So here we are, heading into a new year – let's set boundaries to ensure we get the most out of 2020!
What are you choosing?
How exciting that we have the choice to make this year whatever we want it to be. Like writing a new chapter in a book, you choose the settings, the themes and the characters. The choices are all yours.
Hopefully you have had some time to recharge and reset for the year ahead. It’s amazing what even a quick break can do as far as reflecting on what was and contemplating what will be.
For the last six months I have been coaching and mentoring a senior HR manager in engineering. She is amazing at what she does, passionate, knowledgeable and has a bursting mindset to grow and further develop. What she was noticing though, was her motivation to kick off each week was lagging and this was unusual for her.
We explored this together throughout a session and my question to her was, “What has changed?”. This is still one of the most powerful coaching questions as it helps identify the actual moment things became different and what lurks behind that, the reason.
We discovered that as her team had rapidly expanded in May this year, she had changed what she usually did on a Monday which was to meet suppliers, external stakeholders and clients and was now always office bound at the start of each week.
Knowing this we identified that being out in the coalface, building relationships, nurturing and working with key stakeholders was a large part of what got Anna motivated. Satisfying these motivators is what gives her a “pep in her step” and too often we may know what lights us up but we simply mange this, not satisfy it.
Anna and I mapped out a plan to tackle this which was to simply have Monday out in the field where possible so she could kick off the week with what energises her the most.
Over the last 6 weeks Anna has noted how much better she feels starting the week off with what deeply motivates her. This sets the tone for the week ahead and amplifies a positive mindset, productivity and happiness.
Worth thinking about what lights you up the most in your role and how you can bring this in at the start of your week, whatever day that might be.
What is that you love the most in your role/business?
This will be what gives you the most excitement, energy and usually feels easy.
How will you incorporate this into your role and at a time that you find most motivating?
Be a realist but also remember you can control more than you think by simply planning, setting boundaries and resetting these regularly.
What is different in the way you feel and act?
When doing what lights you up you will feel energised and in flow.
Remember, when we are energised and doing what is congruent to our whole self at work we can’t but help be lit up and on purpose.
Lead to be limitless…
If this article has resonated with you in any way – I’d love to hear your thoughts – get in touch. Being in service to my clients is why I do what I do and your feedback, insight and any suggestions are always embraced.
Find out where you sit on the Leadership Ladder, your responses are anonymous and the results summarised to help us better understand where our market sits, so that we can continue to provide, insights, tools and solutions to assist you move up to be LIMITLESS, co-creative and stand out.
“It’s good to be aware that your strengths and the things that motivate you—your energisers—can become your weakness. The things that motivate you, energise you and light you up can also be to your detriment if you overuse them or use them in overdrive.”
It’s good to be aware that your strengths and the things that motivate you—your energisers—can become your weakness. The things that motivate you, energise you and light you up can also be to your detriment if you overuse them or use them in overdrive. It is similar with strengths; the things you are strong at can sometimes be overused because you are good at them and enjoy doing them. This can occur quite easily, as you may not be aware how often you are doing these things. As they naturally motivate you, you may do them at a subconscious level.
We have both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators
Let's start off by having a look at extrinsic motivation. This type of motivation occurs where the motivational factors are external to us. Our actions here are performed as a means to an end and this is usually valued more than the actual activity itself. An example of this could be exceeding a sales or business target to receive a monetary incentive or an award on stage. Intrinsic motivation is a different case, as the motivating factors emanate from within us and are determined by the way we feel about what we are doing. If working on achieving a business target or incentive, a person may feel they are gaining personal satisfaction, excitement and having fun. These are examples that the person, in this case, is experiencing intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can have the greatest potential to create an ongoing behaviour of activity and adherence.
Social psychologists have long identified that a sense of ownership is crucial for people to feel intrinsically motivated.
When an individual experiences development combined with a sense of autonomy over the actual process of development, they will feel an increased boost in their motivation to progress.
Motivation in overdrive
Let’s have a closer look at motivation in overdrive. One of my key motivators, or the things that energise me, is optimism, which means I am highly motivated by being in a work environment where having a positive outlook and being able to remain optimistic is accepted. I can easily stay positive and outcome focused at the most challenging times. A defining moment that displayed this for me was when I was going for my first real job in a global company in my early twenties. I got through five of six grueling stages and it was down to myself and one other candidate to present at a final assessment centre at 9 am on a Tuesday morning. I had put hours into my marketing presentation and rehearsed it to the hilt. I had organised a lift from one of my best friends into the city for the Tuesday morning, had practised my presentation and had even lashed out on yet another outfit, all in the hope to secure the job.
On the Monday night, I received an unexpected phone call. I was actually out watching a movie when I got the call from my Mum saying I needed to come home and that something had happened. I will never forget that drive, with my now husband, whom I had only just met. I went into autopilot; I was determined to get home and find out what had happened. I arrived at my Mum and stepdad’s house, where I was living at the time. Mum opened the door puffy-eyed and in tears. My whole world stood still in that moment. I was shocked to hear Dad was unwell. He was in hospital. We got back in the car and sped to the hospital and in a blur of uncertainty and tears, we ran into emergency. My Dad, who I was very close to—had just passed away. I was horrified, devastated and overwhelmed with such a sudden loss. Although he had just passed on, I got to hold his hand and say goodbye. It was the most surreal experience of my life. Holding his warm hand that I kissed a million times as the nurse held me up, I said an emotional goodbye with little feeling of closure and comprehension of what just happened.
The drive home to my family was in total numbing silence. We were all in shock and we were speechless.
There were so many questions
Reality hit me when I remembered I had my assessment the next morning. What was I going to do? Should I go? Should I cancel?
I saw my Dad every week. We were close and were similar in many ways. He had been an avid entrepreneur with amazing ideas, dreams and a knack for technology and music. I hadn’t seen him for over two weeks, which was rare, and this was because the last thing he said to me was,
“Get that job, it will set you up. I know you can get it”.
Those words resounded in my mind all night and guess what? I called my friend to let her know what had happened and to confirm she would still need to drive me to the city. I didn’t sleep that night, and with a foggy head and a heavy heart I got ready the following morning, armed with my presentation, a stomach full of butterflies and total uncertainty of how I was going to hold up.
The assessment went well. I somehow put all my emotions aside, believed in myself, and focused on getting the role. By the end, I was emotionally drained, physically dizzy and when asked about relocating if I got the role I let the panel know what had happened. I’m not going to say it was easy; it was probably the most challenging thing I have ever done, but I had so much determination and a positive anchor in getting the role that nothing could stop me. I ended up getting the job and spent a decade with what was an amazing and career building company.
Some people may call me ruthless, insensitive and crazy; I even questioned myself on this at the time, but my optimism and positive outlook went into overdrive and got me through. This is an example of when the motivation of optimism in overdrive worked for me.
Many years later, this same motivation of ‘optimism in overdrive’ worked in the reverse when a colleague commented that when we sometimes didn’t land certain projects we had pitched, I moved on too easily and maybe didn’t look at why we didn’t get the work. his opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to look into why some of the work we pitched didn’t go through. The lesson here was that at times I needed to be more realistic and lower my positivity.
The lesson has served me well in running my practice. I have learnt that it is okay and acceptable to be open and show some vulnerability at times in order to grow, learn and have realistic expectations.
When working with people who may have different motivators to ourselves, we need to be conscious of these in order to work even better together and complement each other. In this example my colleague was more of a realist and was motivated to solve problems, where as I was goal oriented and optimistic. This frustrated her as she saw me as unrealistic; whereas I saw her as being negative. In either case, we were both right but just needed to understand each other better and fine-tune the level of what motivated each of us.
I wanted to share my story with you because we need to look at what motivates us at an individual level and dial it up or down accordingly. Others may see the world differently to you.
Feed and satisfy what motivates you, but always check in to ensure your self-motivators aren’t in overdrive and to the detriment of you and others.
Let’s paint a picture……….post meeting you and your colleagues are in the tea room. You are talking away and then you hear someone say “I totally didn’t agree with that” “Why the hell are we doing that?” Other colleagues agree, grunt, grab their coffee and walk back to their desks. Another 1-hour meeting has taken place, another hour you won’t get back.
How often do you walk out of a meeting or huddle and feel that you or others have differing opinions and mindsets on the topics discussed or agreements?
I recently sat in on an SLT (Senior Leadership Team) meeting. A lot of great ideas were talked about, future plans were workshopped and everyone seemed to be on the same page. I’m an advocate of tuning in and listening to what’s not being said and that’s what I did. I noticed hesitation in many of the people sitting in the room. Lack of eye contact, minimal engagement and contribution and dull shakes of the head when a “so-called” agreement was taking place.
Upon leaving the meeting I asked two of the senior leaders what they thought about the topic that was being discussed. One of them said that he didn't mind it and had too much on to think about it further and the other one said she totally disagreed.
I turned around and questioned this and asked why she, as a senior leader, would agree with something when she didn’t believe in it.
This is the response I get when I question this exact scenario across the board:
My idea may have been rejected
I didn't feel I had a place at the table to voice my opinion
No one would have supported me
My voice is never heard
It will create more work for me if I change the idea/s
People listen and then nothing changes
I feel I didn't have the right to speak up
As sad and frustrating as this is, I ask you:
“What does it cost you and or your colleagues if you don’t speak up?”
“What does it cost the organisation you work in or the business you run?”
Not speaking up and being heard for whatever reason is common, I see it everywhere. I truly believe some of the hardest most challenging situations are overcome by staying true to what you believe in and challenging this. We need to learn to “Lead out loud”.
“Dissonance is the truth about harmony”
Harmony can be seen as a moment and I believe healthy debate, with intent, is the input to achieving this. Many teams and businesses seem harmonious and this is comfortable and easy but this doesn’t always create a culture for progression and innovation.
As the Dalai Lama says “Want the Change, Be the change”
By not speaking up, not only are you letting yourself down but also your co workers. I believe that our why to change must exceed our why to remain the same and this can be a good check in to gauge when and why to speak up and challenge something you believe in.
Below are some key tips to get you on track:
Confidence and belief
These two areas come into play when debating with intent so if either of these areas are lacking, look at what you need to do, feel and be to top these up. Maybe you challenged something in the past and were shut down or even penalised? Maybe you said nothing and saw the negative impact of this? These sorts of experiences form our beliefs and we all know the more we believe something, the stronger that belief becomes. I reckon beliefs are lies we tell ourselves so take the time to think about what you need to let go of and rewrite the beliefs that will serve you.
Embrace and acknowledge disagreements
Okay, now you’re on the other side. Do you react or respond when others put healthy debate on the table or challenge something? It’s important that you give back what you would like to receive. Notice what you do and what you say next time a colleague challenges something. Responding with “I hear/see what you are saying” opposed to “No, I think we should….” will pay dividends. It shows you have acknowledged the person and not just what they are putting forward. This builds rapport and a forum of openness and can contribute to the DNA of a culture that embraces people opinions, ideas and thoughts.
Know your why
When challenging something, back it up. It’s as simple as that. Don’t voice something if you don’t why you are challenging it. This is a common thing we all observe where many people debate something to be heard and not for the right reason. Don't be that person. Know the “why” of what you are challenging and back it up with ideas, solutions and an actionable plan of how it could work or be applied, depending on the context. This builds respect from others as this demonstrates that you have invested thought and are serious about what you are raising.
If you work in a culture where speaking up and challenging the status quo is not an option look at how you can introduce this as part of the DNA moving forward.
Bringing this up as a topic to be discussed could be a great starting point.
During The Kindred Executive program, commencing soon, we delve into the topic of leading out loud and challenging the status quo. We’d love to have you as part of this annual collaboration of like-minded leaders exploring what is possible on a regular basis.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear how you foster a space where debate is welcomed and the outcome of this?
In my favourite movie the Wizard of Oz, the leading character, Dorothy, is taken on a life-changing journey where she leaves the comfort of her home in Kansas City to explore the great Land of Oz. Everything she encounters is foreign to her, and as uncomfortable and scary as this experience was, Dorothy changes forever. That is the great thing about change – once change occurs you can never go back to the way you were.
The character that is Dorothy resonates for millions of people the world over as we all move through a fast and challenging landscape of life, both personally and professionally. Dorothy enters Oz on the back of a tornado with the only familiar creature she knows, her dog Toto. She has to adapt and be open to a new world as she awakens among the vibrant colour and fantasy characters of the Emerald city. She meets characters along the way that will challenge her, scare her, make her question who she is and what is right. She is faced with life threatening situations where all she has to go on is her self-belief and conviction in what she needs to do and why. She has to learn to trust, she questions everything and take risks in order to get home. The characters she meets along the way are all in search of something. The Tin Man a heart, the Scarecrow a brain and the Lion is in search of courage. What they all realise in the end is that they have always had all they needed within them from the start. A bit like ourselves, everything we need is there, we just need to stop and tap into these resources and use them to reach our potential and purpose.
As leaders of teams and organisations we have more to get done in less time. We are faced with new technologies, complex systems and structures in many of the organisations we work in and the need to be on top of all of this. Not unlike being dropped into the word of Oz.
The United States military have long been committed to leadership training and practice and their acronym of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) is one many of us are familiar with. The elements of VUCA present the context for which organisations view their current and future state. Volatility refers to the nature and dynamics of change and the speed of this. Uncertainty relates to the lack of predictability and certainty of change – this is where our sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events is so important. Complexity applies to the multiple forces, issues, chaos and confusion that can surround the organisations we are in, and Ambiguity relates to the sometimes-blurred haziness of reality and the mixed meanings of everything we face.
I believe to survive and thrive in such a fast paced and ruthless environment we need to adopt what I call “Limitless Leadership”. Leadership and what it means to us individually needs to be built on, improved, changed and forever evolving; there is no final destination here. To reach the top of a mountain doesn’t mean we have reached our limit – those that summit Everest know that reaching the top is only 50% of the equation. After a climber reaches the top they must descend or down climb the mountain. Not only are they physically exhausted and lacking oxygen and focus but they also need to bring their team down too and believe they can all do it. Uncontrollable variables such as storms, snow blizzards and high winds they must face, and this is no different than people, technology and structural problems that you will be guaranteed to face in any leadership position in any organisation.
Limitless Leadership is an ongoing journey that you need to constantly work on: grow and evaluate your commitment, maintain effective communication skills and deep connections with your team, organisation and the why of what you do. These things aren’t rocket science but so often we are caught up in the doing and become what I call “human doings” and not “human beings”.
Like Dorothy’s red slippers, we also need to break out of our comfort zones to explore what really matters to us and why we do what we do. We need to know this and live and breathe this in order to get us through these challenging times and be the best we can be. Of the thousands of executives I have worked with, the ones that really shine and find success have these three things in common:
A clear purpose
Are you consciously aware of what lights you up and “why” you do what you do? Not having a why is like travelling to a destination without a GPS. Purpose gives us clarity around our direction and changes our thoughts and feelings into whatever action we do or don’t take and therefore our results and happiness:
◦ What do you value?
◦ What is important to you and what do you stand for?
◦ What are you passionate about – in the organisation you work with and for yourself?
◦ In three words sum up a life well lived and on purpose, for you?
◦ What gives you satisfaction and fulfilment?
◦ Why do you do what you do?
◦ What will be your legacy in five years’ time?
A strong self-belief
Knowing your purpose is one aspect but now you need to feel deep conviction and have self-belief in this. By having true self-belief in who you are and your abilities, along with a strong purpose, you are now in a position to being fully committed:
◦ What are your strengths?
◦ What can you offer the world that is unique to you?
◦ What compels you to take action?
◦ How do you continue to take action during a challenging time?
◦ What have you achieved that nobody else has?
◦ What are your suggestions for developing a strong mind-set?
◦ What will it cost you not to have self-belief and conviction in your purpose?
Awareness of Motivation
Strong motivation and knowing what energises us can determine almost 65% of our predictability for success in a role. So many people do what they are competent at but not what they actually enjoy. A strong purpose and belief in self, along with the ability to tap into your true motivators, can set you up to shine! Know what motivates you and feed these motivators in order to stay energised. Know what motivates others and satisfy these, not just manage them:
◦ What gets you out of bed in the morning?
◦ If you could do one particular function of your job, what would that be?
◦ What particular things in life give you energy and purpose?
◦ Which would you prefer – chase a goal or solve a problem?
◦ What lights you up and makes you feel alive?
Brendon, a senior leader I have been working with, loved his role and was more than competent but really didn’t know what kept him on track or why he did what he did. He could have continued on his current path but when we delved into what was important for him and what motivated him from a deep level, his entire energy changed as he felt more on purpose and more fulfilled.
Tapping into your true purpose and having a concrete belief in your abilities and who you are will fuel deep motivation to be the true you. This in turn keeps us on track when we hit challenging times – like the tornado that swept Dorothy into the Emerald city. When we live a life true to ourselves and congruent to our values, we cannot help but shine and emit an energy that helps others to reach their full potential.
During The Kindred Executive program (commencing in June 2018), we delve into the topic of purpose as one of the key themes. We’d love to have you as part of this annual collaboration of like-minded leaders exploring what is possible on a regular basis.