How to Expand Leaders with the Many-Selves Idea
I’m capable of many responses to the same situation. Some responses are noble and others, disadvantageous and self-defeating.
Smart people are capable of self-destructive behaviors.
I have many selves inside me. I have a compassionate self and an irritable self, for example.
Unpredictable social situations bring out my insecure-self. I might choose to be quiet. Occasionally, I bolster my courage by tooting my own horn.
I’m best when I bring my curious-self to social situations, as long as I include banter. Machine gun questioning feels like the inquisition. Others wonder, “What’s this guy after?” (I’m not good at chit-chat, but I’m learning.)
I have a curious-self, a quiet-self, and a bragging-self, to name a few.
I’m capable of conflicting emotions. I’m anxious AND confident when I step in front of groups.
Fear does good things for me. Fear of failure drives preparation. Fear keeps me on my toes.
The dark side of fear is defensiveness.
It’s self-destructive when I compensate for fear by excluding or offending.
Bringing out the best self in others:
Use the many-selves idea to expand the people around you.
A manager might shine with customers and offend staff. How might an offensive manager bring their customer-facing self to employees, for example?
You might ask an offensive manager, “What enables you to connect with customers?” And, “How might you bring those qualities to employee relationships?”
Maximizing the best self:
When a colleague is fearful, ask, “What might your courageous-self ask you to do next?
When a supervisor is bitter, ask, “What does your forgiving-self tell you to do?
When an executive has a closed mind, ask, “What’s the next thing your adventurous-self might do?”
When a manager is vindictive, ask, “What is your compassionate-self calling you to do next?
What’s uncomfortable about the many-selves idea?
How might leaders help others bring their best selves to work?
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Hi Dan: I appreciate your honesty about yourself, and agree that within each of us there are many response-sets waiting to get out. I find most difficult people who have one personality/response to one audience — and the opposite to another. I’d almost rather have someone nasty to everyone, than kind to one group and completely unsympathetic to another. It’s especially annoying if the response is clearly tied to job title. However, for those who have the usual variety — for Leadership to challenge one side to come out when running into a roadblock — makes perfect sense. As always…..Thanks!!
The 360 degree evaluation is very helpful in seeing, hearing and learning how one (I) can be better by nurturing my strengths and improving my weaknesses.
How might leaders help others bring their best selves to work? I think once you get the opportunity of a 360, self-care makes you a better you for the organization and the team. Natural curiosity about your team is important – the more you know and understand not only what they need and inspires them but what else may be going on in their lives, will give you the tools to support the team and environment.
Ubuntu – “I am because of you.” – Nelson Mandela
What response will produce the best results?
There are times to be compassionate–but too much compassion can be as bad as too little. There are times to be courageous and other times it’s best to hold back and be cautious.
Each situation is unique.
We need to flexible and adaptable in applying our core values and beliefs in each situation. Diagnose and then provide what’s needed for the current set of circumstances. Joe may need some candid feedback on his performance. It may be best to influence Jane by planting seeds for her to consider.
When we get it just right–we are in the sweet spot and you make the most effective positive impact.
And I agree with Mary Ellen. You can’t be mean to one group and overly nice to another. That’s not leadership!
I’m not sure if I would say that I have the ability to be all of those many-selves at any given time, but I do know that I have been all of them at some point over time. Rather than being able to channel into any of those sides at once, it seems more like I pass through them as I grow or as I let people get under my skin. Right now, in what I feel like is my older age, my compassionate self has completely taken over (or maybe it’s just my anti-anxiety meds working). At any rate, I do offer more of my listening self and encouraging self, and much less of my negative self, which is a very big step for me. I look forward to challenging my other positive selves to come forward since they have been silent for so long.