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

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Guest Post: “Don’t Confuse Motivation With Engagement” by Susan Fowler


Spromo_02usan Fowler is the author of “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … and What Does:  The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging.”  In connection with the launch this week, she has provided some background thinking on an important aspect of her work:  The difference between motivation and engagement and why it matters.  

This post originally published on 9/4/2014 at www.susanfowler.com

 

 

Don’t Confuse Motivation with Engagement

There are tons of data supporting the value of having an engaged workforce. However, researchers have only recently explored how people come to be engaged. How do you improve engagement if you don’t understand the internal appraisal process individuals go through to become engaged in the first place?

share_11The appraisal process is at the heart of how employee engagement—and disengagement—is formed. Every day, people are appraising their experience in the workplace and coming to both cognitive and emotional conclusions: I feel threatened, safe, unsure, positive, frightened, fearful, optimistic, etc. When appraisals are negative over time, people end up disengaged or actively disengaged. When people have positive appraisals over time they are engaged or go beyond engagement to what is called employee work passion.

Engagement is the long-term, accumulative result of people’s persistent and positive appraisals of their workday experience. What if managers could help people manage their appraisal process? They can. But better yet, individuals can learn to manage their own appraisal process daily so they are more likely to experience employee work passion over time. How? This bold assertion is key to improving engagement over time: Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere. Optimal Motivation is experiencing the fulfillment of psychological needs while in the pursuit and achievement of meaningful goals.*

share_10Motivation is the day-to-day, moment-to-moment experience that ultimately leads to active disengagement, disengagement, engagement, or employee work passion.

Managing people’s appraisal process by understanding the true nature of human motivation and helping people shift to an optimal motivational outlook day-to-day is the key to having a positive effect on long-term engagement.

Engagement efforts have suffered as organizations mistakenly focus on creating metrics out of their survey results instead of the appraisal process that leads to the results. People have suffered from actions designed to improve engagement that actually undermine day-to-day motivation. Despite compelling research on the undermining effects of traditional carrot and stick approaches to motivation, organizations try to incentivize people to improve engagement.

Stop using carrots to bribe people to be engaged. Stop using the stick to pressure them to improve engagement scores. These traditional tactics only thwart day-to-day optimal motivation, destroying long-term engagement. Remember, the quality of a person’s engagement is the result of the quality of their day-to-day motivation.

*Optimal Motivation definition by Susan Fowler, David Facer, and Drea Zigarmi

 

 

clip_image002Susan Fowler has 30 years’ experience as a researcher, consultant, and coach in over 30 countries around the globe in the field of leadership. As an expert in the field of personal empowerment, she is the lead developer of The Ken Blanchard Company’s Optimal Motivation product line, as well as Situational Self Leadership, their best-of-class self leadership and personal empowerment program.

Susan is the bestselling co-author of three books with Ken Blanchard: Self Leadership And The One-Minute Manager, Leading At A Higher Level, and Empowerment. A catalyst for growth, Susan also authored the audio programs Overcoming Procrastination and Mentoring. She is a Senior Consulting Partner at The Ken Blanchard Companies, and a professor in the Master of Science Leadership Program at the University of San Diego.