Fix This Person: Coaches and consultants are often brought into organizations to fix things, and whether directly stated or subtly implied, this often involves fixing individuals – behaviors that are getting in the way of a person’s success and ultimately impacting the organization. While the company can identify programs and support to encourage shifts in behavior, it starts with the individual increasing his/her self and social awareness by listening to and acknowledging feedback, and then being willing to do the work needed for personal change.
Why Wait for the Feedback to Do Your Work?: So often people wait for the annual performance review process to get constructive feedback, and even when they do receive it, for a variety of reasons chose not to take action. Why not get a sense of how you are doing from your superior, peers and even subordinates, customers and suppliers early in the year, and develop an action plan from there? Be careful to stop yourself from explaining away the inputs, and instead ask what you can do to improve. Doing so will empower you to move to a performance mindset.
You need Mentors AND Sponsors in Your Career: As one builds his/her career, it is imperative to cultivate mentors – wise and trusted counselors and teachers – and sponsors – those typically at senior levels who have the influence and the ability to put people in jobs. Mentors are best developed to help us to understand the business, and then expand our interpersonal skills and abilities necessary to perform successfully in the roles we are in. While managing up and down the organization are important skills to develop, so is connecting with and helping our peers. Peer mentoring creates the groundswell for recognition by those more senior to us as being one who is invaluable to the operation of the business.
Dare to Dream: Many leaders are driven by analytics, revenues, margins, profits, and operational efficiencies. It’s all about increasing shareholder value. Then, when they have some time – usually very little – work is done on interpersonal competence and leadership effectiveness, usually based on current perceptions. One luxury they may never allow themselves is to dream. Dreaming may be one of the most powerful leadership tools there is to envision how to impact the wellbeing and performance not only of those who work for the company, but those who work WITH the company.
Two Steps Forward and One Step Back is Still Progress: One challenge many people have is that they set their expectations too high; that is expecting to change a lifetime of behavior with one or two training programs or having a coach for three months. It is important to manage your expectations about feedback and expected sustainable change, and manage the expectations of others – in particular your boss and those closest to you! Remind them that leadership (and personal) effectiveness is a work in progress and is never finished. Solicit feedback on the WHAT and the HOW of your performance. Two steps forward and one back is still progress!
Copyright The Larsen Group: Architects of Change 2008