The issue had been brewing for close to a year. Sue reminded me that she joined the team a few months ago and inherited the problem; it wasn’t her fault.
Sure, I agreed. You didn’t start this, but you’re the leader. What happens next is up to you.
Over the next few weeks, we connected, and I began to understand her default personal leadership behaviors.
Looked at the issue… but not too closely, afraid of what she’d find.
Told herself it wasn’t so bad… and maybe it would resolve itself.
Took a few jabs at getting momentum towards resolution, but nothing that would result in anything messy or a KO.
Then came the point of crisis.
People on the front lines were beyond frustrated and once quiet mumbles of leaving “someday” started to look a lot like a mass exodus.
Things had to be resolved one way or another. Every path forward had effort and pain, but the hardest would be arduous and also have the most significant positive impact on the division.
Instead of peering, pretending and poking, Sue needed to dig deep, recognize her default personal leadership style, and choose to change. Moreover, she had to choose to be aware of when she was falling into patterns that would not serve her or the team. Self-awareness in the midst of crisis is a leadership competency that’s hard to cultivate- that’s why she had a coach to support her.
Are You a Pauser, Perceiver or Pacer? What P’s Define Your Default Personal Leadership?
Turns out, when it comes to leadership styles, most people have a mixture of P’s – default behaviors that define the way we engage, inspire and lead.
As you go through the list, ask yourself: Do I do this? You’ll discover that some you do and need to stop, and others you don’t and need to start, not to mention those that you need to continue. Remember, different situations require different approaches.
There is no one way to lead.
You look in on an issue from a distance hoping that nobody sees you and asks you to get too involved.
You can move agendas forward. Instead of accepting the blow-off, you ensure that critical issues aren’t ignored and important programs don’t die a slow death.
Maybe you send an email to get more information or discretely ask a question or two. Whatever you do it’s easy, and you can say you’re doing something.
You make sure people know about great work that’s happening on the team and about changes that need to take place. You take a positive sales-forward approach.
Worry is a constant. “What if?” is always the question of the day. You don’t create solutions because you’re so busy obsessing over the problem.
Until you’re 100% sure you know the right thing to do, you’re paralyzed. Youresearch, talk to people, research some more on an endless loop and ultimately take little action.
“Head in the sand” is a losing leadership approach. Even worse, reporting you have it all under control when you don’t doesn’t make it real.
There are “let’s put a pin in it” people. Is that you? If you always tell your team that you’ll get to it, but every single month it rolls to next months agenda, be honest, you’re on pause.
Nobody has to tell you something’s not working, you know, you feel it, and sense when things need intervention and when they don’t.
Willing to roll out changes and solutions but not before they’re 100% guaranteed to be perfect? Yup. This is you.
You can talk anyone into anything not because you wear them down by being annoying but because you are gifted at sharing a compelling story to create meaningful change.
A key component of success is hanging in there and refusing to give up at the first (or second or third) roadblock.
We all know “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” leaders. When there’s an issue that you’ve inherited or are the first in line, looking back instead of looking forward is a perpetuator’s favorite pastime.
On the positive side, sometimes pestering is what it takes to get people to take action. On the flip, a pesterer can be like a mosquito that people just want to leave them alone.
This leader likes to look 100 steps ahead at all times and envision countless possibilities. All that imagining and pontificating may feel like action, but it’s not.
Always have your team’s back? That’s a leader who’s using their protector style to help the team. Protecting the status quo and defending decisions that only favor the corporation at the expense of the individual? That’s protecting that’s not serving anyone.
Shit stinks. Still, you may try to convince everyone it smells sweet with your creative spinning and all-hands rhetoric. Truth is, you can put all the perfume you want on it, and it’s still shit.
Sue needed to do some pestering (outside of her comfort zone) and persuading. She also was a perceiver but chose to push down her intuition instead of rocking the boat. Ultimately, understanding her defaults and resistance to new behaviors enabled her to take a crisis situation and find a solution to move forward and retain talent.
Sue had doubters, people who said she couldn’t or wouldn’t – but she did. Why? Because she decided that she was willing to dare herself and not buy into the bullshit that a positive outcome was impossible. She also surrounded herself with people who were willing to help her create change.
Whether you’re running a team or division, the school PTA or head of your household, the Ps that define your personal leadership style aren’t out of your control.
Know this: Things may be hard or awkward or uncomfortable or unsettling, but nothing is impossible.
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