How many times have you heard or uttered that phrase?
John is a risk-averse CFO, unwilling to make a decision without all facts. Linda, in operations, is conflict-averse; everyone knows she won’t address personnel problems or speak up in meetings. Only God knows what she’s really thinking.
And then there’s Mike, the judgmental and sarcastic CEO. Don’t ever reveal a weakness in his presence.
We tend to use shorthand labels to summarize people as their most prominent dysfunction. We see them as static beings acting illogically. Hidden is how these personality tendencies are the tip of the iceberg of their inner emotional landscape.
A colleague walks into your office, looks at you across the room, raises an eyebrow and says, “Got a minute?” You reply, “What’s up?” They close the door and begin, “Well, you’ll never believe what happened…” and launch into a compelling story of incompetence, betrayal and injustice that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. As they pause for a breath, you think, “How can I help?” More than likely, if you’re a get-it-done type of leader, you dive in with them: “The idiots!” Or, let’s say you’re more of a “people-person”. Your reply may sound something like, “Yeah, that’s really bad. You don’t deserve to be treated like that.” In other words, you’re on their side, and you want them to know it. Right?
It’s human nature.
Unfortunately, the story is never quite so simple. For example, perhaps your colleague forgot to mention that the wayward client only went to another vendor after three failed attempts to get your colleague to review the proposal and submit a revision. He can’t admit to you that he played a part in the unfolding drama. And you, despite your high integrity and genuine desire to help, can’t ask him to talk about it.
Why do we fail to provide powerful support like this in the workplace? How do we step in so we can help elevate the game of those around us in a bold and inspiring way?
Of course, it’s not the kind of balance that I want. Like most of us, I want harmony and peace of mind at work and at home.
Creating balance in life is about making choices (small and big) that serve: 1) our higher purpose; 2) our intellect; 3) our heart; and 4) our body and material reality.
Is there a tip to create balance?
I don’t have one. But spending some time to reflect on the quality of our thoughts, emotions, communications and actions, on what gives us energy, what doesn’t, what are the structures that we need, the ones we don’t, where do we need to take risks, where do we need to slow down, where we are at the mercy of how we need to be perceived… all of that is indispensable to make the right choices and be on the path of a sustainable life. That’s what we do in our Time & Mastery seminar.
Is your life balanced? Do you have best practices to share?
When someone gives me negative feedback – especially when it’s out of the blue or delivered in a less-than-centered way, my first reaction is to get defensive. Maybe I have a perfectly good rationale for why I acted the way I did. Maybe my coworker, boss, roommate or girlfriend clearly doesn’t understand how hard my week has been, how much stress I’m under, and hey, how dare they criticize me anyway! I only acted the way I acted because of them – their immaturity, their lack of consideration, etc.
One of my good friends seems to take the opposite stance. In the face of criticism – or even the possibility of criticism – she tends to become apologetic, self-flagellating and downtrodden. Although this is a near-opposite reaction to mine, my hunch is that it’s actually coming from the same place: a preoccupation with our self-worth – our image of being perfect, good, righteous and irreproachable.
A culture of authenticity, inspiration and ego-free relationships will inspire your people to take risks, go the extra mile and surpass performance expectations. Time and again, we have seen how grateful people are when leaders create cultures that make that possible. If your organization could use this, consider holding a WeLead, LaL’s in-house leadership development and culture change program. Here is Marc-Andre Olivier, LaL’s WeLead Director and Senior Facilitator & Coach, talking about the power of WeLead.
Download the WeLead brochure for more information.
by Noah, Nuer, Chief Learning Officer, Culture Change Partner, LaL
You want your employees to be motivated and outperform themselves. It’s good for the company and it’s good for you. One could argue, in fact, that it’s an intricate part of your job as a manager and a leader.
Yet how can you influence that when you can’t control other people’s motivation? I wish I could just tell them: “I command you to be motivated!” But at least we have ‘carrot and sticks’, rewards and punishments, and you know it works. That is so much a part of our education. And you go for the self-evident solution: I’ll promise a performance bonus — that will take their collective performance to the next level!
But it didn’t. Maybe it even made them worse. How does that make sense?
According to Daniel Pink, the best-selling author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, it does. In the video above, Pink presents what will motivate (or demotivate) your people, according to his research. This is a RSA Animate presentation, which takes the voice-over of a fascinating presentation and brings it to life by illustrating it with drawings and animation. The result makes for an entertaining, engaging and thought-provoking experience, at least in my experience.
In this video, Pink explains that the commonly held belief is that rewards bring more motivation while punishment brings less, and therefore, rewarding accomplishment with more money is the most effective way. However, research shows that this is only true for the basic rudimentary, straightforward tasks. As soon as a job requires conceptual or creative thinking, decision making, strategizing or leadership, then a larger financial reward doesn’t lead to a better performance but a poorer one!
Money is a motivator but in a counter-intuitive way, he says: You need to pay people well enough so that they don’t worry or think about their compensation anymore.
Then what are the real incentives here to better performance (and personal satisfaction)? The three following factors:
- Autonomy (desire to be self-directed)
- Mastery (urge to get better at stuff, to get challenged)
- Purpose (he who only looks at profits, watches them shrink)
Interestingly, this discovery would also explain why people leave our workshops with so much energy. Without them realizing it, our methodology directly affects people’s sense of empowerment vis-a-vis these three factors. For instance, we look at the places in our life where we feel “At the Mercy” of events or people, and we explore how we can regain a sense of Autonomy (or be “At the Source”). We help people look at what is challenging for them, places they may have even concluded will never change, and we help them be on a path of learning and Mastery about them. And we always look at why we do what we do or why we would want to do something different as we find being connected to this deeper Purpose one of the strongest engines of motivation.
When have you felt particularly motivated or demotivated? Is it aligned or different with Daniel Pink’s presentation? And if you have known about these ideas, what has worked in applying them? What challenges have you faced?
People often ask why we named our company “Learning as Leadership”. The key word is “learning”, which we all use but can find challenging to embody.
Learning is not something confined to the classroom, or that I turn on or off in certain situations. It’s a state of mind, an orientation at every instant in life. And there are so many unconscious ways we’re not in ‘learning mode’.
When I explain to you how much I know, running over your point of view – because I want to be right or, more often, just because I’m sure I am right – I’m not in learning mode.
When a colleague offers feedback or a different perspective, and I react defensively – visibly arguing or justifying, or invisibly shutting down and mentally rehashing why he or she is wrong – I’m not in learning mode.
When I am driven to succeed, consumed by the allure of acknowledgment; or feel the fear of failure, stressed by the consequences of under-performance – no matter how hard I’m working – I’m not in learning mode.
When I’m on autopilot in my comfort zone – admiring my prowess, or rushing to get something done – I’m not in learning mode.
When I replay in my mind what I wish I’d said or plan out what I’m going to tell you once you stop talking – I’m not in learning mode.
“It’s that time again. Ugh.” In a recent coaching call, one of my clients expressed a familiar dissatisfaction. It was performance review time, and he had several performance reviews to prepare. He was concerned that he was going to spend a lot of time preparing and giving the reviews, but that it was not going to truly provide value or motivate his direct reports to grow in the way he needed them to. With certain reports, he had a prior history of unproductive or tense performance reviews.
“You don’t think I’m embarrassed having my wings clipped?!” Bill’s voice cracked as he spoke to the executive team. “Coming in here every day, knowing what I did?”
The team fell silent as the gruff second-in-command pulled his glasses off and wiped his eyes. The CEO, who had just pushed Bill to discuss with the team his transgression that had angered their largest client , watched intently.
Bill had relished his own take-no-prisoners persona – until he went too far and the client finally declared it could ‘take-no-more’ and threatened to pull all their business. As the team scrambled to manage the crisis, hallway recriminations flew furiously. It even spilled into a board meeting.
Bill had met with each member of the management team individually, and assured the CEO that tensions were resolved. His boss wasn’t so confident. “You’re sure you have nothing to say to the entire team?”
I work with many clients who had to be tough to succeed. Whether they’ve had to overcome challenging life circumstances to get where they are or they grew up in a “normal” household, many people I coach did not become successful by being average!
As they moved up the ranks from acceptance into the top schools to being the best in the class, applying for the choicest internships, selected for elite training programs and climbing up their career ladders, the behaviors they learned early on to survive were not only reinforced but heavily rewarded, financially or otherwise.
They’ve also had to put on a mask many times, hiding their real feelings, not speaking up when they don’t know the answer. And sometimes, berating others instead of admitting their own failings. The higher they rise, the more the gap grows between who they really are inside and who the world experiences on the outside.