourselves. It is OK to feel sad, but we need to recognise it. The recognition process is key, because in reality you will have endured something that was difficult. As long as you do this, you will be authentic with your emotions, and feel happier. This will help us increase our levels of anabolic energy, the energy that builds us and drives us.
Avoiding conflict is difficult when you have strong views or opinions. Sales people will tell you that while you are talking you are negotiating. This is important when we are having difficult dialogues, especially when those we are talking to, are likely to have opposing views.
How do we keep these discussions “Above the Line” and avoid conflict with the person. There is a simple solution, and it may sound obvious. Focus purely on what is being said, and not who is saying it. We can never totally avoid judgement, but judge the dialogue on its merits and not the individual.
We always find this easier to think about rather than actually do. A simple trick is to mentally prepare ourselves, by trying to predict when these potentially difficult situations will arise, and self-trigger around just what is being said. It is about situational awareness. Meditation can help, but there are other techniques based on NLP.
You will struggle between doing what the client needs, and what you need.
I saw an interesting debate on the ICF (International Cocahing Federation) Linked IN group last night, and they posed the question, is EI (Emotional Intelligence) passé . I like to think not, but it seems to be less important on the corporate screen these days. This could be a symptom of the current business turmoil and volatility. Due to the low oil dollar and commodity prices, some companies are having to fight for survival, and may see promoting EI as a luxury. This business pressure inevitably creates a downward force to the base of the Maslow Pyramid, where food, water ,shelter and other essentials are what we focus on. In a business environment, this is about cost cutting, and trimming. This is a good thing, as it makes us leaner and fitter in a difficult environment. However, all this activity will have a negative impact on morale. Sustained periods of employee low morale are never good, and will be a higher detractor from performing well in the upturn. I believe that recognition of EI, promoting it, and using it effectively is more important in times of turmoil. This is how our leaders (informal and formal) can recognise the signs, motivate people appropriately and authentically, and keep the ship sailing in the correct direction.
EI and intuition work hand in hand, and are critical for long term success.
Lean thinking is an approach to life which means you are always challenging “Waste” at all times. In the process or manufacturing world, waste can be identified in a multitude ways, generally in line with the Toyota 8 Wastes. In the coaching world, the analogy is an uncluttered mind leading to high levels of focus. This level of focus drives high performance without stress, or distraction.
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You will find yourself often being alone and feeling marginal.
We all have negative thoughts some time, and these can obviously drag us down. In Energy Leadership Coaching, we call this catabolic energy (I have talked about this before) . Over a long period this can drag us down continually, and create an environment for more negativity. It is almost like a self fulfilling prophecy. If I wake, and see it is raining and makes me miserable, that could set the tone of the day. Our thoughts set our mood and I. Turn our energy levels. If we can start to break patterns of negative thoughts, than this can make us feel overall a lot more positive. However to do this, we need to raise our levels of self awareness and consciousness. If you are muttering to your self, because you are being held up in some way, try to interrupt yourself and have that internal dialogue that says, “This will only be short term” In that way we can start to change the pattern, and avoid the fox hole of continuous negativity. This requires a new way of thinking, and a conscious effort to adopt a different attitude. Effectively we are retiring our brains , in such a way that our “old circuits” that processed the negative thoughts start to disappear. We need to self-trigger when these potentially negative thoughts happen, so the new way of thinking becomes habit. Some people use techniques such as yoga and meditation to raise personal self-awareness. However if this is not your thing, and for some it isn’t, try and make colour or image associations with these events, that can trigger your brain to think a different away. It helps if you can do this in a positive way, such as associating a long queue as a fast flowing river.