This month, I share what you can learn from the book Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to thrive in Complexity by Jennifer Garvey Berger, which has attracted some impressive reviews.
Jennifer points out that, whilst we’re living in a VUCA world, our instincts are wired for a time when things were more predictable. Jennifer posits these instincts now mislead and “trap” us – her book describes each trap (mindtraps), with key questions to help you identify them and habits to develop that will help reduce the impact.
In my coaching work, I see leaders falling into these mindtraps all the time, so Jennifer’s ideas make sense to me. They help you connect with yourself at a deeper level so you can understand the effect of complexity on you, and show how you can flourish rather than just trying to survive. They apply in life as well as at work.
I’ve added my own commentary alongside the author’s ideas.
This article builds on last month’s topic of Meaningful conversations.
When you build relationships and interact with people – whether at work or in your personal life – you will often find others react differently to you in a situation you both face.
In that case, it is likely that the other person is having an emotional trigger that may have started in childhood. When these triggers manifest in ways that appear to be unhelpful or disproportionate, it is likely you are seeing a self-limiting belief in action.
This may also apply to you. Do you ever find you react differently to others, or hold yourself back because you don’t believe something is possible?
Self-limiting beliefs are a problem because they limit our potential to flourish in life. We also risk passing our unhelpful thoughts on to others, including our children (the opposite risk is that other people recognise reject our unhelpful thought patterns but then swing too far the other way).
This month’s article explores this topic. As usual, my advice includes a blend of theory and practical.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”
After 15 months of living with the pandemic, we’re getting tired of being in front of a computer screen all the time. We’re not working fewer hours, but we are becoming less engaged – particularly on an emotional/heart/relationship level. You may not have seen your colleagues for months – particularly if you lead or are part of a globally dispersed team or if you haven’t had any working-from-office days. It’s so long since we’ve had social interaction that conversations have typically become more transactional, just so we can get them over with.
Technology doesn’t lend itself to meaningful conversations in the way face-to-face connection does. That’s why this article focuses on how we can have conversations that deepen relationships and are more productive and fulfilling, even online.
Many of us are still mostly working from home. Even when lockdown lifts, it’s likely that we’ll move to a hybrid model comprising both home working and office working. (I wrote about this last month: The new model of office working.)
Many people working remotely are getting tired of back-to-back video calls. This means it can be hard to keep their attention during your online meetings. One answer is to include audience participation activities that help to bond the team and reinforce your desired outcome.
When running face-to-face meetings, I always have a few energisers up my sleeve to use when I feel energy levels start to dip. Online, this is even more important.
For this article, I’ve teamed up with Jackie Barrie, the author of Experiential Speaking: Engaging icebreakers, energisers and games. She’s currently working on a new book explaining how to keep people engaged online, and is kindly giving us a preview of some of the content below.
I hope you’ll find at least one idea you can try with your team, and look forward to hearing how you get on.
I don’t like the expression “new normal“ – maybe I’ve heard it so many times that I’m bored of it! But we do need to consider what the new model could look like for the way we work once all the lockdowns are lifted, worldwide.
What is clear to me from recent conversations with clients is that things won’t go back to the way they were before the pandemic. This has major implications for leaders in terms of office arrangements, use of space, and ensuring the culture enables employees to flourish and embrace innovation.
While some technology companies may claim that they are moving to a permanent working from home situation, the reality is that a hybrid model where you blend home and office working is likely to be the best way forward.
This article looks at some of the areas leaders need to focus on.
This month, we look at the various types of culture that your organisation might exhibit, and invite you to explore a commitment culture. This was first written about before ‘agile working’ was valued, and has many similar characteristics.
The pandemic has forced many of us to slow down and take time to think. Whilst there are many benefits to this, it can also be quite scary; our usual busyness can shield us from facing important topics.
Last month’s article was about reconnecting with your purpose. This month, we talk about emotional courage – what it is, why people avoid it, and some practical guidance to help make it easier.
For example, if you have come to believe that you’re in the wrong profession, it will take emotional courage to admit that you want to change your career path and start something new. If your new plans are radically different, you could feel overwhelmed. You might face an initial drop in salary. It can also be hard to tell your family and friends, especially if they encouraged you down your original path. But – if it’s what your heart wants – it’s worth doing.
Another example could be when facing a difficult conversation. We can often feel nervous about potential conflict, or worry that the other person might become angry, or fear we’ll react in an overly defensive way.
A key mindset is to know that things are always going on which are outside anyone’s control. How do you sit with that uncertainty? What emotions does it bring?
The lockdown period has meant we’ve had to change our routines and spend significant amounts of time at home. Without the usual interactions we have with others, many of the people I talk with tell me they are experiencing one or both of these problems:
- Some feel they are starting to lose their social skills and confidence and are therefore finding it easier to stay at home
- Some are prioritising connection with colleagues but de-prioritising their relationships with other stakeholders (there’s only so much Zoom time one can cope with…)
Do you recognise this? In the long-term, these will impede your ability to deliver value, both as an individual and as part of a team. They might even reduce your overall confidence and well-being.
This article focuses on rebooting your social skills and confidence and includes a couple of self-assessment questionnaires so you can see where you are and identify where you might need to invest development time.
Remember to think of the present situation as physical distancing, not social distancing!
I recently came across a BBC podcast on ways to stay calm, and an HBR article on a similar subject. For this month’s article, I’ve extracted the key points and added my perspective. Much of it focuses on the ancient Greek philosophy of stoicism – this seems particularly useful at a time when anxiety levels may be high due to the ongoing pandemic and surrounding uncertainty.
The article covers what you can do if you’re feeling anxious yourself, as well as how you can support your team. The core message is that we can’t control what happens, but we can control how we respond.
As the Buddhist monk Matthieu Richard wrote in his book, Happiness: “Most of the time it is not outward events but our own mind and negative emotions that make us unable to maintain our inner stability and drag us down”.
With the pandemic ongoing around the world, your people are probably more certain by now about the technology they need to be productive at home. However, as you know, leadership is not just about tasks and processes. It’s also about relationships.
Your people need to feel cared for and supported, especially at a time like this. They need to feel connected to their team-mates. But how do you engage a large community who might be geographically dispersed?
Among other things, this article covers some of the principles you need to keep in mind when running virtual team meetings, as well as the tools, tips and techniques to use, and which mindset will be most helpful.