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Leadership Development – A Shared Responsibility

March 26th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

In my last blog I wrote about the importance of leadership development at all levels. And, as I said, it is especially important for people to receive training as they make the transition from being an individual contributor to leading a team. With that being said, it is EQUALLY important that new leaders – and leaders at all levels – proactively share the responsibility for their own development.  After all, “The road to success is not a path you find, but a trail you blaze.” (Robert Brault)  Ya gotta put some skin in the game.

So, what is your responsibility, as a leader, in initiating and continuing your personal development?

First, become self-aware. Spend some time reflecting on the behaviors and skills that have helped you thus far in your career and be honest with yourself about those that have worked against you. If given the opportunity to take a personality assessment, 360-review, or candid conversation with your leader about your strengths and development areas – take it. Gaining self-awareness is the first step on your journey (blaze that trail!) to becoming an effective leader.

Create your personal vision, or as I like to call it, your leadership mantra. What kind of leader do you want to be? Who was the best leader you ever had? What was remarkable about them? In the leadership model I use – Lumina Leader – we look at four domains of leadership: Leading with Vision, Leading with Drive, Leading to Deliver, and Leading through People. As leaders, we should develop competency in each of these domains, yet we tend to operate most frequently in one or two of them.  Here’s a brief description of each. Where do you see yourself?

Leading with Vision - focuses on strategy, innovation and inspiring the team.

Leading with Drive - provides the team with very clear direction and is focused on achieving excellence.

Leading to Deliver - strength lies in planning, follow-through and accountability.

Leading through People - focuses on coaching and developing the team and creating win-win partnerships.

Identify and acknowledge gaps. We don’t often associate humility with leadership and yet, the most effective leaders are willing to admit they don’t know it all. They are continuously learning. What are the areas you need to develop to become the leader you want (and need) to be? Make a list, make a plan, set some goals – create a trail map for your leadership journey.

Take action / be an advocate. Back to the other half of this leadership development shared responsibility.  Once you have your trail map in hand, leverage any leadership development offered by your organization. If none is offered, advocate for it. Leadership development comes in many forms, and the most effective programs are a combination of them.  Learning is a process, not just an event.

In my leadership development work with organizations, I’ve seen the greatest benefits come from programs where we used a variety of components from the following: workshops, mentoring or coaching, assessments, stretch assignments to apply the learning, teach-back sessions conducted by participants, leadership forums, required reading, etc.

When the responsibility for leadership development is shared, with leaders driving their personal development and organizations providing the opportunities and resources for them to do so, everyone succeeds.

Till next time,

Karen

Behavioral assessments, leadership development, learning and development, self-awareness, Uncategorized

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Achieving Clarity and Focus as a Leader

October 3rd, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

One of my goals in the Leadership Workshops I facilitate is to help participants achieve clarity around who they are as a leader, and how that impacts their people and the world around them.

The leadership model I use – Lumina Leader – looks at four domains of leadership: Leading with Vision, Leading with Drive, Leading to Deliver, and Leading through People. As leaders, we should develop competency in each of these domains, yet we tend to operate most frequently in one or two of them.  Here’s a brief description of each. Where do you see yourself?

Leading with Vision - focuses on strategy, innovation and inspiring the team.

Leading with Drive - provides the team with very clear direction and is focused on achieving excellence.

Leading to Deliver - strength lies in planning, follow-through and accountability.

Leading through People - focuses on coaching and developing the team, and creating win-win partnerships.

Once we’ve done some discovery around these domains, we do an activity I call “Developing Your Leadership Mantra.” Originally, a “mantra” was a word or phrase used to help concentrate during meditation.  More recently, though, it’s used in reference to a statement or slogan that is repeated frequently; a truism, or saying.  Although the definition has strayed somewhat from its original meaning, a mantra can still be very effective in helping you achieve clarity and maintain focus.  And clarity and focus are essential to your success as a leader.

Your Leadership Mantra is what you are willing to “own” as a leader. It is created by you and for you. It is an oath that you will live by as a leader. Your Leadership Mantra will help you gauge your actions with your colleagues, your direct reports and your superiors. It also gives you clarity around how you operate in the world. You will make decisions based on your Leadership Mantra. It will serve as a guide throughout the day as you ask yourself, “Does this action align with who I am and who I want to become as a leader?”

Here’s an assignment. Take some time to think about where your strengths are as a leader and what kind of leader you want to be. Then develop your Leadership Mantra. Your mantra should be simple, memorable, and applicable. It should be no more than three short phrases. Once you’ve developed your mantra, write it down, memorize it, and live by it.

And on those days when everything seems to be falling apart or going haywire – use your Leadership Mantra to bring you back to clarity and focus. And if you do that while meditating, so much the better!

Till next time,

Karen

Behavioral assessments, Leadership, Learning, Professional development

Stressed? Time to Evaluate Priorities!

February 22nd, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and…(as if that is not enough) the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared stress a workplace hazard. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually!

We all know that a little stress is OK. It keeps our fight-or-flight juices working, and often helps us get the job done. How many times have you heard someone say, “I do my best work under stress.”

However, too much stress can contribute to a laundry list of health issues, including headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, chest pain, and insomnia. Not to mention how being over-stressed (and no doubt cranky!) can impair relationships, decrease productivity, and increase the risk of accidents. Having too much stress, or as we call it at Lumina Learning, being “overextended,” can even turn your positive qualities into negative ones. For example, someone who is detail-focused and analytical may exhibit “analysis paralysis” when overextended. Someone who is typically creative and social, may become impulsive and overly emotional under extreme stress. And the “people person” who brings harmony to every meeting may suddenly become stubborn and resistant. When Mr. Nice Guy turns into Attila the Hun, it’s time to get a handle on stress.

That being said, the next question is, “so how do I do it?” Start by allocating some time to sit down and review your day, your week, your life. Where and when do you notice your body crying “uncle” via a headache, mood swing, or other physical signal? Can you identify particular responsibilities, activities, people that are stress triggers for you? Is it the unexpected that gets to you, the volume of work, the work itself, or the fact that you never seem to get a break? Write your personal/professional stressors down and then select and prioritize three that you will work on to mitigate. Do you need to have a “difficult conversation” with someone to work through a stressful relationship? Do you need to request more resources to meet a looming deadline you are worried about? Ask for what you need.

And to ease your stress in general, give yourself a break, and do these 5 things:

1. Set boundaries. Establish a time after which you don’t take work phone calls or respond to work emails, texts, smoke signals, whatever. Manage expectations about your “work hours.”
2. Be willing to say “no.” When asked to do something with a clearly unreasonable deadline, or without appropriate resources, explain the impact it will have on your current work. Offer alternative dates or suggest alternative resources.
3. Stop and pause. Do a personal check-in. Adjust priorities, if necessary. Take a break.
4. Breathe. Deeply and often. Consider meditation. Take a walk in the park or along the beach.
5. Laugh. I can’t recommend this enough. Find something to laugh about every day. It’s good medicine.

Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change…Life’s too short to be anything but happy.” – Unknown

Till next time,

Karen

Behavioral assessments, Health, People, Stress

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What To Do When You Are Overextended

October 27th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

OEXWork-related stressors and the maladies they cause, like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and decreased mental health, are more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza, according to an article in The Atlantic.

Additionally, workplace stress can interfere with productivity, impair relationships, and even cause safety issues. We’ve all seen over-busy people walking along – even crossing streets – with their eyes focused on their cellphone and not what’s in front of them.

So how do you recognize when you’re under too much stress – when you are “overextended”? It starts by being self-aware. When you start to feel overwhelmed, pay attention to how you respond to your work and the people around you. When we’re overextended, our positive qualities may actually become “too much of a good thing” causing negative impact. For example, someone who is detail-focused and analytical may exhibit “analysis paralysis” when overextended. Someone who is typically creative and social may become impulsive and overly emotional under extreme stress. And the “people person” who brings harmony to every meeting may suddenly become stubborn and resistant. When Mr. Peabody becomes Attila the Hun it’s time to get a handle on stress.

Oh, right, you say. There’s work to be done and we’re down two people…I don’t want to lose my job…I just need to get through this month and then I’ll (fill in the blank): get back to my family, get back to my workouts, get back to my life.

OK, people. Listen up. Part, not all, but PART of the reason we’re in this environment is that we allowed it to happen. Just like Lucy and Ethel in that famous bit in the chocolate factory, the more we demonstrated a willingness to work more, work faster, sacrifice life balance for the sake of a pay raise or out of fear for our job, the faster the conveyor belt went. The 40-hour work week turned into 50, then 60. Vacations? Who has time? Off hours? What are those? Welcome to our 24 x 7 world of work.

So what to do? I say, let’s take back our lives. Let’s stop the insanity and lean out for a change. Here’s how.
1. Set boundaries. Establish a time after which you don’t take work phone calls or respond to work emails, texts, smoke signals, whatever. Manage expectations about your “work hours.”
2. Be willing to say “no.” When asked to do something with a clearly unreasonable deadline or without appropriate resources, explain the impact it will have on your current work. Offer alternative dates, suggest alternative resources.
3. Stop and pause. Do a personal check-in. Adjust priorities, if needed. Take a break.
4. Breathe. Deeply and often. Consider meditation. Take a walk in the park or along the beach.
5. Laugh. Find something to laugh about every day. It’s good medicine.

"If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it."
-George Burns (who lived to be 100)

Till next time,

Karen

Behavioral assessments, Organizational health, Personalities, Work-life balance

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Ditch the Labels and Discover the Real YOU

October 15th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

SplashforOct2015blogProbably most of us have wondered, at some point in our lives, “who am I?” Or, as Stephen Colbert put it in his recent, comical, quest for self-discovery, “who am me?” However you ask the question, finding the answer by increasing your self-awareness can have tremendous benefits - in your working relationships, personal relationships, career and, well, your life overall.

The trouble is, most of the tools that purport to help us with self-discovery are actually aimed at fitting us into one of their predefined boxes, types, or labels. An example of this is the tool that Colbert talked about on his show – Myers-Briggs (MBTI). As described in the segment, MBTI divides society into 16 personality types. Types are made up of different combinations of 4 out of 8 different preferences: Introversion OR Extraversion (I or E); Intuition OR Sensing (N or S); Thinking OR Feeling (T or F); and Perceiving OR Judging (P or J). In Colbert’s case, his type is: INFP.

There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Can we really fit them all into only 16 personality types?

I’ve been working with people, personalities, and behavioral assessments for more than 20 years. I’ve learned through my work that it’s both limited and limiting to put people in neat little boxes. Think about it. People are a whole lot more complex (and interesting!) than that. At Lumina Learning, we recognize that personalities are not EITHER/OR, they’re AND. You can be an Introvert AND an Extrovert. You can be tactical AND still see the big picture. You can focus on tasks AND care about the people. And you can be driven at times by discipline AND at times by inspiration. It all depends on the situation. You may pull on certain qualities in your job that lie dormant when you’re at home. Or you may have an underlying quality (a “hidden gem”) that isn’t being used right now and is just waiting to be discovered and leveraged. Based on the latest research in psychometrics – the Big 5 – and the best of Carl Jung, the Lumina Spark assessment provides a more comprehensive, more personalized, and more usable portrait of you in all your uniqueness. You are so much more than what can be contained in a label.

That’s what Bruce Kasanoff, Ghostwriter and LinkedIn Influencer found when he took the Lumina Spark assessment. Read his experience here.

Then, if you want to know more about Lumina Spark and how it can help you understand yourself, others, and your full potential, contact me at kcolligan@PeopleThink.biz.

Behavioral assessments, Learning, People, Personalities

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