The research on multitasking has shown that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Many people assume that doing two or three things at once is bound to be more productive than doing just one thing. But in reality, there aren’t very many tasks that lend themselves to multitasking. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that multitasking may be one of the biggest time wasters going.
Exercise: Do you know when you are multitasking?
In our last article we looked at some of the ways that people unconsciously multitask. One example we discussed was the practice of editing while writing. (And I can attest to how tough that habit is to break!) But how, when, and why we multitask is very individual. So that’s what our exercise is about today. I want to help you zero in on your own particular brand of multitasking.
Discover When and Where You are Multitasking - Create Your Observation Template
Take a piece of paper or create a Word document (this was you can re-use the template) and add three columns to it. These will be labeled as follows:
Task and Skills Needed
Observations and Places Where You Lost Focus and/or Were Multitasking
Outcome/Plan for Next Time
Step #1: Your Task and Skills
Select one item from your To-Do List to focus on. Write it on your template and also note the skills that you see as necessary for this task. Consider whether this is a task that you think will lend itself to multitasking.
Step #2: Observe Yourself as You Complete Your Task and Note Where You Lose Focus or Are Multitasking
Do this without judgment. Are the skills you used the same as what you anticipated? How do you feel as you complete this task? Do you notice yourself losing focus or being pulled in other directions?
Step back and consider where you are multitasking. Did you let yourself be pulled away from your singular focus? Or did you make a conscious choice to multitask? Be as specific as you can about the additional tasks you worked on.
Step #3: How did this work for you? What will you do next time?
This is where you identify and assimilate your lessons, and then make choices for moving forward. For example, what were the different skills and ways of thinking that were needed for this task?
How might this work?
Let’s say the task you select is decluttering the top shelf of your closet. The skills needed are focus, persistence, and decisiveness.
Next, you get down to work and observe how it goes. Jot down notes and be non-judgmental. Here’s a sample: The radio distracted me. When I pulled everything off the shelf I read through a scrapbook that I found. Then, when the phone rang, I answered it and ended up talking to my friend for half an hour.
Be specific about the places where you split your focus and/or were multitasking. In this case, you might make note of listening to the radio, looking through the scrapbook, and talking to your friend, for example.
Finally, consider your experience, assess how it went, and make some choices about how you might do it differently next time.
In this example making decisions up front about how to manage distractions and interruptions, will help you next time around.
Task and Skills Needed
Observations and Places Where you Lost Focus and/or Were Multitasking
Outcome/Plan for Next Time
|TASK: Decluttering the top shelf of my closet
SKILLS: Focus, persistence, decisiveness.
|OBSERVATIONS: The radio distracted me. When I pulled everything off the shelf I read through a scrapbook that I found. When the phone rang, I answered it and ended up talking to my friend for half an hour.
MULTITASKING: Listening to the radio. Answering the phone. Also getting distracted by the scrapbook.
|OUTCOME: Make clearer, concrete choices about how I’ll handle interruptions and distraction next time.
PLAN: I’ll think before I act. Ex) I’ll turn off the phone before I begin.
Recognizing when you are unconsciously multitasking is an eye-opening and empowering experience. It can have a profound impact on the quality and quantity of your work, as well as on your experience of your moments.
As you work with this exercise, I’d love to hear what you discover.
LET'S STAY IN TOUCH
Do you have comments? Questions? Topics you'd like to read more about? I invite you to write me at email@example.com, or post a comment on my blog.
Until next time, Choose to Lead,
Originally published by Paula Eder, www.thetimefinder.co
It’s a commonly held myth that multitasking offers a reliable way for you to find more time. Intuitively, it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
I mean, if you can do two or three tasks in the time allotted for one, aren’t you being more efficient and effective?
Well actually, no. Research shows that the advantages of multitasking are mostly a myth.
When does multitasking work?
The number of tasks for which multitasking may bring advantages are quite limited. By definition, these tasks need to be ones that don’t require your focus or concentration. The best examples I can think of are tasks that are rote.
So, you might amp up your efficiency by running the dishwasher while unpacking groceries, and brewing coffee. Or, in an office setting you might be able to run a big copy job, collate the pages for a mailing, and stuff the envelopes at the same time.
There are drawbacks to multitasking.
But even with chores that lend themselves to multitasking, your attention is always going to be divided. When you are doing several things at once, one of the things that is lost is the brain’s full focus, on ANY of the tasks involved.
Research shows that the advantages of multitasking are mostly a myth.
Multitasking — it’s complicated.
And the concept of multitasking is more nuanced than you might think. This is something that struck me recently when I read an excellent blog post by Daphne Gray-Grant, The Publication Coach.
The post is titled 7 ways to stop editing while you write. It shines a light on how destructive it is to edit while you write. She notes that when it comes to a task like writing, we use two parts of our brain. There’s the critical and the creative brain. And they approach writing differently.
Are you multitasking without realizing it?
This led me to think about how frequently you may be multitasking when you think you’re focusing on a singular task. Or, put another way, I suspect that many tasks that you view as a singular whole (like writing) are actually multi-faceted.
So, wouldn’t it be helpful to take all those singular tasks and start breaking them down into their component parts? Then you’ll be better able to recognize multitasking when you’re doing it.
What do your tasks require from you?
To do that, you need to step back and consider the different energies, skills, and ways of thinking that particular tasks require from you.
Take writing, as an example.
As I was writing this post I was frequently pulled away from creativity and back toward reviewing and revising what I’d just written. Whenever I gave in to that impulse, I allowed myself to be side-tracked.
This shift of energy and focus inevitably slows me down, stops the flow of my thoughts, and stiffens my creative process.
So, you can see that writing is not a singular task. At the very least it includes the creative energy of the writing and then the very different energy of the editing. So, whenever you fall into moving from one mode to another, as I just did, you are multitasking.
How much are you multitasking in your life right now?
Each time your mind shifts gears you lose focus. This consumes your time and energy. As well, it adversely affects the quality of your time. You simply aren’t as fully present as you might be.
Each time your mind shifts gears you lose focus.
So, I’d like to challenge you, today, to observe the quality of your attention.
• How often, throughout your day, do you engage in multitasking?
• Is it a conscious choice or is it more like a reflex?
And stay tuned. In my next post I’ll be sharing an exercise to help you zero in on the places where you’re multitasking to your own detriment. And then I’ll give you some tips for stepping away from this habit.
Do you have comments? I invite you to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment on my blog.
I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time, Choose to Lead,
- Article previously published by Paula Eder
Perseverance is about as important to achievement as gasoline is to driving a car. Sure, there will be times when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, but you’ll always get out of the rut with genuine perseverance. Without it, you won’t even be able to start your engine.
The opposite of perseverance is procrastination. Perseverance means you never quit. Procrastination usually means you never get started, although the inability to finish something is also a form of procrastination.
Ask people why they procrastinate and you’ll often hear something like this: “I’m a perfectionist. Everything has to be just right before I can get down to work. No distractions; not too much noise; and of course I have to be feeling well physically, too. I can’t work when I have a headache.” The other end of procrastination—being unable to finish—also has a perfectionist explanation: “I’m just never satisfied; I’m my own harshest critic; if all the i’s aren’t dotted and all the t’s aren’t crossed, I just can’t consider that I’m done. That’s just the way I am, and I’ll probably never change.”
Do you see what’s going on here? A fault is being turned into a virtue. The perfectionist is saying their standards are just too high for this world. This fault-into-virtue syndrome is a common defense when people are called upon to discuss their weaknesses, but in the end it’s just a very pious kind of excuse-making. It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with what’s really behind procrastination.
Remember, the basis of procrastination could be fear of failure. That’s what perfectionism really is, once you take a hard look at it. What’s the difference between being afraid of being less-than-perfect or afraid of anything else? You’re still paralyzed by fear. What’s the difference between never starting or never finishing? You’re still stuck. You’re still going nowhere. You’re still overwhelmed by whatever task is before you. You’re still allowing yourself to be dominated by a negative vision of the future in which you see yourself being criticized, laughed at or punished. This negative vision of the future is really a mechanism that allows you to do nothing. It’s a very convenient mental tool.
I’m going to tell you how to beat procrastination. I’m going to show you how to turn procrastination into perseverance, and if you do what I suggest, the process will be virtually painless. It involves using two very powerful principles that foster productivity and perseverance instead of passivity and procrastination.
Break it down
No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s writing a book, climbing a mountain or painting a house, the key to achievement is your ability to break down the task into manageable pieces and knock them off one at one time. Focus on accomplishing what’s right in front of you at this moment. Ignore what’s off in the distance someplace. Substitute real-time positive thinking for negative future visualization.
Suppose I ask you if you could write a 400-page novel. Sounds impossible, right? But suppose I ask you a different question. Suppose I ask if you can write a page and a quarter a day for one year. Do you think you could do it? Now the task is starting to seem more manageable. We’re breaking down the 400-page book into bite-size pieces. Even so, I suspect many people would still find the prospect intimidating. Do you know why? Writing a page and a quarter may not seem so bad, but you’re being asked to look ahead one whole year. When people start to look that far ahead, many of them automatically go into a negative mode. So let me formulate the idea of writing a book in yet another way. Let me break it down even more.
Suppose I ask you if you can fill up a page and a quarter with words—not for a year, not for a month, not even for a week, but just today? Don’t look any further ahead than that. I believe most people would confidently declare that they could accomplish that. These are the same people who feel totally incapable of writing a whole book.
If I said the same thing to those people tomorrow—if I told them, I don’t want you to look back, and I don’t want you to look ahead, I just want you to fill up a page and a quarter this very day—do you think they could do it?
One day at a time. We’ve all heard that phrase. That’s what we’re doing here. We’re breaking down the time required for a major task into one-day segments, and we’re breaking down the work involved in writing a 400-page book into page-and-a-quarter increments.
Keep this up for one year, and you’ll write the book. Discipline yourself to look neither forward nor backward and you can accomplish things you never thought you could possibly do. And it all begins with those three words: Break it down.
Write it down
We know how important writing is to goal-setting. The writing you’ll do for beating procrastination is very similar. Instead of focusing on the future, you’re going to be writing about the present just as you experience it every day. Instead of describing the things you want to do or the places you want to go, you’re going to describe what you actually do with your time, and you’re going to keep a written record of the places you actually go.
In other words, you’re going to keep a diary of your activities. And you’re going to be amazed by the distractions, detours and downright wastes of time you engage in during the course of a day. All of these get in the way of achieving your goals.
For many people, it’s almost like they planned it that way, and maybe at some unconscious level they did. The great thing about keeping a time diary is that it brings all this out in the open. It forces you to see what you’re actually doing—and what you’re not doing.
Your time diary doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Just buy a little spiral notebook that you can easily carry in your pocket. When you go to lunch, when you drive across town, when you go to the dry cleaners, when you spend some time shooting the breeze at the copying machine, make a quick note of the time you began the activity and the time it ends. Try to make this notation as soon as possible; if it’s inconvenient to do it immediately, you can do it later. But you should make an entry in your time diary at least once every 30 minutes, and you should keep this up for at least a week.
Break it down. Write it down. These two techniques are very straightforward. But don’t let that fool you: These are powerful and effective productivity techniques.
This is how you beat procrastination. This is how you get yourself started.
Stress Is A Big Problem
Stress can form in layers. Whether it's entrepreneurial or business related, personal, situational, or just transferred from others you spend time around, it seems that we are dealing with more and more daily stressors. It's important that you understand what your stress looks/sounds/feels like, and even more important that you know how to deal with it. Why? Because stress constantly plays interference, easily fogging your mind, clouding your judgement, and preventing creativity.
We may know that stress is just a back of the room troublemaker, but the truth is that stress is hard to ignore. Because once we let the stress in, it's really hard to get it back out. The goal is that, rather than having solutions in place to deal with the stress, you could train your mind to be a less ‘stressy’ place. And even in the short amount of time we spend acknowledging the stress, it is actually wiring your brain to look for more stress and focus on that stress.
Stress Has Always Been A Problem, Mindfulness Has Always Been the Answer
Socrates would spend hours in what he called deep thought. Leonardo da Vinci would light a candle, lay in bed, and watch the reflection of the candle on the ceiling to go into a deep state of mindfulness. Edison would sit in a chair, focus his mind, and hold a rock in his hand that would fall into a metal bucket if he fell asleep. Einstein thought experiments were exercises in deep focusing of the mind.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is choosing to pay attention in a specific way:
- On Purpose: making the decision to focus your awareness on what you want to focus it on, rather than letting the mind wander. Deliberate choice.
- In the Moment: our attention is focused on replaying the past, or projecting into the future which means our attention is typically not in this moment. Research has proven we have 60,000 thoughts a day and 90% are the same thoughts as yesterday. With mindfulness brain training, your thoughts are calmed until you experience the most silent and peaceful state of your own awareness.
- Without Judgment: noticing our thoughts, and letting them arise as they will, allows us to let go of judging the thoughts as good or bad. When you make the choice to take a breath, focus your mind in the moment, and then allow thoughts to arise, you are open to heightened creativity which opens you to new ideas without rejecting them before they can be explored
All of this allows more space between your old repetitive thoughts, which opens the doorway for your genius to come through. You can call this the Genius Gap. The creative innovators throughout the ages knew this secret. This gap is silence between thoughts and is found in the teachings of transcendental meditation. With a daily practice, you will develop deep relief from stress and anxiety, clarity of mind and a healthier heart.
In addition, there have been over 4,600 studies on the efficacy of mindfulness showing us that mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety, overwhelm, depression, blood pressure, and insomnia.
Some Important Statistics:
- Harvard Research Study: We spend 47.3% of our day in a state of mindlessness.
- Harris Interactive Work Stress Survey (2013): 83% of Americans report work is a significant source of stress.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2014): 50% of employees say stress level is "high" or "overwhelming".
- Forbes reported that 22% of the Fortune 500 companies had Mindfulness Programs in 2016 and that number was expected to double by the end of 2017.
Here's How You Can Be More Mindful
Research has proven that your mind is more open to creativity in the morning. Consider adding a morning practice, to open your mind to creativity. Instead of starting your workday with emails, consider beginning with this mindfulness practice for five minutes. Use the timer on your cell phone.
- Sit up straight in your chair
- Focus on your breath
- When thoughts enter your mind, return to your breath
- If you notice your mind wandering, go back to your breath
My mindfulness practice helps me start my day with a clear head so that i don't carry forward yesterdays problems or anxieties. I am able to begin with a refreshed, clear intention of what I want to create in each new day.
Until next time, Choose to Lead,
How can you tell if you don’t have self-awareness or need more self-awareness? Here’s one clue that lets you know this is an area for you to develop:
Your results do not reflect your potential.
Pay attention to how you respond to each of these following clues. When you consider your results do you feel uncomfortable? If so, it's a signal to you that you need more self-awareness.
Think about how you explain or justify to others why you aren’t further along in your career and developing closer personal relationships. Did you start thinking about the challenges you’ve faced in your life? That you haven’t had the advantages that others may have had, including money or connections or the right boss?
How you respond to this question of whether your results reflect your potential will give you profound insight into your level of self-awareness.
Psychologists say that when people are successful, they credit internal reasons such as “I’m smart, I work hard, and I’m persistent.” When people fail, they blame circumstances outside of themselves, such as bad luck. When they see other people failing, they credit internal reasons, “They’re not sharp enough, they’re lazy, they quit easily” and when others succeed, people tend to look at them and say, “That’s good luck or they had unfair advantages”. In other words, others are successful owing to outside factors.
In summary, when you think about your successes or failures, or those of others, notice how you explain how they came about. This is your first step to becoming self-aware.
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Happiness is not just the outcome of healing, but can facilitate healing. When my mentor and coach first suggested I “bathe in grace” every day, it fell on deaf ears. Many years later, I now understand.
Traumatic states are very magnetic, as are other emotional states that we habitually inhabit. Any state can become home for us, the place we naturally reside. Sometimes these are referred to as “attractor states,” meaning that is where the nervous system is naturally pulled toward. It can be a state of hopelessness, anxiety, or anything else.
Moments of contentment, pleasure, and meaning (the components of happiness) help counter-balance negative attractor states. They provide a different experience for the nervous system, creating more choice. They are also a lubricant to the system, giving us the energy and motivation to what might otherwise seem like slogging through our troubles.
Research shows that positive emotions lead to feeling more resourceful, more energetic, and more sociable, all of which further support healing.
There has been a lot of research on the subject of happiness in recent years, and my favorite book explaining this research in practical ways is The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD. who spent 18 years researching happiness. The suggestions below come primarily from that work.
The important thing to remember about happiness is that it doesn’t come from circumstances. Lyubomirsky measures circumstances as accounting for only 10% of happiness. A big chunk is genetic, but the rest is really from our state of mind and what we choose to cultivate.
Lyubomirsky suggests that you identify happiness-enhancing strategies that may work for you and vary them over time. Here are 10 such strategies.
1. Stop to Savour
You have probably had the experience of doing something you looked forward to and then recognizing it was over and you forgot to enjoy it. This is the usual way we live. Spiritual sages have been pointing out forever that the ingredients to a happy life are right here, if we pause to take them in.
It might be appreciating some part of nature or a loved one or the food you are eating. This is such potent medicine that Lyubomirsky found that those who spent 8 minutes a day savoring for 3 consecutive days felt better a month later.
I like savoring in the moment, although savoring moments from the past and future also help increase satisfaction.
Flow has been defined as intense absorption in the present moment, usually involving a task that takes some skill. Playing an instrument or sport or doing an art form all may lead to the pleasurable experience of flow. It is important to have some activities like this that give you a vacation from your attractor states and usual mindset.
I have expanded this to what I call “flow time,” which is feeling moment by moment for what is “in the flow,” the natural thing to do next. I can’t always do this, but when I do, I find this time very pleasurable (and surprisingly productive!).
3. Practice Gratitude
There has been a lot of press about gratitude, and it is well deserved. With gratitude, we focus on what is going right rather than what we don’t like. At any given moment, there is actually much that is non-problematic, although we take these things for granted and seldom notice them.
Gratitude helps us let go of grudges and not feel so bitter about life, which is easy to get stuck in if you’ve had a lot of hardship. A more advanced practice is to extend this gratitude to include even your hardships, which helps highlight the learning present in those hardships.
You can practice gratitude by pausing to give thanks, keeping a gratitude journal, by including what you are thankful for in prayers, and by sharing gratitudes verbally.
4. Think Positive (or at least more objectively)
Of course there is a long history of positive thinking, and also plenty of evidence of people getting caught in magical thinking. I don’t believe that our thoughts alone create reality, but they certainly do shape our experience.
People who suffer from depression are often caught in a negative way of looking at the world. What researchers call Learned Optimism is a correction for this. People who think more optimistically fare better in times of high stress, because they’re not caught in tunnel vision. Maybe the sky is falling, but maybe something else is happening. This is also the province of cognitive therapy.
Research shows that learned optimism promotes more positive feelings, higher self-esteem, and a sense of mastery.
5. Avoid Ruminating on your Problems
This is also part of CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Ruminating on problems can really sink you. This is not to say that we want to always push difficult things out of mind, but rather to discern when our contemplation of them serves a useful purpose and when we’re just digging a bigger hole.
Lyubomirsky also found positive results when people stop nursing hurt and angry feelings. She suggests cultivating empathy for the people who’ve hurt and disappointed you. This doesn’t mean excusing or tolerating abusive behavior. It means understanding where it is coming from.
We want to work through our hurt and angry feelings without holding onto them longer than is useful.
6. Practice Random (or planned) Acts of Kindness
When we are extending generosity toward others, it helps open the heart. It helps us see others in a more positive light, lubricates relationships, distracts us from our problems, and helps us feel good about ourselves.
Lyubomirsky found in her research that acting kindly on a regular basis increased happiness for an extended period, although such acts cannot be rote. You have to feel it to have it affect you. Other research has confirmed a “helper’s high” that comes with helping another.
7. Act the Way You Want to Feel
This is the well-known principle of “Fake it until you make it.” So, for example, when you act happier, you feel happier. There is even evidence that the body picks up on something like a smile and reinforces it.
8. Cultivate Close Relationships
Having more close relationships helps people feel better emotionally as well as supporting physical health through mechanisms like improved immune functioning. If your relationships are not fully satisfying, look at how you can improve them and cultivate new friends.
9. Get Out and Exercise
A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and boosts self-esteem. It helps regulate the body and get us out of those stuck states.
10. Adopt Meaningful Goals
Goals give us a sense of purpose. They add structure and meaning to life. You want to make sure they are your goals and not just your conditioning, so it’s good to reassess periodically. Ask yourself, What’s really important to me? How am I moving toward this?
These are strategies that have been validated by research, but they aren’t the only ways for you to increase happiness. I encourage you to become curious about how you experience contentment, meaning, and enjoyment, and what leads to these moments. Become a Happiness Detective!
Until next time, Choose to lead!
"The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things."
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Building trust is something anyone wanting to be a successful leader must do. Trust underpins every relationship in the workplace - between boss and employee, between colleagues, and between businesses. Trust isn't something that is inherent; it must be forged through consistent action. While there are many ways to become a trusted leader, they typically have some common traits, known as the "Five Cs."
A committed leader is someone who is loyal to the cause, the vision, and the team. She perseveres despite setbacks, When a leader is committed, she will build the trust of those around her by staying present, engaged and positive. Commitment is the number one thing a leader can demonstrate to build trust.
A trustworthy leader is connected to those who look up to them. They resist the temptation to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind and become neglectful of those who depend upon them. They never come off as distant or detached in their leadership role. They are willing to take some time away from their daily commitments to get to know their team members in a meaningful way. This helps the team to see their leader as a trusted person who cares about them and values their involvement.
A trustworthy leader gets to know their employees, listens to their concerns, and responds in a meaningful way - each and every time. This doesn't mean coddling them; a trustworthy leader expects their team members to perform their jobs professionally. But a trusted leader knows that no one is perfect. People make mistakes, suffer hardships, and sometimes just need to know that someone cares. A great leader "has the back" of each member of their team.
Consistency for a leader is key. A trusted leader maintains a calm and collected demeanour, even under fire. Their staff are therefore more likely to approach them with their great ideas, as well as with their legitimate concerns. By maintaining consistent expectations, and reacting in a consistent manner, the leader builds trust with their team.
A great leader invests time in getting to know the issues, expands their skills, and participates in continuous learning. They don't pretend to be an expert in all things. They surround themselves with skilled, knowledgeable people and rely on their expertise. The leader's employees trust them for being straightforward and honest.
The Sixth "C"
A great leader communicates clearly, concisely, and coherently.
As you develop your leadership practice, applying these “C’s” will increase the speed with which you succeed.
Until next time … ‘Choose to Lead’.
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The caliber of leadership in any team or organization plays a critical role in the levels of success and harmony that can be achieved. Take this Self-Quiz to determine whether your leadership skills are honed to a keen edge.
Directions: Answer True or False as you reflect on your implementation of these beliefs or actions.
- I’ve become more comfortable delegating tasks and managing the performance of others than doing things myself.
- Before committing to a decision, I ask myself if it will serve my purpose. I say “No” to requests for my time and attention that are not aligned with my purpose.
- Coworkers and those who report directly to me trust me and my effectiveness as a leader.
- I successfully enroll others in my vision and influence their behavior at work.
- It’s less what I say and more what I do that affects how others perceive my leadership ability, so I make sure to “walk my talk.”
- It can be daunting to confront the issues, obstacles and people that block success. But in doing so, I model courage, persistence and a can-do attitude.
- I hold myself accountable for my actions and the actions of my team/department. I don’t make excuses.
- I will not be able to please everyone; leadership is not a popularity contest.
- I view problems as opportunities to excel. In fact, I focus on the opportunities in every problem. A positive attitude can make a project or objective.
- I seek opportunities for education and skills enhancement, as I want to continuously grow my abilities.
- Everything in my organization/department/team, both good and bad, is a reflection of my leadership. If things need to change, I need to change first.
- I don’t avoid difficult conversations with those who are not performing to my standards.
- I plan meetings to keep them short and effective.
- I treat others how I want to be treated, with respect and dignity; this includes praising in public but expressing displeasure in private.
- I am open to new suggestions and receptive to bad news.
- I don’t hog credit and kudos but attribute them freely to my team.
- I regularly communicate mission and vision face-to-face to my team.
If you answered True to 10 or more statements, keep up the good work! If fewer, you may wish to hone your skills with a coach.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out for a discovery session where we will look at where you’re at, where you’d like to be and how I could help you get there.
Until next time… Choose to Lead!
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Leadership goals provide guidance for you and your team on where to focus, how to identify a small number of vital outcomes you expect to produce, and how to concentrate efforts to achieve the best results.
How can you support you and your team with goal setting? How do you choose from the myriad of possible activities to take on? How do you avoid the trap of taking on more than is reasonable to accomplish?
Harvard Business Review suggests that strategic direction is a key source for goal selection. We also recognize that an active organization creates opportunities for goal creation through its internal processes, outcomes and personal performance.
Author, Dick Grote offers the following:
Strategic Leadership Goals
Your Company Strategy
This is the first place to look for ideas. Individual goals should support the organization’s strategy. That’s one of the key reasons you set goals: to help the company achieve its objectives.
Division/Department Plans and Strategies
Ideally, your department strategy is completely aligned with the organization’s strategy and breaks the larger strategic goals down into responsibilities for each division. Ask what your team can do to directly contribute to your division’s goals.
Other Resources for Leadership Goals
Comments & Suggestions from Previous Performance Reviews
What did you tell your team in their last performance review? What specific areas did you draw attention to? Did you note areas that would be of growing importance in the near future?
Organizational Problems and Opportunities
Every employee can probably see areas where she can make improvements—where the organization or department can be more effective. Encourage your team members to talk to colleagues, customers, and senior leaders about how to improve processes, products, or services.
Personal Development and Interests
What skills does your team member want to develop? What experiences does she want to gain? The more passionate she feels about the goals, the easier it will be for her to achieve them.
Key Job Responsibilities
Key job responsibilities are the small number of major responsibilities—as opposed to the day-to-day tasks and chores—of a job. While these job responsibilities aren’t goals themselves, they are inspiration for larger opportunities that an individual could accomplish within her job.
Tips For Simple Leadership Goals
- Keep it short - The list of goals should be five or six at most. I suggest starting with a list of 3 key goals to assist in the development of the discipline required for goal achievement. They are the most fundamental and clear statements of the essential responsibilities of the task at hand.
- Keep them succinct - Don’t create elaborate descriptions of activities or the conditions under which the goal is completed. Goal statements should be barely more than a verb and a noun.
- Keep them discrete - Key job responsibilities shouldn’t overlap.
- Focus on outcomes - Don’t include references to the quality, frequency, or importance of performance. The salesperson’s list, for example, doesn’t specify how much new business she is expected to generate, the volume of sales, or the quality of leads. Focus entirely on outcomes, not on how you will achieve those outcomes.
Reference: ‘HBR Tools Goal Setting’; Dick Grote. Harvard Business School Publishing, 2016.
Until next time, Choose To Lead!
BOOK A DISCOVERY SESSION
When unfavorable situations, actions and emotional conflicts happen again and again in your life—same scene, different characters—there’s a good chance you are in the presence of negative thought patterns.
Some examples: picking the wrong lovers/partners, constant conflict with co-workers, chronic ‘debting’ or people-pleasing.
At best, these negative thought patterns cause frustration. At worst, they cause undue suffering, uphill struggle, sometimes even death.
The good news is: you have the power to change these negative thought patterns. Below are some ways to begin to disrupt them so that you can start laying down new, more positive patterns.
STEP 1. Become aware.
No matter how entrenched a pattern seems, the act of noticing begins the shift away from damaging thoughts or behaviors. Put simply, you can't change what you're not aware of.
One way to become aware is to just sit with your thoughts and watch for the patterns. The goal here is to notice, that's all.
In this step, focus your awareness on just the facts and feelings of the patterns. Don't let your mind wander into the analysis of "why" you have them right now, for it will likely try to justify and defend the pattern. You can analyze later (see below); for now, just notice.
Also, ask people you trust to help you see the patterns. Our blind spots are called "blind" for a reason; we just don't see them. But they'll be clear as day to others.
SETP 2. Discover the hidden payoff.
Becoming aware of your negative thought patterns, you see evidence they are disserving, perhaps even damaging, you. For example, your pattern of conflict with co-workers has gotten you fired several times, and now your resume reflects that pattern, too.
The key to interrupting negative patterns is to understand this: we generally don’t keep repeating behaviors unless, on some level, we get something good out of them.
These hidden reasons are known as "payoffs," and they either help you get more of something you want or avoid something you don't want.
In the example above, the person in constant conflict with co-workers could be using the conflict to cover up deep insecurity with his/her work quality. The conflict, in effect, distracts from scrutiny.
Or the conflict could stem from uncensored outspokenness. The person may have an oppressive situation at home, and being excessively frank at work may allow him/her to feel powerful and self-expressed in at least one arena of life.
STEP 3. Look for (and create) positive patterns.
One of the best ways to disrupt the negative patterns that may be wreaking havoc with your life is to also study the positive patterns in your life. For these can be "grafted" onto your negative patterns with great success.
For example, you can utilize the discipline you've always had around working out regularly to stop using credit to finance your lifestyle.
Consider your negative patterns as the pipes to your backyard pond that are old and clogged with mineral build-up. Laying new pipes (positive patterns) could be the easiest, quickest and most effective solution.
Until next time, Choose to Lead,