Recently a new client who I’ll call Karla received some shocking feedback. Her boss let her know that she would not be getting a promotion, a promotion she had been working toward for quite some time now. The company thought she would perform better in an individual contributor role.
Karla was confused and devastated. She had been telling the company and her boss all along what her expectations were. She was seriously considering quitting her job, because at this point, why would she stay?
What happened to Karla happens in business every day. Because she had strong technical skills and experience, Karla assumed that she was performing well. No one had told her otherwise, or if they had, she hadn’t listened.
I’ve written about my experience with the Gift of Feedback previously and how it improved my leadership. But what happens when there is no feedback or when we refuse to hear it?
When Karla started as the director of marketing, she made it clear that she thought she should be in the VP role instead. Every time she met with her boss, she spoke about how great she performed and about her goal to become Vice President.
She was fully expecting to be promoted soon because she truly believed that she belonged on the VP team.
The reality was – she didn’t.
She was unwilling to perform any function that she deemed beneath her. She was also unable to provide support beyond her general expertise because she did not learn the organization’s unique systems and processes. Many people did not trust her or see her as a valuable ally because she did not work to build internal relationships.
To make it worse, she was unaware of how she showed up with other people or her team. Emotional intelligence and self-awareness were not areas that she bothered to think about or cultivate. A leader who relies on skill and experience but does not practice emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, will not go far. It’s a shame too because Karla is an expert in her field. She does produce good work. The company values her experience but is unsure if she will be able to change, which leaves them in a tenuous situation.
How can you avoid becoming like Karla?
Become a more integrated leader.
1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
To increase your self-awareness, practice self-reflection. To do so, some leaders observe themselves in action, others journal or meditate. Another great way to increase self-awareness is to work with a coach to assist in challenging your assumptions.
2. Ask for Feedback
How do you become more self-aware? And how can you use that self-awareness to become a more integrated leader? Self-Awareness requires reflection and external feedback. Myers Briggs and the DISC personality assessments are examples of instruments that can provide insight to begin the internal self-awareness process, but it’s just a start and not as very useful without feedback.
It’s incredibly beneficial if you can meet with your boss for a conversation about the assessment and to gain specific examples of your behavior at work. Ask for feedback about your leadership performance. What can you do differently to be better? Especially in areas such as collaboration, communication, and cooperation with others at your company.
3. Develop Your Communication Skills
There is a reason that habit number five from the seven habits of highly effective people is so well known. It’s because it’s true!
According to Dr. Stephen R. Covey “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
It’s worth noting that all of the seven habits may contribute to becoming an integrated leader, but this is probably one of the most important.
4. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is the foundation of Joy. Everyone can benefit from making an effort to practice gratitude daily. It’s difficult to focus solely on yourself when you are feeling gratitude. Be thankful for what you have, and pay attention so that you recognize opportunities for growth, both challenging and rewarding. Feedback and connection are indeed a gift and worth seeking out. In fact both you and your colleagues will appreciate and grow from connections formed from a place of gratitude.
Do you believe you’re an integrated leader? If so, what steps have you taken to get there?
These are just a few examples of what other leaders do. What do YOU feel are requirements of an integrated, complete leader?
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