Have you ever received feedback during your last performance review or when you moved to your new senior leadership role that you “need to be more strategic,”? Then you know how frustrating it can feel especially, when you are given the definition of a word by using the same word. It just isn’t helpful.
I recall one of my first coaching clients who came to me with her goals – one defined as being more strategic rather than reactive in her new executive role. As a Vice President, heading up operations of several countries, she asked me to help her to become a strategic leader.
In order to help Laura with her goal, I chose to pinpoint and question several areas of her development such as making and committing to her actual thinking time, building up her network, researching and learning about the trends within and outside of the organisation etc.
However, despite the fact that this methodology appeared to be as an effective method at first, looking back I understand now that this type of methodology does not always necessary leave a long lasting positive effect in the human behavior. Basically I was working on changing her behaviour prior changing her automatic thoughts in her mindset. Often the feedback during our sessions was: I don’t have time for this, I just have so much work, I am super busy etc.
Here is a guidance based on my knowledge and experience on how you can become more strategic in your new or current role in the long run.
- Start by changing your perception. If you believe that strategic thinking is only for senior executives such as CEOs, CIOs or CFOs etc., think again. It is not and it should be part of any leadership role. More you become strategic, more opportunities for yourself and your organization you will recognize and be able to predict. But what does it really mean to be a strategic thinker? Strategic planning in particular deals with the mission and purpose of the organization, its value proposition, i.e., what value the organization delivers to its customers, as well as the organisation’s future direction and growth.
- That is why it is so important to keep your organisational mission and vision in the back of your mind, as it inspires you to learn more, do more and move outside of your comfort zone in order to accomplish this mission and vision.
- Concentrate on what you want and why you want it. Strategic refers to “what” and “why” the business or leader chooses to do something rather than “how” they plan to accomplish it. During my coaching sessions with Laura we were working to figure out “HOW”. Nowadays I work more strategically as well. Apart from discussing the options of becoming a strategic thinker and strategic leader, together with my client we programm the end goal in his/her subconscious mind and let the client’s mind figure out the HOW itself. This methodology leaves a lasting positive change as it changes the programming of the client’s mind.
- Work on your self – awareness with a leadership & executive coach. Become aware of your unconcsious thoughts and beliefs. Ask your coach to help you with removing your unconscious bias (limiting beliefs and inner blocks) holding you back to become more strategic.
When we know that our results are deriving from our habitual behaviors and our actions are caused by our thoughs and feelings, then programming our new mindset with NEW STRATEGIC THOUGHTS eventually bears strategic actions. What are some examples of such strategic thinking and strategic beliefs?
- My focus as a leader is on how to uniquely deliver more value to the customers of my organization and get my organization to win at the market.
- I embrace external trends with a strong bias toward action and a desire to avoid getting weighed down by processes.
- Where competitors may see constraints, I seek opportunities for my organization
- I question unquestioned market beliefs as well as organizational assumptions
- And more…
You might be asking, is that it? All I have to do is to integrate these sentences into my (subconscious) mind on autopilot and I will become a strategic thinker or strategic leader?
YES! If these thoughts become a part of who you are (your very deep inner mind), naturally with a little effort you will start to :
- research market / industry trends,
- learn about terms and methodologies that are crucial for strategic thinkers,
- how to recognize and seek patterns in multiple sources of data or
- how to reframe problems to get to the root causes, and challenge unconscious beliefs about the market.
These behaviours and many others will become a part of your regular working habits, because your behaviour will be triggered by your new beliefs (strategic thoughts) on autopilot.
How quickly will it happen? This depends on your current “programming” you are presently as a leader operating from. How knowledgeable and experienced you already are as well as what unconscious bias you hold, will be either contributing to – or delaying your new strategic mindset. That is why it is so important to work with a Coach.
Think of it as a tree, which grows by its seed being planted in the soil. This seed initially grows roots. These roots are like all terms, information, data, networks and skills you need to learn and have in order to become strong and stable. In other words, the tree can eventually grow above the surface and bear fruits (making strategic decisions, actions and changes).
If you are interested in knowing more and becoming a strategic thinker and strategic leader, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
While your IQ may have helped you to get to your current leadership role, it is your emotional intelligence that will get you promoted again and recognised for your ability to develop your team or organisation to a high performing one.
The good news? While we all must play the IQ cards we are dealt, Emotional Intelligence can be improved. There are many definitions and interpretations of Emotional Intelligence (EI). The basis of all definitions though is that it is related to human emotions and recognising their effect on human behaviors. The focus of this article is based on the American psychologist Daniel Goleman, who helped to popularize emotional intelligence in the corporate world and found the direct connection between the high performing leaders & teams and their high scores of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people. It is a choice and a discipline, which is required for truly outstanding performance. In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves explain:
- There is no known connection between Emotional Intelligence and IQ
- Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be learned
- EI accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs
- 90% of high performers are also high in EI , while only 20% of low performers are high in EI
- The link between EI & earnings is so direct that every point increase in EI adds $1300 to an annual salary
- In a study of 300 top-level executives from 15 global companies 85-90% of leadership success was linked to social and emotional intelligence (Spencer, L.M. Jr.1997)
- In a multinational study of 515 senior executives EI scores were high in 74% of successful hires, but only high in 24% of failed hires (Eqon Zehnder International)
- Schools whose head teachers have high EI scores demonstrate the best national results of children (Ongoing Hay Group Research)
For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at his team when he’s under stress, intentionally manipulates others for his own interest or a leader who stays in control, calmly assesses any situation and understand the motivators of his/her team and their potential to excell in their performance?
According to Daniel Goleman, there are five key elements to it:
- Relationship skills.
The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence. Before looking at each element in more detail and examine how you can grow as a leader, test your emotional intelligence with our Emotional Intelligence Test. By testing and knowing yourself better, it helps you to bucket your strengths and weaknesses. It is not that such test is perfect measure or predictor, but it facilitates self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness.
If you’re self-aware, you always know how you feel, and you know how your thoughts, emotions and your actions can affect the people around you. Being self-aware when you’re in a leadership position also means having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, and it means behaving with humility.
So, what can you do to improve your self-awareness?
Keep a journal – Journals help you improve your self-awareness. If you spend just a few minutes each day writing down your thoughts, this can move you to a higher degree of self-awareness.
Slow down – When you experience anger or other strong emotions, slow down to examine why. Remember, no matter what the situation, you can always choose how you react to it. Once you learn how to manage your emotions whether at home or at work, it will help you understand what your emotions are telling you and get to the root of their cause.
Self-regulation leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control. This element of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, also covers a leader’s flexibility and commitment to personal accountability.
So, how can you improve your ability to self-regulate?
- Know your values – Do you have a clear idea of where you absolutely will not compromise? Do you know what values are most important to you? Spend some time examining your “code of ethics.” If you know what’s most important to you, then you probably won’t have to think twice when you face a moral or ethical decision – you’ll make the right choice.
- Hold yourself accountable – If you tend to blame others when something goes wrong, stop. Make a commitment to admit to your mistakes and to face the consequences, whatever they are. You’ll probably sleep better at night, and you’ll quickly earn the respect of those around you.
- Practice being calm – The next time you’re in a challenging situation, be very aware of how you act. Do you relieve your stress by shouting at someone else? Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm yourself. Also, try to write down all of the negative things you want to say, and then rip it up and throw it away. Expressing these emotions on paper (and not showing them to anyone!) is better than speaking them aloud to your team. What’s more, this helps you challenge your reactions to ensure that they’re fair!
Self-motivated leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards for the quality of their work.
How can you improve your motivation?
- Re-examine why you’re doing your job – It’s easy to forget what you really love about your career. So, take some time to remember why you wanted this job. If you’re unhappy in your role and you’re struggling to remember why you wanted it, try the FIVE WHYS technique to find the root of the problem. Starting at the root often helps you look at your situation in a new way. And make sure that your goal statements are fresh and energizing.
- Know where you stand – Determine how motivated you are to lead. There are several leadership motivation assessments out there which can help you see clearly how motivated you are in your leadership role. If you need to increase your motivation to lead, get help with understanding (if needed) what resources can help.
- Be hopeful and find something good – Motivated leaders are usually optimistic, no matter what problems they face. Adopting this mindset might take practice, but it’s well worth the effort. Every time you face a challenge, or even a failure, try to find at least one good thing about the situation. It might be something small, like a new contact, or something with long-term effects, like an important lesson learned. But there’s almost always something positive, if you look for it.
For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it. If you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your team, then show them you care by being empathic. How can you improve your empathy?
- Put yourself in someone else’s position – It’s easy to support your own point of view. After all, it’s yours! But take the time to look at situations from other people’s perspectives, whether directly from the perspective of your opponent or even as a neutral observer of the situation. Can you see the situation differently and consequently can you understand their behaviour?
- Pay attention to body language – Perhaps when you listen to someone, you cross your arms, move your feet back and forth, or bite your lip. This body language often tells others how you really feel about a situation, and the message you’re giving isn’t positive! Learning to read body language can be a real asset in a leadership role, because you’ll be better able to determine how someone truly feels. This gives you the opportunity to respond appropriately.
- Respond to feelings – You ask your account manager to work late – again. And although he agrees, you can hear the disappointment in his voice. So, respond by addressing his feelings. Tell him you appreciate his willingness to work extra hours, and that you’re just as frustrated about working late. If possible, figure out a way for future late nights to be less of an issue (for example, give him Monday mornings off).
5. Relationship Skills
Leaders who do well in the social skills element of emotional intelligence are great communicators. They’re just as open to hearing bad news as good news, and they’re expert at getting their team to support them and be excited about a new mission or project. They have the ability to connect with others in ways that help them feel understood and supported.
Leaders who have good social skills are also good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically. They’re rarely satisfied with leaving things as they are, but they don’t sit back and make everyone else do the work: they set an example with their own behavior.
So, how can you build social/relationship skills?
- Learn conflict resolution – Leaders must know how to resolve conflicts between their team members, customers, or vendors. Learning conflict resolution skills is vital if you want to succeed.
- Improve your communication skills – How well do you communicate? Have you heard yourself talking publicly or seeing yourself on a video delivering a presentation?
- Learn how to praise others – As a leader, you can inspire the loyalty of your team simply by giving praise when it’s earned. Learning how to praise others is a fine art, but well worth the effort.
If you are interested in developing your emotional intelligence and ultimately improving your high performance leadership, do not hesitate to contact me
Learn how creating one simple sentence can put you, and your organisation, on a more positive path!
As the new year approached, you are ready for change in your life, and business, and not exactly sure where to start. Affirmations are a simple, yet powerful, technique the best coaches use to help clients transform their lives.
An affirmation is a statement focusing on a quality or behavior that you want to experience in your life or business.
Where your attention goes energy flows. Focusing on the affirmation multiple times a day teaches you a new way of being. It also supports you in breaking through any limiting beliefs that are holding you back from living your most fulfilling life.
Less than two years ago I was working on finding my inner voice. The affirmation I focused on was, “I am listening to, loving, and trusting my inner voice.” As of that point I was able to develop my emotional intelligence to a very high level and very often I can read people’s energetic field through their subconscious mind.
There is no formula of how long it will take and what may come of your affirmation. Be patient and gentle with yourself through the change. Over time you will start to see a shift in yourself and ultimately, the world around you. As Napoleon Hill says: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve, regardless how many times you have to fail.”
Your mind is a magnet and attracts whatever corresponds to its ruling state. Whatever you imagine in your mind, whatever you expect and think about, will tend to bring into your live the things and conditions that are in harmony with. Here is how to create your own affirmation:
1.Pick a quality or behavior you wish to experience in your life.
If you are getting results that you don’t want, then recognize what kind of behavior is producing this unwanted result and describe the polar opposite of this behavior and result you want in details.
2.Create a specific statement using the present tense, positive verbiage, and exciting language.
PRESENT TENSE: Acting as if it is already happening creates the energy you need to make it a reality.
- Useful: I am trusting my intuition to guide me as a leader.
- Not so useful: I will trust my intuition to guide me as a leader.
POSITIVE VERBIAGE: This ensures you are focusing on what you really want to manifest instead of what you want to avoid. Adding gratitude in the sentence puts your body in a positive vibration and in the harmony of what you want.
- Very helpful: I am grateful that I am confidently expressing my views to the world.
- Not as helpful: I am not nervous when speaking publicly.
EXCITING LANGUAGE: This builds the energy behind it and encourages you to stick with it.
- Wonderful: I am feeling an abundance of joy with every action I take in my life.
- Partially wonderful: I am happy.
Other affirmation examples for leadership include:
- I am so grateful that I am confident in my mission, vision and my path as a leader.
- I am so grateful that I am feeling inner peace making decisions based on my values and priorities.
- I am so grateful now that I am turning my goals into actions and my actions into results.
- I am so grateful now that I take responsibility for my results and commit to be a positive force to those around me.
- I am so grateful I am accepting the responsibilities gifted to me in this lifetime with confidence and gratitude.
- I am so grateful that I am a strong, authentic and respected leader, confidently going after my dreams.
- I am so grateful I am generously sharing my gifts with the world and encouraging others to do the same.
- I am so grateful I have courage to follow my heart, I am aligned with my passion and allowing the universe to guide me.
- I am so grateful I am creatively turning perceived problems into opportunities.
3. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Review your affirmation multiple times a day. Add a daily reminder to your phone. Put a sticky note in your car or at your desk. Bring out your creative side and make artwork you can hang in your house. Do you have doubts? Think big and do it! It is a test of self-discipline as well as an effective exercise for creating a positive mindset. At the end you are worthy of experiencing the life you want to live!
4. Bring affirmations to your organisation.
As a leader I encourage you to share your affirmation with your organisation and teams. Some may think this is showing weakness admitting there is even something to change. I see it as demonstrating strength by showing your organization you are continually working on being the best leader, and ultimately person, possible. It will inspire them to do the same.
You can even encourage your organization to focus on their personal growth by asking everyone to create affirmations. Make affirmations part of your culture by asking people to post it at their desk, add it to their e-mail signature, or start meetings with sharing affirmations to create an environment that supports everyone’s growth. At the end of the day that is why we are all here. To grow into the best we possibly can be and make this world an even better place!
Intuition is the ability to know something without having to reason. This knowing comes from a deep feeling within us that things, situations and ideas trigger in us. It is our feeling of knowing without any proof or reasoning.
Successful leaders make smart decisions, even in difficult circumstances. From Albert Einstein to Oprah Winfrey, or many senior leaders I personally met whether in business or politics ascribe their success to having followed their intuition because they trusted it more than anything or anybody else. In other words they trusted themselves.
Becoming strongly intuitive has many benefits, it:
1. supports in critical decision making
2. boosts imagination and creativity
3. allows to be open to innovative ideas, which lead to higher success
4. improves our relationships with others
5. boosts confidence in our own judgment and wisdom
6. helps us to get clear on our true purpose in life
7. leads us to become more an integrated and authentic person.
Based on Malcolm Gladwell and his book “The power of thinking without thinking”, our subconscious mind uses a whole lot more data than our conscious mind, so things that we aren’t consciously aware of can be used to make decisions, and our brain is constantly doing this. The whole point is to become aware of not only ourselves but also of our environment and move away from our “autopilot”.
Once we become more present and mindful we start to observe and notice various – sounds, air currents, vibrations felt by the body, variations in light, emotions in our body- these things contribute to intuition, and when we are more aware of them, we can trust our intuition more.
To be intuitive, we must practice using it, just like a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it becomes.
Sadly, our intuitive guidance can be interrupted through various blocks we might be holding on to e.g. fears, doubts, negative beliefs or our conscious mind – negative thoughts due to our negative environment, family beliefs, negative experience we collected. These can be fortunately removed with various coaching techniques to act on our intuition easier.
Some leaders admitted that they tend to lose their touch with their inner selves due to their demanding work schedule and busy life. It is important to remember that many answers, insights and solutions come only when we are in a more calm and centered state of mind. That is why it is critical to pay attention to any ideas or AHA moments during meditation, walking in nature, running, warm shower, coaching sessions or creative actions e.g. writing, drawing, painting where we get in a state of “flow”.
Acting on our intuition creates results and new evidence it works for us. Another way to build our self-trust is with a repeating powerful positive self-talk daily e.g. I trust myself, I trust my gut, I trust my instinct, I trust my intuition, I know I am moving the right way forward. Even if I am a bit uncomfortable about my decision I made, I know something amazing is available here for me because my intuition lead me here.
You are what you expect. When you trust yourself, you tend to prove yourself right. And when you believe in the availability of your own answers, they tend to show up at the right time. That’s how expectation works. It’s not magic, it’s a psychological primer for future performance. And it’s been scientifically proven that there’s a positive correlation between expectation and performance.
Zuzana Schwalb (ZS) 10.04.2018
Being part of great corporation’s life for many years, I have become a big observer of what a successful organization is being built upon. Successful organizations have the knowledge, compassion and foresight to build a sustainable future for humanity and create conditions where all stakeholders win (these are investors, employees, customers, suppliers, society and the environment). How do they make sure that everyone wins? The leaders of these organisations are aware of their own and stakeholder’s wants and needs and constantly look for new ways of getting them met.
It is very well known to any successful leader that in order to keep the organization’s numbers on balance sheets green, he or she needs to encourage new ideas and new ways of implementing them to meet the expectations not only of the clients and customers but other stakeholders too. Creating and sustaining an innovative organisational culture requires many efforts from the leadership team. Here are some ideas I have observed as best practices of promoting an innovative culture:
- Give thanks for every idea which has been brought to you, even if you cannot use it. Every idea counts so recognize it, for instance at a team meeting or a regular 1:1.. Remember you want to create an organisational culture where everyone is being encouraged and motivated to share his or her ideas.
- Welcome new ideas and be mindful of your responses. Look to respond rather than react by choosing your words wisely. Avoid using the phrase “Yes, but..” when ideas are being presented to you. If you really cannot use the idea, try using the word ‘And’ instead of ‘But’ within your response to the employee. “E.g. Yes and the current budget restrictions are quite tight at the moment to move this idea forward. Let us review in the next quarter…” Subconsciously this will not be regarded by the employee as a negative response or a rejection and your employees will still feel encouraged to bring more ideas forward to you.
- Sincerely listen to the idea being presented to you – ask follow up questions, be 100% present, in other words absolutely NO looking at emails, phone messages or thinking about something else while you’re with your employees. You will demonstrate respect and appreciation by being genuinely interested and present. Remember every energy you give out is being noticed not only by your employees but also by the universe. If you fake it, it will somehow come back to you. This is the universal law of Cause and Effect.
- Promote courage and overcoming fears–start with facing your own fears as a leader. If you show your employees you can be vulnerable and able to face your fears, they will feel empowered to do so too. According to Richard Barrett (The New Leadership Paradigm) “one of the key strengths of authentic leaders is to face his/her fears as only then he/she knows how to lead him/herself before he/she can lead others”. Think of your employees as your reflection or a mirror. Often the struggle of creating an innovative culture lies in the employee’s motivation and fear of making a mistake due to the possibility of being punished, humiliated or mocked for his or her mistakes. If they are afraid to face their fear, they are somehow mirroring your fears and you need to resolve your fears before helping them to resolve theirs.
- Stimulate trust – trust feeds innovation, collaboration, empowerment, loyalty which results in a better human interaction, deal making, project success and quality. If mistakes are being made, make sure your employees learn lessons from their mistakes and they move on. The universal Law of Forgiveness states that by forgiving and letting go of any negative thoughts and feelings, we encourage a better and positive future. Whatever you focus on, you manifest. If you constantly focus on mistakes, more mistakes will be created.
- Spot innovators in your team – these are generalists rather than specialists, they know a little about many things and like to move around to experience new things, don’t fancy tight deadlines, but need some kind of boundaries. Get to know their motivational force in order to keep it running so they constantly work on their creativity. Make sure ideas are implemented.
- Encourage the employee’s exposure to other environments and jobs by implementing the model of job shadowing or job rotation as a part of their individual development. This opens up their creativity and moves them out of their comfort zone. Encourage them to spend a few hours a month in a different department following somebody on his/her job or working in another location and you will see extraordinary things happen. Apart from feeding their creativity, this approach dilutes internal communication silos, inspires positive working practices to take place, and increases an employee’s engagement and development opportunities.
- Unique and relevant strategy – If your strategy is vague or fails to differentiate your organisation from the competition, you should change this situation as quickly as possible. Make sure your innovators understand your strategy and strategic goals. There is nothing worse than when innovators come up with new ideas, no matter how creative and indeed innovative they may be, that do not align to corporate strategy.
Remember the culture you create as a leader is a reflection of your values, beliefs and behaviors you hold and use. Your beliefs, thinking and behavioral patterns have been collected by you throughout your life from your family, friends, teachers, bosses etc. and are stored in your subconscious mind. Whatever your subconscious mind is being filled with creates your reality around you. You cannot cheat the universe. The good news is that you can consciously reprogram these in order to create the positive changes you would like to make and see within the organisation or even your private life. Stay tuned for my next article where I’ll share practical tips for reprogramming your subconscious mind to create your ideal reality.LIFE PURPOSE is the unique impact you are called to make for the benefit of others. Only then you come alive.