Cultivating leadership composure

Cultivating leadership composure is an aspect of leadership development which does not get too much explicit attention. Yet, as we face ever increasing demands on our time, constantly interrupted with technology, this is becoming a leadership differentiator.

Can we remain composed and focus our attention on matters that are most important on a day to day basis?

One way of cultivating such composure is through a coaching engagement, where you have the opportunity at regular intervals to step off the treadmill, explore the challenges you are facing with a ‘thinking partner’ and consider what is most important to focus your attention on so you can maximise your effectiveness. We are on auto-pilot so much of the time, going from meeting to meeting whilst we drive results. I along with many leadership development professionals are advocating ‘conscious leadership development’ where we endeavour to lead in a more conscious way, understanding our impact on others, making conscious decisions at every moment available to us and understanding our triggers and how we can best manage them.

If this resonates with you, you might be interested in exploring a coaching engagement with me, or one of the leadership programmes I am involved with:

Law Society of Ireland

Institute of Banking Executive Education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership and well-being

Being composed is a hugely important element of leading effectively, being grounded and leading in a conscious way, whilst minimising our reactions to our triggers. That’s pretty easy to write down, but so hard to do especially when we meet unanticipated challenges every day of the week.

business-meditation1Image Source: http://maybusch.com/5-ideas-for-keeping-your-composure/

 

I was reflecting on how such leadership composure can be cultivated and I came across some really interesting resources. This particular post will focus on the well-being element, with more to follow…

We all know that it is so much harder to be composed when we are under stress or not feeling well. Nurturing our well-being is an underrated aspect of leadership. I would like you now to reflect on your own well-being.

I have three simple questions which I would like you to slowly consider. I am a big fan of keeping a reflective diary when developing our leadership capacity. This could be the first exercise to note in your reflective diary.

  • What does well-being mean to you? (e.g. when you are in a really good state of well-being, what does that look like for you?)
  • How would you rate your well-being right now on a scale of 1- 10?
  • What actions could you consider taking that would improve your well-being by just one point? (Consider your sleep patterns, healthy eating, family time, ‘off-time’, exercise, yoga, meditation, being close to nature or anything else that resonates with you personally).

 

(Questions borrowed and adapted from Dr. Mia Leijssen of University of Leuven).

What Leadership can learn from ‘Clowning’

If your reaction to this blog title was disbelief at the possibility of a connection, then read on…. I felt the same! A few years ago a colleague a friend of mine mentioned that she did her master’s thesis on this topic and it conjured up images of a circus act which didn’t connect in any favourable way in my mind with leadership.

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My colleague, Annick runs a leadership development business in Geneva and I admire her for bringing her personal passions (both clowning and sailing) to her work. I signed up to one of her ‘leadership labs‘ a couple of years ago as the use of theatre for leadership development was definitely unknown territory for me.

What did I learn? I was astounded at what leadership and clowning have in common. When I say ‘clown’, think Marcel Marceau and explore some of these possible connections.

  • The need for a strong presence
  • Visibility and exposure (good and bad) that results from putting yourself out there
  • An ability to connect
  • Being in the moment… being able to be fully present and aware of events and possible consequences as they happen
  • Adaptability to whatever the environment presents
  • Ability to feel the mood
  • Not taking oneself too seriously.

The leadership lab I took part in was a fascinating experience for me personally and taught me to broaden my perspectives. By stepping into a space I was less familiar with, I learnt.

 

Annick is now taking this another step further and she has a new value propositions ‘the corporate jester’. If you have a conference or meeting coming up and you are looking for something a little different, this is definitely one to be explored. Annick brings her character ‘Margret’ to an event and through use of humour and play, she can:

  • Raise awareness of existing patterns, behaviours and habits in a non-traditional way.
  • Bring across key messages, even on sensitive topics, in a light hearted yet memorable manner
  • Demystify issues, complex or sensitive topics in a humorous way.
  • Raise awareness of existing defense mechanism and stimulate readiness to change of behaviours,
  • Suggest alternatives & different ways of looking at things
  • Generate a sense of togetherness, connecting people around the common issues without blame, motivating them to work together in the same direction.

I look forward to seeing Margret in action in Ireland!

 

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Exciting new Leadership Programme for those in the legal and financial services fields

The Law Society of Ireland is launching a brand new Leadership Programme for those with ten plus years experience in Law or Finance. The programme will comprise group learning as well 1-1 coaching sessions which are tailored to your specific learning agenda.

I am delighted to be involved in this programme. For further details click here for the brochure or get in touch for more information.

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Assumptions and the ladder of inference

In the last two weeks I became aware of 3 assumptions which I made which were perfectly reasonable, but also perfectly wrong. It reminded me of the pictures used to illustrate Gestalt theory for example the one below:

gestalt picture

Picture source: http://www.curiositiesbydickens.com/2012/03/

Sometimes we only see a part of the picture but sub-consciously complete it using our assumptions, leading to a correct or often an incorrect completion of the picture. Being conscious of this process is really powerful in understanding how we make sense of the world.  It enables us to challenge the lens through which we view situations and gain different perspectives which can then inform our decisions.

To help with understanding this, I would like to share a model developed by Chris Agyris and Peter Senge called the ‘ladder of inference’ which a colleague reminded me of recently (thank you Annick!).

Ladder_F1

Picture source: http://www.processexcellencenetwork.com/lean-six-sigma-business-transformation/columns/working-the-ladder-of-inference-part-1/

Imagine an interaction between two people. At the very bottom of this ladder, we consider the ‘observable data’. This is the data that a video recorder would record if there in the moment. It is the solid ground on which the ladder is positioned. From this data then, we select the a sub-set of data that we believe is relevant to us and this will be different for all of us. No doubt we all have recollections of conversations where different people remember completely different things from a meeting. The data we notice is that which typically fits with our views of the world. It helps to simplify the situation so we can make sense of it. At this stage as we can see, we are already restricting our data-set and seeing a narrow view of the reality.

From there we add meaning based on our personal history, experience culture etc. and then this is where we start to make assumptions. As we go up the ladder further we see that this leads us to drawing conclusions based on these assumptions and ultimately taking actions based on beliefs (which are often times firmly held).

So we go from the solid ground of observable data, up the ladder of inference and end up with firmly held beliefs which are based on restricted data, meaning being added, assumptions being made and conclusions being drawn.

This process is crucial to us not being over-whelmed when trying to make sense of situations. We do this on auto-pilot. What has been really interesting for me recently is to walk through this ladder to understand where my assumptions went astray almost in slow motion. What part of the picture was I not seeing? What meaning did I add based on my personal history that I need to re-think in the future? All of this can help us understand the lens we use to view the world and how we might broaden our perspectives.

 

Once again in my opinion, the greatest learning comes from situations which are not neat and orderly, but those that challenge our thinking!