Sunday, August 6, 2017

Step 1 of Leadership Part 3: From Powerless to Empowered Mindset


Leaders need to embrace both the power and the responsibility of leadership. Many people get promoted to supervisory or management position who bring with them some of the powerless mindsets of being followers.  In this article, I will share my thoughts on the needed paradigm shift and talk specifically about needed transitions from powerless to empowered mindsets.
  1. From Boss is responsible to all are responsible – Admit it. There were times when we complain to our peers about the decisions and strategies of our bosses. We thought we have better ideas and perhaps we’re right, but we seldom talk about it with our boss. We go to the cafeteria with someone else who have no power to change the situation and gripe together. If you are a supervisor or manager now, there’s a good chance, your staff are doing the same. How do you encourage them to come to you and share their opinion? You need to remove the typical barrier that hinder open communication between bosses and subordinates by telling your team members that part of their job is helping you solve problems by sharing their ideas and speak up when they think there are better ways of doing things.
  2. From being reactive to proactive – Leaders are proactive. When you spend too much time putting out fires rather than preventing them from happening, you are being reactive. Proactive leaders anticipate problems, learn from their experience and do better at getting things done because they pay attention.
  3. From finger pointing to problem solving – Blaming never solves problems, problem solving does. Rather than ask who caused a problem, ask what caused it and how to correct and prevent it. Blaming is the work of people who need to push accountability away from them. You can’t do that if you are a leader. It doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help anyone.
  4. From “he makes me so mad” to I can control my own emotion – Emotion is an important part of leading. This does not mean that leaders should not express negative emotion or frustration. However, there is a way of expressing emotion in a way that helps correct behavior. Shouting, embarrassing your team members just won’t help change behavior, on the other hand, it worsens people’s perception of your ability to lead.  Another thing, if you are going to be upset, focus your frustration on the deed rather than the person.  This gives you an opportunity to maintain the relationship while correcting behavior
  5. From there’s nothing I can do to We can look at our alternatives – I’m of the thought that when leaders give up, they have to leave their post. You cannot have a defeated leader continue to lead as it is tantamount to having a defeated team. More often than not, it’s not true that there’s nothing you can do. You haven’t found the solution yet, and if you look harder, you’ll find it.
  6. From that’s just the way I am to I can choose a different approach – When we lead, we lead different kinds of people with different values, personalities and preferences. It helps to know them and learn how to effectively deal with them A good leaders is a good learner. They have a growth mindset that allows them to adjust to different people and emotion
  7. From waiting for orders to taking actions – most leaders report to higher ranking leaders. Many new supervisors and managers wait for instructions, which shouldn’t be the case. As front line leader or a mid-level manager, we need to lead 360 degrees. The way to do it is to recognize what changes, you have the power to make and influence, people whose support you’ll need to make those changes happen. That includes your boss, your peers and your staff.


These are all easier said than done. I’ve talking about these in all my supervisory, management and leadership courses and yet, I still find my self, demonstrating powerless thinking like blaming or failing to adjust to people and situation. I do my best to catch my self when it happens so I can make the necessary correction. If you are a manager, people will hesitate to call you out on your actions, you have to be responsible for your own behavior by being aware of your emotion, your reaction to it, and how you project it. It’s part of your self mastery.  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Step 1 of Leadership Part 2

If Leadership is learn-able like what many experts say, why do many people still fail to demonstrate leadership despite being given training or accessing information to help them learn leadership?  I have a hypothesis and that’s what I wish to discuss with you today.

If you haven’t read part 1, I suggest that you go there first. The premise of this series is that the first step of leadership is leading one’s self. It was former Hanover Insurance CEO Bill O’ Brien who said “the quality of the intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.” The leader is an intervenor; hence the quality of his/her leadership is dependent on his/her interior condition. To me this means one’s ability to lead oneself is an important first step.
It all starts with self-awareness and that is what part 1 was about.  This post will be about “Self-Regulation.

Self-regulation is crucial to any kind of success whether you are a leader or not. However, the impact of self-regulation of leaders multiply by the number of people they lead. So what is the effect of lack of self-awareness and regulation to them and their followers? Leaders who are unaware of their strengths, their values, or are not in touch with their emotions, fail to self-regulate hence, respond to situations in a counter-productive manner.  People who attempt to learn leadership transaction but fail to develop their ability to self-regulate, easily put their learning experiences to waste by reverting back to their old familiar ways when they face challenges. 

This reminds me of that old Mike Tyson quote; “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Many so-called leaders throw their learning out the window as soon as the pressures of the job hit them. 

I’ve met with leadership training participants in my follow through sessions. I really see the difference between those who have the ability self-regulate and those who can’t.  The former will have plenty of story about how they applied their learning and how it yielded results, whether positive or negative. They will have questions and realizations about how to move forward. The latter have plenty of excuses about how busy they are with other priorities that’s why they have not applied their learning action plans.

There are several things that being able to master our emotion can do to us.  When we have better self-control, we can manage our impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well. If we can do that, we are not easily knocked down by trying times because we are able to focus better.  Better self-control leads to being accountable, conscientious, better ability to learn and adapt to change. This means lesser need to make excuses, being defensive and demonstrating behaviors we may later regret.

Well, it looks like this one is getting too long and still not enough information to get you started. Tell you what, wait for part 3, so I can share some of the things I think we should explore to lead ourselves better. I’m going to write about mental models and paradigm shifting, locus of control, managing stress and dealing with negative emotions.  That just sounded more than part 3! No worries, we’ll get it done. 

Visit ExeQserve's website if you wish to explore personal mastery as a training for the leaders in your organization. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Step 1 of Leadership - Part 1

Many people still think that they are put in a leadership role. I disagree. I believe we are put in a position that requires leadership but it is up to us to apply leadership in that role.  Leadership, therefore is not something that lands on our lap, it’s something we decide to do.  Our success in it starts with leading ourselves.


We are the "ground zero" of our own leadership journey. Much of the complaints I hear from people who fail to lead others (followers’ cat-and-mouse attitude, failure of to listen, lack of commitment, etc) comes from their failure to model leadership behaviors.

This writing work will have several parts so I can chunk what I wish to share in bite-size pieces and so I don’t have to wait until I am able to complete the whole thing before I share it in one fell swoop.

This Part 1 will be about Self-Awareness, Daniel Goleman’s recommended first step towards self-regulation.  

Deming said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. In the same sense, you can’t control what you are not aware of.  So, let’s tackle this topic.

Increased self-awareness happens when we take interest in “what we’re made of.”  Jo Luft and Hari Ingham’s JOHARI Window is a good framework to use at the start of this journey of self-discovery.  Here’s how I propose that we use it.
  •  The Arena – things we know about ourselves that others also know. These include everything that’s visible about us, things we disclosed including personal information, opinion, demonstrated skills, applied talents, expressed values and others. The goal is to widen our arena so that we and the world are aware of who we are and what we represent. The way to do this is to decrease the size of the other panes. 
  • The Fa├žade – this pane covers the things we don’t disclose to others; our secrets, unshared feelings and opinions and undisclosed thoughts. It helps to recognize what we are uncomfortable of expressing and decide if they help us or not.
  •  Blind spot – there are things about us that people know but we don’t, or at least refuse to accept.  Listening to others and considering their opinion will help us understand ourselves better and later manage our behaviors better.
  •  Unknown – Our untapped potentials continue to be unknown until we learn to take risk and discover ourselves through the challenges we experience.

The journey within is not easy. We have to be willing to accept that we have strengths as well as weaknesses. Whether those weaknesses are things we discover ourselves or given as a feedback by others, we need to listen so it contributes to our self-awareness. The more you fight information that seems to attack your self-concept, the longer it takes for you to learn.
Here are a few suggested activities you can take to enhance self-awareness:
  • Take the strengths-finder test to find out what your strengths are
  • Take a personality test that helps validate your strengths and weaknesses. MBTI or DISC are just some of them
  •  Identify your personal core values, describe them and identify critical incidents to help contextualize these values.
  •  Call a friend and ask, what he/she thinks are your strengths and weaknesses. This should validate what the other tests are saying.
  • Experiment. Test your skills. Every time you break a personal barrier, you learn something new about yourself.


In the next post, I’ll talk about Self-Regulation as a way to achieve self-mastery.

in the mean time, check out ExeQserve's Personal Mastery Training on Emotional Intelligence