Guest Post by Mark Nation: A More Thoughtful Workout


John:  We could probably all use a little more “work-out” time.  Mark Nation has some simple and effective steps to share with us that will make a significant and positive difference in our professional and personal lives.

Then maybe we will find working on our physical bodies a bit easier too:) …

A More Thoughtful Workout: 6 Steps to Better Mental and Emotional Health By Mark Nation

Most of us are familiar with emotional intelligence, and how important it is to couple strong “EQ,” or emotional intelligence, with strong IQ in the workplace. In addition, a strong body of work exists that helps us to understand how “thoughts are things” and, “what we think about, we bring about.” Both philosophies are very powerful, and together they have developed many leaders from ‘mental and emotional weaklings’ into ‘executive Atlases.’

How strong is your own mental and emotional physique? Have you ever spent time building intentional strength in these two areas? Were you once strong, but perhaps missed a few sessions (or a few months) at the gym? Has work ‘pounded’ you, such that you’re carrying around way too much excess weight? Or, are you currently sidelined, stagnant and motionless, fearful to rebuild your career or your life?

Whether you are a newbie to the discipline, a weekend warrior, a fallen hero, or a rising star, you always have great opportunities to improve mental and emotional fitness. These two leadership ‘dynamic duos’ pair perfectly together and work best when part of a combined workout.

Here are six steps to more “thought-full” exercise:

  1. Check Your Pulse. Be honest with yourself about your current mental and emotional fitness levels. Get in tune with what (and who) drives you – and who drains you. Target a couple of areas where you can get quick wins that keep you coming back.
  2. Start Where You Are. You may be working out already, and simply need more consistency and intensity. Or, you may never have worked on your mental nor emotional health before. No matter where you are…there you are. Just start. Begin now.
  3. Buy Some New Clothes. Chances are your mental and emotional wardrobe is tired, drab and out-of-date. Moths, dust, and cobwebs may pervade your thought closet. Workouts and training programs are always more fun when you wear nice clothing and shoes that fit well. Get some new “duds” for yourself; wrap your mind and heart in the garments you deserve. Wear wicking layers that allow the ‘wetness’ of life (including toxic jobs or relationships) to roll off these most precious parts of your physique.
  4. Work with What You Have. No doubt you have been through battles and sustained some scars and tears. We all have. Just promise not to let those aches and pains defeat you; instead, let them define Don’t underestimate the power of vulnerability to fuel your authentic leadership efforts – weakness (i.e., failures, struggles, heartbreaks, etc.) often houses your greatest strength and potential.
  5. Push Yourself. You have to lift heavier weights to build larger muscles; you have to run uncomfortably fast for uncomfortably long periods in order to eventually run faster, comfortably. Why don’t you apply this “be comfortable with being uncomfortable” technique to your mental and emotional capacity? Keep driving more work into the system, and your engine will not only grow, but also become more efficient, ever-happier to support more power at higher speeds.
  6. Try Something New. There are muscles inside you that you don’t even know exist, much less make any effort to use. Try a new type of workout to ‘crosstrain’ your brain and heart as frequently as you can. It could be any sort of positive and helpful activity, such as reading fiction, meditating, walking backward, calling one friend per day for a week, going to church or synagogue, doing puzzles, etc. Different workouts stimulate new muscles and joints which bring added strength and power previously unknown to you.

Focus on your mind, while emphasizing your heart and spirit. Make each of these incredible assets part of your daily workout. Think of the combined pair as a vital part of your authentic leadership superset. The more repetitions you perform, the stronger you will become. It’s truly the work of a lifetime, and a priceless gift you give yourself. I can think of no one more worth it than you, and no better time than now. Here’s to some of your most incredible workouts ever!

Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.

 

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Guest Post: Self Leadership—Challenging Assumed Constraints


John:  This week’s guest post is a real treat for three very good reasons:

  1. Susan Fowler is one of my favorite leadership authors.  If you are not already familiar with her work, become so … quickly.  A blurb at the end has a link to some of her best work.
  2. The topic of this guest post is “Assumed Constraints”.  When you finish reading this, you will know why this is an important self leadership topic and a bit about how to avoid falling into self-limiting traps.
  3. This is a nifty way to introduce yet another engaging title from the One-Minute Manager powerhouse.  Read it and some older and very valuable thinking will appear, along with some freshly updated leadership thinking … all in an easy-read, deceptively simple story that will add value to your leadership journey … if you pay attention and use it.

I will have more to say about this exciting new title later.  For now, just sit back and enjoy …

Self Leadership—Challenging Assumed Constraints

Originally Posted on 5/4/17: https://leaderchat.org/2017/05/04/self-leadership-challenging-assumed-constraints/

The negative, almost nasty, comment to one of my LinkedIn posts bugged me. I spent 30 minutes formulating a clever response and then, another 30 minutes trying to figure out how to post it. I could see the man’s comment in my notifications, but when I clicked “check it out” or “join the conversation,” I couldn’t find his comment. In pure frustration, I reached out for help from my Millennial social media guru, Kristin.

Her email back to me: You clicked the correct links to respond. I checked the links as well, and I also logged into your profile to look for the comment notification. It appears that he deleted his comment!

She had come to a plausible conclusion that I hadn’t even considered! I am supposed to be a subject matter expert on self leadership, yet I fell prey to an assumed constraint. I held an assumption that I was woefully ignorant when it comes to social media and incapable of solving the problem. I let that belief limit my openness to another possibility—such as, the man deleted his comment.

We fall prey to insidious assumed constraints every day. The way we internalize facts influences our beliefs that shape our intentions, which ultimately leads to our behavior.

Virtually raise your hand if your manager makes more money than you do. Nod your head knowingly if your manager has more position power than you do. Now consider how these facts influence your beliefs about the workplace, shape your intentions, and ultimately determine your behavior—and your relationship with your manager.

  • Comparing my manager’s power and income to my own, I may conclude: I don’t have the power or ability to affect change. This belief leads me to watch painfully as changes happen to me without my input or participation.
  • I may believe that my manager should know when I need more direction for achieving my goal. This belief causes me to wait for her to provide me with an action plan and the resources I need.
  • Even sadder, maybe I believe my boss should know what I need, but is so self-absorbed, she doesn’t even notice. This belief leads me to resent my manager and sabotage the relationship because I don’t trust she has my best interests at heart.

Assumed constraints are beliefs that limit our experience. Self leadership demands the acknowledgement, exploration, and reframing of assumed constraints.

Challenging assumed constraints by flipping them into statements that lead to positive action is an essential mindset of a self leader. For example, what if I took the assumed constraint about power and flipped it? I believe I have the power and ability to affect change. This statement is more likely to lead to productive behavior, such as proactive problem solving or selling my solutions.

The flipped assumed constraint also leads to an exploration of power: What types of power do I have and how can I use my points of power to proactively achieve my goals and make greater contributions to others?

Research provides evidence that self leadership competencies can be learnedand that organizations would be better served by focusing budgets and training employees on self leadership. But learning the skillset also requires cultivating a mindset to challenge assumed constraints, activate your points of power, and be proactive.

Thinking about my assumed constraint for responding to comments on LinkedIn, I take heart that I proactively reached out to a subject matter expert using my relationship power. I feel confident that the next time I find myself frustrated over social media (probably sometime within the next hour or so), I will challenge my assumed constraints by mindfully exploring solutions I wouldn’t have considered before receiving Kristin’s insight. Then, if I really am stymied, I will reach out for direction and support.

Self Leadership is having the mindset and skillset for getting what you need to succeed. For true self leaders, accepting responsibility and taking initiative for the quality of your work and life experience is a continuous pursuit of learning, growing, and achieving. It is the saga that never ends.

Susan FowlerABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the newly revised bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit SusanFowler.com

Guest Post: Excerpt from The New Leadership Literacies by Bob Johansen


ME:  Anyone who is paying attention knows that the older and even more current theories of leadership need updating to meet the leadership challenges of our digital, connected, and very VUCA world now and into our future.

Below is a short excerpt from one of the best books to address leadership going forward that I have found.  Check it out and see if the writing style and perceptive comments intrigue you.  If so, read the whole book and let me know what you think.

Below:  An excerpt from The New Leadership Literacies, 2017

Leap into the Future

by Bob Johansen

We think we are connected today, but the next ten years will be a period of explosive connectivity, with asymmetric upheaval and very few patterns of change that will be clear or predictable. In this future world of dramatically amplified digital connectivity, anything that can be distributed will be distributed. Most leaders—and most organizations—aren’t ready for this future.

We are on a twisting path toward—but never quite reaching—distributed everything, a path that will be characterized by increasing speed, frequency, scope, and scale of disruption.

Young leaders and aspiring leaders will be more ready for the distributed future than adults. Many young people are in a blended reality world already with constant mobile online filters for the physical world. They are on online, unless they are off. For most adult leaders, we are offline—unless we are on. Quaintly, some leaders today still say they “log on” to the internet. Do we really need to capitalize the word “internet” any longer? I think not and this is the first book I’ve written where I’m not capitalizing internet. It is pervasive already, but this is just the beginning.

Leadership will have to be much more distributed in this future, but most organizations and most leaders are not ready. The tired practices of leadership for centralized organizations will be brittle in a future world that is not only decentralized but also distributed. Firm structures of hierarchy will give way to shape-shifting organizational foundations. There will be enduring leadership qualities like strength, humility, and trust, but the new world of distributed everything will require new literacies of leading. This book will help organizations prepare for the future.

It’s too late to catch up, but it’s a great time to leapfrog. The five new leadership literacies I introduce in this book will show current and future leaders how to take the leap to the future by learning.

 

About Bob Johansen:

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. For more than 30 years, Bob has helped organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future, including corporations such as P&G, Walmart, McKinsey, United Rentals, and Syngenta, as well as major universities and nonprofits.

The author or co-author of ten books, Bob is a frequent keynote speaker. His best-selling book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present was selected as one of the top business books of 2007. His latest book is The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything discusses five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 

 

Guest Post – The Best Reason for Leaders to Cultivate Mindfulness


I like authors that write with passion, intelligence, and even a dash of spunk …

Monica Worline and Jane Dutton have given us a rare gift.  Their new book Awakening Compasssion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations takes a fairly old discussion and updates it nicely.

While most managers have moved (hopefully) beyond Taylor’s concept that we are all just cogs in complex machines, we have not yet fully embraced the idea that we can work like we are playing some competitive team sport like soccer or football.  These authors dare to suggest that what we need is less macho and more femininity in the workplace.  That’s not near all they do, but that’s the direction they take us.  I like the journey.

For a sample of their writing and teaching skills, see the sample below:

 

The Best Reason for Leaders to Cultivate Mindfulness

Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton

Workplaces often silence suffering. Usually the silence comes from fear. We are afraid that expressing suffering will seem unprofessional. We are afraid our difficult feelings will cause conflict or evoke harmful emotions in others. We are afraid of negative repercussions, or we don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves.

But these fears that silence suffering also stifle compassion. And compassion matters at work. It is a portal to resilience, adaptability, innovation, and collaboration. Compassion helps people heal in the wake of tragedy and helps organizations bounce back after downturns in the market. Compassion is a key to engaging and retaining both employees and clients. So how can leaders who want these benefits in their organizations confront these fears and break the silence that keeps out compassion?

One answer is to become more mindful. While mindfulness has become popular recently because it helps us to manage stress, it has other benefits for leaders as well. And cultivating compassion may be the best reason of all to learn to practice more mindfulness as a leader.

Mindfulness is sometimes defined as an embodied awareness of what is changing from moment to moment. When we are mindful, we can see more of what is influencing us at subtle levels. We realize that we are being pulled by tides of fear, time pressure, hierarchy, and stigma that are barely recognizable in our conscious experience. But the pull of these tides is often strong enough to keep us silent. As we become more mindful of our own experience, we realize that others are caught in these tides as well. So, mindfulness helps cultivate compassion for ourselves and for others.

Mindfulness is often taught through practices such as observing oneself breathing, repeating a simple sound or phrase, or using visualization for systemic relaxation. These techniques help us see our active and jumpy mind for what it is, and help us get to the deeper benefits of more calm, less fear, and a greater capacity to remain present with others. When we are more mindful as leaders, we have the capacity to hear and witness suffering without losing our cool. We move toward compassion.

Mindfulness helps leaders cultivate compassion in another significant way. Research shows that people in positions of power are less attuned to the full humanity of others in lower status positions. That means it is easy for leaders to overlook suffering. Even if they care—leaders may simply be blinded by their position. Mindfulness helps leaders take off these blinders.

Mindful leaders use practices of reflection, meditation, breathing, prayer, dialogue, visualization or other tools to restore their awareness of the range of emotions and reactions people are bringing to work. One suggestion we offer in our book Awakening Compassion at Work is to repeat a phrase we learned from our colleague Peter Frost. Each time you are about to enter a conversation or launch a meeting, remind yourself: “There’s always pain in the room.” Once you see and feel the pain people are bringing to work, you will be able to break the silence and unlock the force of compassion in your organization.


For even more thoughtful information about compassion in the workplace, check out the  Awakening Compassion at Work blogsite

Monica Worline, PhD, is CEO of EnlivenWork. She is a research scientist at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and Executive Director of CompassionLab, the world’s leading research collaboratory focused on compassion at work.

Jane Dutton, PhD, is the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology and cofounder of the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. She has written over 100 articles and published 13 books, including Energize Your Workplace and How to Be a Positive Leader. She is also a \founding member of the CompassionLab.

Their new book, Awakening Compassion at Work, available now on Amazon, reveals why opening our eyes to the power of compassion is smart business.

 

Skill Gaps ~ Guest Post by Mark Miller


ME:  Mark Miller is one of my favorite authors on all things leadership.  For a quick taste of his writing style, read the article below on skill gaps, originally published on GreatLeadersServe.com, and then for a bigger dose, check out his new book Leaders Made Here.

 

 

Skill Gaps

Today, I’ll speak to a question that great leaders ask a lot. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t ask it often enough: How do I identify and close skill gaps?

First, anytime I think about skills, I delineate two different types of skills – individual and team skills. Both are critical, but they are fundamentally different. You can work on individual skills alone; it takes a team to master team skills. I’ll offer a few thoughts today on both.

Individual Skills

I think three questions are particularly helpful when addressing individual skills.

What do I need to improve? Sometimes we can get this answer with rigorous self-evaluation. Other times, it will require an outside perspective. Those closest to you can be most helpful when trying to identify gaps. A supervisor, a friend, a spouse, or even a 360 survey can be helpful. Focus on closing critical gaps – those activities required of you to be successful where gaps are evident.

What will help me grow? Identify people, activities, resources and experiences to accelerate your growth. Whether you’re trying to close a gap or leverage a strength, get help.

Where am I already strong? I believe we add the most value in our area of strength. It is where we are strong; it’s also where we’ll have the greatest upside potential for growth. We challenge our staff to close critical gaps if they have any, but we want them to invest most of their time advancing their strengths.

Team Skills

Here are a few questions to help you think about team skills…

What is the work we’ve been asked to complete? The work should ultimately drive the required skills. If your team needs to develop new products, skills around design thinking, creativity and innovation will be critical. If you’ve been asked to sell widgets – prospecting and closing a sale will be much more helpful.

What skills are missing from our team? In light of the work your team has been asked to do, are there obvious gaps? Perhaps you need to hire new talent with a different skill set. Or, maybe you need to cross-train someone on your existing team. As an example, if your team has been asked to manage a Profit & Loss statement for a business, someone on your team needs to know how to read it and interpret it.

How will we work together? This is where a team begins to understand the less obvious skills they’ll need to master together to be successful. Skills such as goal setting, problem solving, conflict resolution and even having effective meetings, and other skills like these will ultimately determine the success of the team.

Skill development is a life-long pursuit. Don’t try to finish it – if you think you’re done – you’re done!
Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.