Exeleon Magazine

To Manage Others, Manage Yourself First


Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Don’t Wait for Someone Else to Fix It by Doug Lennick and Chuck Wachendorfer.  Copyright © 2023 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.

If you expect to be an effective leader who creates positive results, you can’t do it alone. You need a team of followers willing to be flexible in accomplishing the mission and goals you want to achieve with their help. In many cases, engaging your team in support of positive goals will mean helping your followers change their behavior. You may need to encourage them to do more of some things, less of other things, and in some cases, adopt completely new behaviors. The catch is that you can’t make people do anything. The only person whose behavior you can control is your own. Therefore, any change in others’ behavior needs to begin with you, the leader, changing your own. You need to manage yourself. If you are not getting the results you’d like from others, you must make different choices. Only when your behavior as a leader begins to change can you influence others to change their behavior. That’s the essence of the leadership logic chain.

The best way to make the leadership logic chain come alive in your pursuit of leadership effectiveness is to follow this four-step process:

  1. Develop awareness of your effectiveness as a leader
  2. Decide to adopt new behaviors
  3. Demonstrate new behaviors
  4. Give those you influence a chance to change their behavior in response

Buy Don’t Wait for Someone Else to Fix it here.

Step 1: Develop awareness of your effectiveness as a leader

Being a successful leader begins with paying attention to what you’re doing, that is, being consistently aware of what’s working and not working in your thoughts and actions as a leader.

Self-awareness is not just a crucial component of the leadership logic chain. It is fundamental to leadership intelligence. And you’ll discover in Chapter 4, “Get to Know Your Real Self,” paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior is vital. For now, try to spot triggers for unproductive behavior, such as times of the day or certain kinds of people. One leader we know became irritable like clockwork every day around 3:00 PM. If her team met around that time, they could count on her being sarcastic and unreceptive to their ideas. Her employees coped by making jokes about “the three o’clock monster.” It wasn’t until a brave colleague approached her about her mid-afternoon drop in civility that she learned to avoid scheduling meetings at that time and to take a 10-minute break for some deep breathing and a healthy snack.

Noticing patterns is another form of self-awareness and one of the most powerful ways to gather information about your leadership effectiveness. Patterns are thoughts, feelings, or actions that you repeat over and over, as if on “autopilot,” in response to certain situations. Some patterns may work well for you as a leader; for example, when interviewing job candidates, you always make a point of sharing your values and asking about theirs. Including a discussion of mutual values during each selection process gives you essential information about whether a prospective employee is a good fit for you and your team. When your values and those of a promising candidate are aligned, you also get a jump start on emotional bonding with a likely new team member.

When you’re aware of successful patterns, you can expand their use to other situations where they may have even more impact. For example, you could use awareness of the benefits of discussing values with job candidates to expand this practice to others, thus enhancing your influence with peers, clients, family members, and friends.

Other patterns don’t work so well. None of us is perfect. We all get trapped in unproductive patterns at some point in our lives. Certain patterns may once have been positive, helping you accomplish important goals earlier in your life or leadership roles. But as you grew and developed, they became negative or limiting.

Negative patterns often persist precisely because they served as success strategies in the past. We were rewarded for following those patterns and in the absence of self-awareness, continued them out of habit, even when they no longer produced successful results. That was the case with Randy, CEO of a large financial services business. Randy was a superstar who rose quickly in his career thanks to his smarts and strong work ethic. But Randy was somewhat of a “Lone Ranger,” conscientious to a fault, expecting far more of himself than others. Eventually, the very conscientiousness that had propelled him to the top took its toll on him. As Chuck coached Randy, he opened up about how overwhelmed he had felt with all that was going on in his firm. “I just feel like I have 15 balls in the air all the time, and I can’t let any of them drop,’ he explained. ‘I don’t know how much longer I can go at this pace. Maybe I’ll hang in there for another five years, then retire because I’ll be all out of gas by then.” Chuck sensed that Randy was about to burn out. So, Chuck suggested, “What if you shared some of those responsibilities with your executive team?” ‘But these are my responsibilities,’ Randy countered. “I can’t just offload my job on them.” Chuck was empathetic. “I can appreciate where you’re coming from,” he said. “You don’t want to overwhelm your team. But have you ever thought about who might want your job someday? Empowering them to do some of what you do now could be a great development opportunity. Sharing your CEO responsibilities might also inspire them to create development opportunities for their own teams.”

Randy sat quietly for a few moments. Then he took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and replied, “It never occurred to me that I might be denying them growth opportunities, that they might want to step up and demonstrate that they could handle more.” Randy saw that he didn’t need to stay stuck in a negative pattern. He could improve his own life and, at the same time, create opportunities for others on his team. Randy immediately started talking about what projects he could share and with whom. Then Chuck asked, ‘Ok, let’s say you’ve done that. What would you do with your new free time?’ “I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly,” Randy said with a big grin. True to form, Randy didn’t waste any time. He enrolled in flying lessons, and within a year earned his pilot’s license, got his instrument rating, and bought his own plane. Empowering others allowed Randy to renew his energy for life outside of work while providing leadership development opportunities for his executive team. Win-win.

Randy’s story is just one example of the need to recognize patterns that become less effective as you mature, and your team or organization grows. When you’re a leader, everything around you is constantly changing. That’s why self-awareness is so central to your success. Some behavior patterns that helped you when you led a team of five people don’t work when you’re leading an organization of 500. Patterns you relied on when leading a group of experienced professionals may not cut it when leading a group of rookies. When what you’ve been doing no longer seems to be working, consider how and why your previously successful behaviors aren’t working for you anymore.

Read the other steps here – www.think2perform.com


DOUG LENNICK, co-author of DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO FIX IT, is the founding CEO of think2perform, a high performance leadership development firm serving small and large organizations in a variety of industries. He has been in leadership roles for nearly 40 years and is widely recognized as an expert in the science of human behavior.

CHUCK WACHENDORFER, co-author of DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO FIX IT, is President of Distribution at think2perform.  He is a renowned leadership development professional and has worked with clients including American Express, Wells Fargo, Comerica Bank, TD Wealth of Canada, Charles Schwab, and others. His insights on leadership have been featured extensively in media such as CNN Money, Forbes, Fortune, and The Denver Post.

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