One of the most tremendous truths about being human is how our thoughts, feelings, and desires interconnect.
Through our internal connectedness of mind, body, and soul, we can harness greatness within ourselves and develop each aspect to become stronger and more in tune with the other aspects.
Yet our humanness comes with a flaw, in that we can get our feelings out of proportion to rational thinking. When that occurs, we are governed by only one part of us which, if not checked and balanced with the rest of our being, can lead us and others astray.
Feelings are great for motivation, inspiration, and drive. But many people that live solely off of motivational seminars find themselves flat when they try to be in touch with their feelings much to the exclusion of their thoughts.
This can also be true of those who spend time in fear or worry and let those emotions override their actions. Too many times leaders are led by their feelings, and not their minds.
That is where leaders need to consciously and consistently track their thoughts, and not just their feelings.
REAL LIFE SCENARIOS BASED ON LEADING BY FEELINGS
- A senior executive afraid of unfounded circumstances that calls meetings to solve problems that don’t exist
- A new department manager who is agitated that things are done a differing way than what they’ve done in other companies
- A shift supervisor who is worried that certain company actions mean they will be laid off
- An employee who doubts the sincerity of leadership even though there is open and clear communication
In each of the scenarios, the following feeling-statements took over rational thinking…
- “I feel…”
- “We’re afraid…”
- “We suspect…”
- “I can’t believe…”
- “You don’t see…”
These feelings, without being run through the proper process of thought and facts, can cause wrong actions, disengagement, and toxic culture to manifest. What is needed to happen with each feeling is to manage the feeling-statements through thinking-statements such as the following…
- “This shows…”
- “We know that…”
- “The studies reveal…”
- “Our culture supports…”
- “The reality is…”
- “I have found…”
When you or a colleague start to descend into making decisions driven by irrational feelings, it’s best to practice this two-prong approach as a standard action:
STOP & THINK
By stopping how we feel long enough to think through our emotions and process the facts at hand, one can find a balance between gut feelings, emotions, sound process, and being rational. We can bring our feelings into their proper place, and then use the right feelings to propel our plan of action.
As leaders, we should be in touch with our feelings – and those of our people – but be governed by sound thinking on what we always know to be right. When our emotions take us away from what we know to be true and correct, we fail to utilize our entire selves in our influence.
Fear has its place when it spurs us away from complacency. Excitement is right when it opens the doors to goals and innovation. Our feelings have their place when they intertwine with right thinking to create a stronger rope which we can give our teams to help us pull together.
Be led by right thinking. Infuse people with the right feelings. Help you and your teams stop and think throughout their day.
(images: dynamikhgynaika.gr, anaman.net)
(this post originally appeared in Lead Change Group)
Today’s post is courtesy of Mark Miller. Mark began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do (2007). More recently, he released Chess Not Checkers (2015), and Leaders Made Here (2017). His latest is Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People (February 2018). Today, over 1 million copies of Mark’s books are in print in more than two dozen languages.
What’s the hardest thing a leader has to do? Honestly, I’m not sure.
For me, it varies with the circumstances of the day. However, if I pull up and stop fighting fires and escape the entanglements of growing bureaucracy, I think I might vote for Ensuring Alignment.
Having seen our organization grow from less than two dozen staff to almost 2,000, I can say the task of keeping everyone aligned is mind-boggling. However, regardless of the difficulty factor, I believe Ensuring Alignment is one of the leader’s highest priorities – and one with incalculable returns.
For these reasons, I was not surprised when we began sorting through all we learned from our Top Talent research project about their expectations for their leaders, and landed on this idea of Ensuring Alignment as a leadership best practice. No organization drifts toward a big vision – you drift out to sea or over a waterfall, but you don’t drift to greatness.
Here’s an excerpt from the Talent Magnet Field Guide on this topic…
“When organizations work together, they set themselves apart. Clearly, alignment accelerates impact. Leaders who want to position their organizations to accomplish a Bigger Vision must Ensure Alignment; only then can they harness the collective energy of those they lead. Without alignment, energy, productivity, and impact will suffer.
Picture a tug of war. If leaders can get everyone in the organization on the same side of the rope pulling together toward the vision, their competition is in trouble. When everyone is in sync, not only is the existing workforce energized, but potential talent will be drawn to the team.
Alignment permeates every aspect of a high-performance culture. Leaders know they must model the way and continually work to train team members to embrace the vision, mission, values, systems, and strategy if they hope to execute at a high level. If they succeed, everyone wins. Additionally, they position themselves to be an employer of choice for Top Talent.”
As a leader, you must choose where to invest your time. You can thrash away neck deep in the weeds of busyness or you can make a strategic decision to build an aligned culture. Choose to Ensure Alignment and you will be a step closer to becoming a place so attractive, Top Talent will be standing in line to work for your organization.
About Mark Miller
Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, he joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, Mark has steadily increased his value at Chick-fil-A and has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction.
Today, he serves as the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to over $9 billion. The company now has more than 2,300 restaurants in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
When not working to sell more chicken, Mark is actively encouraging and equipping leaders around the world. He has taught at numerous international organizations over the years on topics including leadership, creativity, team building, and more.
A few years ago the term “gamification” briefly became the vogue trend in business, much of which still exists today in certain manifestations. This was the application of game elements, mostly videogames, into processes to increase engagement, flow, or end-user experience.
As with any new development in new business models and techniques, this approach was both met with success and also mis-applied. Many that made gamificaiton work had infused fun and achievement into their workplace. Others that failed either mis-appropriated the principles or the fit was night right for their culture or business model.
However there is an effective way to incorporate game elements into your business and organization – by using the basic mechanics from board games.
The board game industry may seem like a trivial amusement fad, yet the mathematical processes and strategies that go into design and game play have served this industry well – to the tune of $9.4-9.6 billion of revenues worldwide.
Because of this, we can draw some ideas from their mechanics and find ways to apply them to making our organizations better.
- Social interaction. Board games are hugely popular because they are social by nature. Bringing people together in friendly competition or joint cooperative fun has always caused people to connect at a high level, Creating more fun and engaging social interaction will enable your team to compete and collaborate more effectively and without barriers.
- Minimize randomness. The Eurogame industry which fueled the board game boom in the late 1990s created games such as Puerto Rico or Agricola that were highly dependent on using items other than dice. This minimized the chance randomness and led to a more smooth and balanced gameplay. Companies can minimize randomness by discerning certain risks, constructing a smooth workflow, and designing better processes by beta testing to ensure minimal variables can disrupt the system when things are in motion.
- Worker placement & resource management. As the game Settlers of Catan showcased, these are two popular mechanics that allow people to place their pawns on the board to access areas to their advantage, and to manage the limited resources available to all players to make the most strategic use of what can be gained. An organization that knows where to place their people effectively, and can create solid products and services from limited resources (or superb products and services from abundant resources should they have them) is showing they care not to waste these precious commodities and will consistently have higher returns for their efforts than the average organization.
- Build your engine. In some games, the player needs to acquire cards, money, spaces, and other items in order to generate more cards, spaces and money in return. The classic game of Monopoly highlights this effect. Good companies know that to generate resources and money in smaller efforts that will generate even greater returns on these items more and more as time goes on is an effective means to a great ROI.
- Cooperative experience. Not all games pit players against each other. Some games, like party games or the game Pandemic or Flash Point, will pit players to team up against the game itself to save the world from a plague or a house from burning down. And not all business has to have a one winner condition. Building teamwork, team goals, and team success and developing their skills and talents in ways that individual goals could never do. And even if the team does not achieve it’s goal, the by-product of learning from others and building a stronger culture within a groups will reap long-term dividends.
- Replayability. Some games are good a few times, then become old quickly. The best games have variety built-in, never being the same twice, and always leave room for new scenarios and outcomes to occur. A successful company likewise shouldn’t be a one-trick pony – having a verity of solid people, goods, and services that can provide more to your customers is essential. Even if your organization specialize in a small niche, there is a wide array of service that can support that product, and people that can provide those services. Diversify within your model so your customers won’t get bored and shelf you for something more fun and exciting down the road.
Finding new ways to generate innovative processes and goals for your organization is what every leader works towards. Leadership principles can be found in every place if you look for them. Even in our digital age we can be inspired by bits of cardboard to teach us how to get better.