Feeling Like Myself Again
A leader told me he was learning a lot. I asked, “What are you learning?” He couldn’t name one thing.
If you don’t know what you’re learning, you aren’t learning.
I took three years of high school Spanish. When I learned Spanish, I knew I was learning Spanish.
Leadership is a set of skills, behaviors, and attitudes that can be learned. Everyone who learns a skill knows they’re learning.
Feeling like myself:
A coaching client said, “I’m feeling more like myself again.” I’ve been his coach for a little over a year and a half. He’s adopting new behaviors and letting go of strategies that didn’t serve him well.
New behaviors come to life slowly. Old behaviors hang on gasping for breath. Many of us are still learning the patience of letting others solve their own issues, for example.
When I learned Spanish, I had to think about every word. Purposeful practice and feedback enabled the process.
I still remember a few phrases like, “Tengo un gato?” Do you have a cat. But Spanish with a New England accent lacks something. (Thanks to readers for letting me know that the phrase is actually, “Yo tengo un gato.” It means I have a cat. I thought I remembered my Spanish!)
Frustration – intention – practice:
Everyone who grows as a leader knows they’re growing. Sadly, we often sleepwalk through our days repeating the practices that produce disappointing results.
Nagging frustrations tell you it’s time to change. But don’t imagine you will magically grow.
Narrow your focus of develop,emt.
- Turn conversations from problems to solutions.
- Bring up awkward topics.
- Monitor and manage energy.
- Lead vibrant meetings.
- Ask two questions before making one statement.
- Affirm behaviors that align with values.
- Begin challenges by touching base with purpose.
Intentionally practice new behaviors until you feel like yourself again. In the beginning it feels like everyone is watching. You’re a poser.
Growth requires doing things that don’t come naturally.
What’s essential for learning leadership skills?
What skills should young leaders learn first?
I was only saying this the other day to a future leader I’ve been mentoring.
“Many of us are still learning the patience of letting others solve their own issues”
The same feeling you get when you feel you need to do everything if you want it done right.
It really is worthwhile learning patience as a leader. But don’t let patience zap all your forward momentum. Every now and again you need to drive things forward too.
Young leaders need to learn patience, that they only succeed through influencing others to achieve goals. It can be hard to move from personal star to dependency on others.
Thanks Rob. You bring to mind one of the challenges of leadership. The path forward is often a combination of things. You need patience and initiative. You need challenge and encouragement. You need to be forward-facing but not ignore past issues.
Good insight Rob: “It can be hard to move from personal star to dependency on others.”
“What’s essential for learning leadership skills?” – time, patience and correct mentor.
“What skills should young leaders learn first?” – observation and understanding.
Thanks Thinker. I didn’t focus on the mentor/coach side of growth in this post, but growth includes others who know how to help others grow.
I remember a leader that said his mentor taught him to notice things like the interactions of others. Noticing is part of leading.
I couldn’t agree more about first learning observation and understanding. I have a new boss who clearly has not supervised people and does not have a clue about leadership (and having been in the workforce for quite some time, I can say that with authority, but I digress…). He built a check box listing all my job duties and wanted me to state my skill level and rank my level of interest as a means of getting to know me. I suggested perhaps first he observe, listen and ask questions – and per Dan’s reply below, I’m adding “noticing” to the list, which, I think, is different than observe. P.S. He wrote that a simple definition of leadership is ” Seeing what needs to be done and doing it.” Hmph!
Possibly further additions could be ‘acknowledging’, interpersonal skills.
I may be wrong here but I sense some frustration, if so, I can empathize. I certainly hope your “new boss” acknowledged your suggestion and is working with you on it.
How’s about seeing what is being done, how it is being done, why it is being done then see what needs to be done further, followed by doing it, as a modified definition (not re-inventing the wheel so to speak).
Must admit I am not a fan of checkbox only listings, feel that results can be contorted, I lean more to checkbox c/w comments, provides more accuracy.
Apologies Dan, digressing a wee bit.
Introduce your “new boss” to “Dan Rockwell Leadership Freak” blog. Myself, I am not a leader but boy have I found them very interesting & informative.
First, leaders need to do the hard work of learning/clarifing what they truly believe and value.
Second, leaders need to identify the approaches they will use to influence and inspire others.
Third, leaders need to develop or polish the skills they will use to communicate, direct, engage, grow, motivate, and understand others.
Thanks Paul. You said a lot with a few words! The self-awareness side of growth is a about knowing values and beliefs. It also includes awareness of how we actually show up and how we aspire to show up with people.
You said enough to keep us learning for years.
In spite of my surname, I’m no Spanish expert, but I’m learning it via an app. “Tengo un gato?” translates to “I have a cat?” It’s OK, I understood your point in this good post! And imagine how my Spanish sounds with a mix of West Virginia + Maryland accent!
Yes!! Chrisopher. And I forgot the “Yo”… LOL Thanks
Can you say more about number 2…bringing up awkward topics? Number 5 is spot on!
Thanks Colleen. Bring up topics that are difficult to talk about. Things like poor performance, missed deadlines, frustrations, ect. 🙂
It could also be something that makes someone uncomfortable. You might suggest that someone has more in them.
It simply be asking a question that others avoid like, “What went wrong?” Or, “What might you have done differently?”
LOVE this: “Ask two questions before making one statement.”
What skills should young leaders learn first? Service
“If you’re too big to serve. You’re too small to lead.” Rich Wilkerson (drop the mic 😉