Articles by Charlene McLauchlan
The Ability to Monitor YourselfClick to open The Ability to Monitor Yourself
Do you know what triggers you? What are those peculiar circumstances that “all of a sudden” you are not behaving according to your own set of standards? I am sorry, but even the best of us have people or circumstances that are “red hot buttons” that for some reason stimulate our negative emotions. As a leader, having good Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a game changer. “EI is the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, an to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Daniel Goleman helped popularize the concept of EI in his 1995 bestselling book: Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ.”
Inspirational or Authoritarian Leadership?Click to open Inspirational or Authoritarian Leadership?
I am sure everyone has had the experience of working or living with someone who is all about authority. They use their position to extract compliance or obedience from you.
How did that feel? If you would, indulge me for a few minutes in a simple little exercise. Try standing up and look into a full-length mirror as you reflect on that experience. As you look into the mirror, notice your posture, the position of your shoulders, any tension in your back or abdomen. What does the expression on your face look like? Jot down what you notice; what you are feeling.
Now, think about someone who has inspired you; really feel how you are when you think about that person. Again, look into the mirror- notice your posture, the tension or lack of tension in your back or abdomen. Now what does the expression on your face look like? Jot down what you noticed and what you felt.
I am confident there was a big difference between the two lists. I know when I have worked with an inspirational leader, there is no limit to how hard I would try to get the results we were working toward. With the authoritarian leader who just tells me what to do, I am resistant from the beginning.
So, what kind of leader are you? Would the people in your workplace describe you as inspirational? How would they describe you? This is an example of how valuable it is to get open and honest feedback from people in your organization. How can we improve if we are unaware of how we affect others and don’t have any awareness of our blind spots?
Everyone knows the saying “1+1=3” in regards to teamwork. If there is a challenge at hand, taking the time for the team to be involved in developing the plan and creating the solution is a way to be inspirational. You are demonstrating your trust and confidence in them. You are demonstrating the ability to listen to solutions that are not your idea.
Imagine if you just gave out assignments and declared “this is how we are going to do it.” Think back to the first exercise – how did you look in the mirror; how did you feel when you were imagining the authoritarian leader?
Creating a winning environment is everyone’s job, every day. Inspiring and empowering the people in your workplace to prioritize creating a winning environment maybe a lofty goal, but it will be a game changer for your organization.
How to Lead in Uncertain Times Click to open How to Lead in Uncertain Times
Uncertain times seem to be the new normal. How have you changed your leadership style?
Often when we feel uncertain and challenged, it is easy to default to “command and control.” Just start dishing out orders and assignments. How has that worked for you?
When I have tried “command and control,” it always backfired…sometimes sooner than later. Maybe it would be different if I was the captain of a sinking ship, but in my business the situation was never that dire.
In looking back, I now recognize that if my anxiety was high because of chaos, my people are even more anxious. The best results were when I stopped and took a breath. I hit the pause button; breathe in and out. I sat down with my people. I singled out the challenging people and the leaders; I met with them individually. I got them talking about all their concerns, worries and hopes. Then I met with the team as a group and got them talking. It was hard, but I really listened to them. We brainstormed as a group what we could control and what we couldn’t control. As a group, we created a path forward. We agreed to check in once a week to monitor progress and tweak the plan if needed. It took about 7 months, but we navigated our way out of a very tough situation.
I know it is tempting to think there is not time for all of this team involvement, all of the communication and brainstorming when you are inside the pressure cooker. But think again. This experience really changed my team. They shifted to more authentic communications with each other, increased trust and accountability. Instead of me having to create the solution, I tapped into the brain power of my whole team…. you can’t beat that. And, most important, the team had skin in the game! You can’t put a price tag on working with a very high functioning team.
This past year has reinforced how unpredictable the world can be and how interconnected everything is. It has highlighted for me that it is important to be “sharpening the saw” as often as I can because I can’t predict what it around the corner. What are you doing to keep your leadership skills sharp?