Let's LEAD - February 2022
Well, I could have handled THAT better!
There's this 'thing' I've been trying to get my adult son to take care of...for months. It's one of those frustrating things that feels like a slow rolling boil under the surface.
He recently promised to take care of it...and after I texted him with '??,' he called me with a tone I didn't appreciate.
So instead of pausing (remember tip #2 in last month's newsletter?) and diffusing the situation, I met him where he was.
As I felt the heat rise in my body, I knew the conversation was headed in the wrong direction. I remembered some great advice from a coaching colleague:
"Once you have your story, look for the facts."
I worked (hard) to shift from the Grand Inquisitor to Curious Coach:
What's your plan to get it done?
What's getting in the way?
It wasn't easy because my emotions were still pretty charged, but by the time we hung up, our mutual tone was fairly neutralized.
And I was exhausted.
As I reflected on the call, I could see my part:
- I was already triggered (that 'slow rolling boil'), and texting him at that time was NOT a good idea.
- I failed to set a clear expectation early on and allowed this situation to continue for FAR too long.
- I expected him to respect a commitment the way I do. Oops...
Let's do the math: Expectations + Disappointment = Resentment
...leading to poor choices, and maybe some regrets about how I handled myself during that call.
In our Self-Leadership© model, REFLECTION is the 2nd practice that, along with PRESENCE, builds our Self-Awareness. Creating periods of reflection allow us to 'check in' on our choices, their impact, and any trends we may notice in our emotional triggers and resulting behavior.
It also gives us insight into what's important to us. In this situation, I can see how my core value of INTEGRITY felt like it was being attacked.
Did I have the right to be angry? You betcha!
Nevertheless, a better strategy would have been to be PRESENT to my emotions and excuse myself from the call, re-engaging when I was less triggered.
So, as leaders, after reflecting on our choices and their impact, how do we hold ourselves accountable for our less-than-ideal behavior?
Click this image for a video with some thoughts:
3 Tips - Creating space for looking in the mirror
There's a great saying: 'Put down the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror.' The meaning is probably pretty obvious: stop looking for where you can place blame, and look no further than your reflection in the mirror.
Sure, maybe you wouldn't have gotten angry had the other person NOT made the choice they did, AND you are still responsible for YOUR choices, regardless of theirs.
This is NOT just about any poor choices you make, it's about the GREAT ones too! As a matter of fact, our reflection time should START (see #2 below) with the things we did RIGHT!
Prioritize reflection time. I recommend periods of reflection as a DAILY practice...the goal is to make it a habit. Eventually, it will become automatic for you, and until it does, put it on your calendar.
My strategy: At the end of each workday, I block off 30 minutes to close out the day. This time slot also acts as the line between my 'work' life and my 'home' life. Really important when you work remotely.
This 30 minutes includes reviewing the next day's calendar, making a note of what I wasn't able to accomplish and moving it to the next day's 'to do' list, and my reflection time, where I journal on Tip #2 ↓.
Reflect on three simple questions:
What went well today? Give yourself credit for the things you did RIGHT! Maybe you had someone's back during a contentious meeting, or maybe you DIDN'T cancel that 1:1 call you had with one of your team members, even though you were double-booked.
Acknowledging when you showed up AS INTENDED is critical! Don't minimize the impact of living your intended leadership brand...this should be celebrated.
What DIDN'T go so well? As I mention in the video above, this requires you to be HONEST, OPEN, and WILLING.
For some of us it's easier to ignore that empty pit in your stomach that's telling you you could have been a lot more compassionate when that team member told you they needed to leave early to pick up their child from daycare. Or when you minimize the impact on your team when you criticized a team member's idea during a brainstorming session.
Acknowledging when you DIDN'T show up as intended gives you an opportunity to course-correct and exercise some self-forgiveness. Take a minute to think about WHY you fell short of how you intended.
Think HALT: were you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? These aren't excuses...but maybe reasons. If you missed lunch due to back-to-back meetings or didn't sleep well the night before, and these factors tend to impact your effectiveness, what can you do to address them?
What will you do differently next time? How can you create some space between meetings? Were you scrolling through Facebook at midnight last night?
Look at the root cause; whatever the issue, what can you do to address it? Think about weeds in your lawn...mowing them may make them less visible in the short-term, but digging them out at the root may take care of them once and for all.
Clean up your mess. Maybe you noticed it at the time but didn't have an opportunity to address it in the moment. Better late than never.
This step requires some vulnerability; when you truly hold yourself accountable. Is an apology or a new commitment required? Keep it simple...with no excuses.
"Dave...I owe you an apology. When you told me yesterday that you needed to leave early to pick up your child from daycare, I could have been more supportive. I'll work to be more understanding in the future."
"Hey team...after reflecting on yesterday's team meeting, I realized how my feedback on Heather's idea seemed to shut down others in the meeting. That is the opposite of what I intended, and I'll work on being more encouraging in the future."
If acknowledging your personal successes or holding yourself accountable when things don't go well is new for you, it may feel uncomfortable at first.
I know that for me, the more I put this into practice, the easier it was for me to look at myself in the mirror...
What I'm reading (articles, books*):
I was in a Barnes & Noble bookstore (aka heaven) the other day, and saw this book: Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer.
Can't wait to dig in!
*I use Amazon links (no affiliate relationship); please check with your book retailer of choice
...and something more:
I caught some of the Olympic ice dancing (now 'rhythm skating') competition last night, and the Canadian team used this music. They were great, but the song REALLY caught my attention. It's a slow start, but hang in there...
I'm predicting goosebumps...
Stay tuned for details about a new program I'll be introducing soon!
It's called the Empowering Women Leader's Lab...a small group opportunity to learn more about Positive Intelligence, my Self-Leadership model, and most importantly, learning from each other how to solve real-time issues and overcome leadership challenges.
I'm excited to share the details, so again, stay tuned!
AND...as I shared last month:
I've been invited to be a General Session speaker at this year's 2022 Inspiring Women Leaders Conference, hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL on March 8th and 9th. The conference is both in-person and virtual, so please consider joining us!
Click on this image to learning more!
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