Tag Archive for: authenticity

Volatility Does Not Earn Credibility

Years ago, I had a boss who was emotionally unstable. He was quick to anger and got annoyed easily. He would often get upset about the smallest details. He was prone to irritation and annoyance.

He was well educated, talented, and bright, and when he was in a good mood, you couldn’t meet a nicer person.

But you never knew which temperament he would bring to work.

For a while, most of the team could tolerate his erratic personality, and I was too immature and scared to talk to him about the impact he was having on me.

It came to a head in a financial crisis. When the non-profit’s funding was in jeopardy, he was so stressed that we lost all confidence in him and most quit.

A true test of character – one of the cornerstones of credibility – is composure: poise under pressure. A self-confident manner provides steadiness and stability to those around you.

Three suggested strategies for gaining composure:

1. Acknowledge that losing your temper is never appropriate. It is not impressive or tough. It’s a mistake. It’s weakness, not strength. If you lose your temper once, I’ll be uncertain when you’ll lose it next. Emotional volatility is not only inappropriate, it erodes credibility and trust.

2. Recognize volatility within you. This can be tricky because anxiety, instability, and a quickness to anger can be so familiar we don’t see its effect on others. Be sure to get regular feedback from the people in your life.

3. Get some coaching. Learning to develop composure without shutting off emotions requires a level of precision and skill that rarely can be done alone.

The Acclimatization Of Success

Climbers who have reached the top of Everest say acclimatization takes several weeks when you get over 3000 meters. The idea is to expose the body gradually to higher and higher altitudes, forcing it to adjust, and then returning to a lower elevation that the body is used to, to recuperate.

Without acclimatization, even if you’re in superb physical condition, altitude sickness results. Symptoms of altitude sickness range from a mild headache to incapacitation and death.

I wonder if we need some of the same rigor when we climb whatever you define as your personal “Everest.”

Here are a few guideposts to help you acclimatize:

  1. Define what success means to you. Be sure this is your mountain, not a mountain someone else expects you to climb.
  2. Know your values and stay connected to them. You don’t want to gain success but lose your soul. Be careful that you don’t reach the summit only to discover you’re on the wrong mountain.
  3. Understand the difference between primary success and secondary success. Steven Covey defined the difference where secondary success includes position, popularity, public image, and profit. Primary success is about the person you become on the journey. Don’t confuse the two.
  4. Sustain your character. When your wealth is lost, something is lost; when your health is lost, a great deal is lost; when your character is lost, everything is lost. In an age of secondary success, polls seem to matter more than moral conviction, and what’s on the outside has become more consequential than what’s on the inside.
  5. Festina lente. Festina lente is a classical adage and oxymoron meaning “make haste slowly”. It was adopted as a motto by the emperors Augustus and Titus, the Medicis and the Onslows. Climbing the summit of success too quickly – without deliberate, thoughtful planning and a sustained connection to your heart – can be dangerous, if not fatal.

What’s the difference between learning about leadership and leadership development?

My experience in the leadership development field has taught me that there’s a difference between learning about leadership and leadership development. There’s a difference between listening to a TED talk, podcast, audio book, Youtube video or reading about leadership, and investing in a leadership development experience.

This past week at our ninth Authentic Leadership Academy, we co-created such a transformational leadership development experience.

The Academy is built around three fundamental principles:

  1. Inner harmony precedes outer harmony. Everything flows from inner well-being.
  2. There’s a difference between secondary and primary success. Secondary success has to do with position, popularity, public image, and profit. Primary success is about the person you become on the journey. It’s important not to confuse the two.
  3. Connecting with your true nature and expressing it consciously in your life and work requires the greatest amount of change and makes the greatest amount of impact.

The recent Academy was a manifestation of these principles. We created a community of incredible difference makers who were deeply connected to their humanity. Being with these leaders for three days reinforced my belief that being a good leader is, first and foremost, about being a good person.

What was particularly inspiring was observing the growth of participants who came with their teams, knowing that they can take the learnings back to their organizations.

If you want to build cohesiveness and commitment with your teams or are committed to more deeply and clearly discovering your authentic leadership, I invite you to join our next Academy: November 14-17, 2023 (in-person) or November 28-December 1 (virtual).

What is job security – really?

If you pay a visit to Crystal glass in Cochrane to get your windshield fixed or a window replaced, chances are you’ll meet Amanda. Amanda is one of the most positive, helpful, and enthused people you’ll ever meet. She’s always smiling, always ready to be of service.

For a long time I thought she owned the shop, until I found out she was employed as a customer service professional.

“How do you stay so positive, especially when you are dealing so often with demanding, negative customers?” I asked her.
“My grandma. She inspired me to always smile.” Amanda replied and then she showed me the tattoo on her arm.

“Just before Grandma died, I had this tattooed on my arm. In part to honor her, in part to remember her, and in part to keep being inspired by her.”

“You know you could have a job in a lot of places with your attitude,” I told her.

“I know,” she said. She then opened her desk drawer and pulled out a stack of business cards two inches thick. “These are all the people who have offered me a job since I started working here.”

Amanda reminds us all that job security is an inside job. It doesn’t come from your employer. Job security comes from your employability. If you bring value and the right attitude to the marketplace, the marketplace will reward you in return.

While the best leaders will do their best to make the workplace safe and secure, there is ultimately no true security in the world.

Security is determined by your philosophy, not by the economy.

The difference between intuition and assumptions.

A good friend called the other day and asked if I could explain the difference between intuition and assumptions.

I’d never thought of making that distinction before, and nothing intuitively came to me. However, I think that a summary of our conversation is worth sharing.

Here’s what we came up with:

Assumptions and intuitions may look similar because they are an impulsive response to an external stimuli. However, they are very different.

Assumptions come from your head. They may originate from an emotional place, but they are essentially an opinion.
Intuition, on the other hand, comes from the heart. It bypasses the reasoning mind. It originates from a deeper, authentic internal place beneath thinking or emotion.

Assumptions are judgements, and as such, they are arguable. Intuition originates from a hidden, deep-seated truth from within and therefore is inarguable.

Intuition can surface, usually unexpectedly, from a “pit in my stomach” feeling in the midst of a difficult decision when I temporarily suspend conscious thought. It can happen in a “light bulb” moment where I suddenly understand something or get a good idea out of seemingly nowhere. It can appear when I’m reading non-verbal communication cues to understand what people are saying “between the lines.”

Intuition requires some self-awareness. When we’re in emotional turmoil, intuition generally isn’t very reliable. To attend to this deeper voice from within takes effort to distinguish it from an impulsive thought, opinion, or feeling. It requires some concentration, consideration, and mindfulness.

Assumptions, we decided, are a lazy person’s form of intuition.

Why is it so difficult to apologize for a mistake and why is it important to leadership?

  1. False pride. We like to appear competent. A part of us may think it’s a weakness to show imperfection. We hate to be wrong when our identity and work are based on being right. Apologizing risks falling from the artificial pedestal.
  2. A lack of self-awareness. Sometimes we don’t even know an apology is required because we are unaware that our actions were hurtful. What’s common to one might be harmful to another.
  3. Rationalization. A close cousin to pride, rationalization is about avoiding reality. Justifying that your actions “weren’t that bad,” means you can avoid the hard work of changing your behavior. Without a commitment to change, it’s not an apology, it’s a regret. Perhaps you have a habit of hurting people and know it, but you’re embarrassed about it. And you are afraid or unwilling to actually change.
  4. You don’t know how. We often avoid apologizing because we are not sure of the best way to approach the situation. It takes skill to make an apology and admit being wrong. Sincerity and a commitment to change are ultimately what’s required.

Apologizing is critical to leadership for four reasons:

  1. Leaders are always failing somebody. While you’ll never please everybody, if you aren’t willing to apologize, people won’t connect to your humanness and won’t trust you.
  2. False pride never inspired anyone. Being unwilling to acknowledge your mistakes keeps you in the ivory tower of your superiority. Leadership is about working with people, not above them.
  3. Leaders require self-awareness. If we don’t see our blind spots, we can’t grow. And if we aren’t learning and growing, we can’t expect those around us to feel safe enough to engage fully and bring their whole self to what they do.
  4. People feel valued and respected when you apologize to them.