Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beyond Self Awareness: Leadership’s Next Frontier

Guest post from Glain Roberts-McCabe:

This year, I published my first book. When I was trying to think of a book title, I reached out to our community of ambitious leaders for advice.
As I polled them with ideas (100 Ways to Bullet Proof Your Career, The No Bullshit Guide to Getting Ahead, Leadership Truths from the Trenches), the one that become the hands down winner was the one that I threw out as a joke: Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?!

Maybe I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. We are, after all, in a work world where we’re pulling terms from the US military to describe the levels of disruption we’re all feeling. VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) has gone mainstream.
Many of us feel like we’re going into battle each day. As leaders, we’re often simply trying to survive and make it to the next round of the fight.

No wonder we lose sight of our ‘why’. Work is exhausting. We’ve sped up technology and innovation but remain trapped in models, processes and working norms that were built in the early twentieth century. We are in the Age of Collaboration and yet bound by the Age of Industrialization.
We focus on the acquisition of knowledge and yet ignore how to increase our mind’s capacity to handle all this bombardment of data.

Where we used to think of self-insight and self-awareness as the ‘holy grail’ in leadership development, it is time to move beyond simply ‘knowing’ who we are as leaders to ‘reshaping’ who we are as leaders.
Here are three ways we can expand our individual and collective capacity in order to engage fully in this accelerated world of work.

1. Get Present
There’s a reason why mindfulness has gone mainstream. In a 24/7 world, our brains need some forced downtime. I tell my clients to grab an app (I recommend Headspace), join a program, download a podcast or simply start taking one purposeful breath before entering any room.

Seriously. Breathing alone will be a game changer. Check-in: where’s your breath right now as you read this? Is it shallow and at the top of your chest? Or nice and deep in your belly?

Take a breath. A nice, deep belly breath. Ah...

2. Manage Your Energy
For the past twenty years, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about working to strengths but not enough time thinking about how we manage energy. Given that a strength is the intersection between our capability and our passion, our attention goes easily to cultivating capability but we assume that passion won’t falter.

To manage in a complex, challenging workplace, we need to pay attention to how we keep the energy that fuels our passion buoyant. By taking control of your calendar and putting your ‘big energy boosts’ in first, you increase your odds of maintaining your motivation for the tasks that drain you.

Managing energy is one of the keys to building resilience.
3. Be Intentional

With so much disruption around us, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of our day-to-day leadership. We lose track of our higher purpose (our ‘why’ as Simon Sinek would say) and forget about the impact we can make on those around us. Maya Angelou famously said, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
How easy it is for our strengths to become overused in times of pressure. How quickly we can unintentionally succumb to behaviours that negatively impact those around us.

Leading with intention means stating your intention before the chips are down and the stress levels are high.
I am kind. I am patient. I am generous.

What are your intention statements? Read and repeat them every day, multiple times a day. Watch how your inner dialog changes as this mantra of intention takes hold.
Self-insight for leaders is great. Being self-absorbed with all this self-awareness is not. The future will belong to those leaders with the ability to expand their repertoire and adapt their approach to meet a world that’s accelerating at a pace never seen before.

This is the age of the mind and it’s time we start thinking about how we’re cultivating it.

Glain Roberts-McCabe is Founder of the Roundtable, a place where leaders cultivate their leadership, together through group and team coaching. She is the author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! #leadership truths on how to drive, survive and thrive. The Roundtable was named the top External HR Advisory/Consultancy of the Year in 2016 by the Canadian HR Awards. Visit their website at www.goroundtable.com.

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