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Panning for Gold in a World of Tips and Suggestions

panning for goldWho feels overwhelmed by all of the tips and suggestions out there about how to be more effective in work and in life? Blogs, books, and articles.  100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask! (That’s a lot of questions!). Do This in the Morning and Be Productive All Day!  Webinars. Ted-Ex Talks.

All of these are sources of useful information and they are potentially sources of information fatigue. Too much to do.  Too many tips to remember. Too many ideas to put into action. What am I supposed to really do?  It’s like panning for gold.  Rarely do these sources of information result in an action plan that will bear resilient behavioral change.  Wouldn’t it be great to develop your own personal wisdom around what you need to do?

An article in Forbes magazine (June 2013) titled Why Leadership Training Doesn’t Work , makes essentially the same point. Developing a knowledge base and degree of self-awareness is only the first step.  Behavioral change requires most critically, a plan of action that you help design (mainly to tap into intrinsic motivation) and movement.  It simply can’t stay in your head.  You have to build the new mental-behavioral muscle just like would build a muscle in the gym.  You have to act!  That’s how you really learn!

One of my clients who is an emerging leader in the education industry recently brought this truth to light.  She was part of a leadership program that my partner, Dr. Jane Kise and I use called, Intentional Leadership.  Here is the protocol:

Step 1 (The Awareness Phase): The protocol begins with assessment including determining personality type-to articulate natural strengths and increase awareness around probable inborn blind spots. It also includes an assessment of emotional intelligence-to gauge how the “people skills” of leadership are currently being used.  Another way to describe these skills are interpersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people) and intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations).

Step 2 (Determining Leadership Priorities): Each leadership role calls for a different set of leadership priorities.  Using the ILA card sort, 40 such priorities are reviewed and discussed with the client.  First it’s narrowed to 10/40.  Then 3/40 which forms the basis of the goal setting.  In the coaching conversation, the number can be toggled slightly however, the fewer goals you have, the higher your chances of succeeding with each.  Moreover, the leadership priority might be something that you want to address in one small part of your leadership role, as was the case with my client.

Step 3 (Goal Setting/Follow-Up With a Coach):  The protocol then explores exactly what the client wants to accomplish, determining what strategies, and what in settings this new behavior will be practiced.  An integral part of this process is to look at the self-assessment data.  Will any of these leadership priorities tap into my strengths?  Likewise and even more critically, how will my blind spots factor in?  Could they potentially derail me if I don’t plan for them?

Case Study:

My client, a rising and well-respected leader in the education industry took the MBTI Step II personality assessment and verified as an INFJ.  INFJ’s are introverted, and tend to be brilliant, complex, emotionally self- aware and empathetic.  Yet, they tend not to be naturally assertive.  Indeed, the lowest EQi sub-score for this leader was assertiveness.  She sorted through her leadership priority cards and settled on fair-mindedness and accountability as leadership priorities she wanted to address.  The INFJ type tends to lean toward harmony and avoid conflict but in a complex leadership role, my client recognized that she needed to develop these skills too.

How do you develop these skills though when your natural tendency is to seek harmony.  Do you change and become a different person?  Absolutely not!  Being able to achieve harmony in group is a gift.  Keep that in your back pocket!  And intentionally develop the other complimentary skill, that of assertiveness, to use as needed.   Ultimately, this leader made the goal to practice assertiveness in one setting.  She was on an advisory committee that met once per week.  This would be where she would start. The best part is that a specific, mindful, practice of a new skill has a way of making that skill stick- thus making it a go to possibility when a different situation called for it’s use!

My client reported to me that her goal was exactly what she needed.  She was able to practice her new skill carefully and feel successful doing it because she was giving it special focus in a specific situation.  Further follow-up found that she was getting used to using this new skill in other situations:

“At first it was difficult to speak up when I wanted the meeting to go in a different direction. I did realize that it’s ok because it’s not my usual style but one that I was motivated to develop when I needed it.”

I am the biggest Twitter feed addict on the planet. My morning always involves a scroll through Twitter to catch up on the news and read various new articles on the brain, leadership, business tips and trends.  I can also say that there are so many suggestions that it is impossible to rely on information alone to craft your life and career.  You really do have to give it some thought, clarify your intentions, and set a few reachable goals at a time.

For more information on the Intentional Leadership Protocol.  Click here

For more information on my partner, Dr. Jane Kise.  Click here

 

 

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