Profiles International - Victoria eNewsletter   Feb 2009 

"To See Ourselves as Others See Us"                                                                  

Two hundred years ago, when poet Robert Burns penned the words about seeing ourselves through the eyes of others in his famous poem (To a Louse, 1786), he could not have known that they would apply so fittingly today. Today's economy might be very different if only the leaders running some of our most respected organisations were willing to view themselves through the lenses others use. 

 In this new year, we must deal with an uncertain national and global economy. It is a good time for us to reassess our priorities and goals. Instead of looking in the mirror and reflecting on whether the hair is combed or the jacket fits well, a wise leader will look beyond the outer image, go beneath the surface. He will evaluate and look inside his true self.  

Viewing our deeper selves and honestly recognising what we see is a difficult task. Getting to the truth will require the help of others, perhaps many others, since some people know only one side of us. Deciding what we are going to do with the information we get back will require help, too, because it is easier to make no change. If you are tempted to think that way, remember: change is the only way to grow.  

 So, facing two paths – CHANGE and NO CHANGE – let's say we opt for the first one. What will keep us on the straight and narrow path? Here is a plan that can enable change:  

Seek feedback. The only way to know how others view us is to ask. Getting their input can tell us where we are now, which is an important step in getting where we want to go. Honest feedback illuminates our current state and provides a foundation for our betterment. In addition to seeking out trusted friends and mentors, it is helpful to learn from the people you interact with on a regular basis. How do you treat those who can neither hurt nor harm you, like the clerk at the convenience store? The answer could be revealing. 

 Be courageous. Whether or not you believe in making resolutions for the new year is immaterial. If you discover that you behave in ways that make it difficult for others to do their jobs, you have a responsibility to change your behaviour. The alteration might be as simple as communicating in person instead of through memos. Or it might be more complex, requiring you to restructure the way you and your management team do business. Remember that embarking on such a course implies to those who take the journey with you that you are serious about change. To request feedback is not easy, but to seek it and then do nothing invites cynicism. 

 Do not assume anything about your employees. Know them better than they know themselves. New tools are available to tell you exactly who is working for you – their competencies, their weaknesses and their goals. Do not decide that you can apply the same management style to everyone and get the same results. A multitude of different faces greet you when you walk into the department. They are likely to include four different generations, both genders, and different races and ethnicities. In the global marketplace, you will find variations even within identifiable groups. It is imperative that you learn what skills your employees have, the skills they are capable of acquiring and what it takes to keep them motivated. 

 Stay focused. Pledges you make to yourself come with a tempting reality: If you made them, you can also unmake them. The consequences of straying off-course can be daunting, however. One of the biggest is inertia that permeates your organisation. If you start something you don't finish, who will keep others focused? Create an accountability system. Make a list and read it at regular intervals. Or go a step further and give your list to a trusted peer to review with you regularly. Think of your colleague's reminders as a pep talk. 

 Recheck midyear. In today's fast-changing world, a goal that's only a few months old can quickly become obsolete. Examining each item on your list after six months will let you know whether you need to stay the course or readjust. Of course, you may have seen some flaws in your accountability plan and made changes accordingly. Remember that the creation of new goals does not have to wait for a new year. You can set goals anytime. Build a new list as necessary depending on what has happened inside and outside the organisation. 

 Manage frustration. Realists know there are some things they will never change. Smart leaders recognise obstacles and adapt their responses when difficult changes are beyond their control. Keep this in mind whenever you feel caught between harsh choices. 

 Know your limits. Sometimes achievers forget that no one is perfect. Just as an artist is never done with his creation, each of us is still a student of life and a creation in progress. This is not permission to remain static, but we don't need to consider ourselves failures, either. Take the middle path: Admit your mistakes and resolve to do better.  

 As we commit to improve our leadership behavior in the coming year, we must remember that discomfort accompanies important change. But if we do nothing, the return will also be nothing.  

 In today's fast-changing world, a goal that's only a few months old can quickly become obsolete. Examining each item on your list after six months will let you know whether you need to stay the course or readjust. Of course, you may have seen some flaws in your accountability plan and made changes accordingly. Remember that the creation of new goals does not have to wait for a new year. You can set goals anytime. Build a new list as necessary depending on what has happened inside and outside the organisation. 



What Kind of Leader Are YOU?
Take our quiz to find out what kind of leader you are. Keep in mind that leadership qualities can change depending on your role, your manager's leadership style, and your employees' differences. Also, you might use a combination of several styles depending on your team's personality, the type of role you have, and the work issues you face. This quiz only suggests how you might respond to important decisions that you might face on a regular basis.

1. You have two days to make a big decision. You:
A. Decide without input from peers, subordinates or team members.
B. Depend on your veteran employees to make the decision, knowing they will make the right one. C. Quickly convene a meeting with your team members and make your decision based on the prevailing attitude you hear.
D. Prefer to leave the decision to a subordinate, then take credit if it's a good one and stay silent if it does not work.

2. What do employees want most from their jobs?
A. Feeling valued
B. Less stress
C. Being part of a team
D. Shared vision and values

3. Your team misses a deadline. You:
A. Take responsibility, then immediately finish the project yourself.
B. Appoint one or two people on the team to get the project finished by a new deadline they set themselves.
C. Find out why the team missed the deadline and ask for suggestions about what the next step should be, then set a new deadline.
D. Yell at team members, tell the group at large to fix the problem, then stride away.

4. When you have an idea you believe is good for the company, you:
A. Float it immediately to higher-ups in your organisation who can make it happen.
B. Ask highly trusted members of your team to research and test the idea and get back to you with their thoughts, then forget about it.
C. Present your idea at a team meeting and seek opinions before deciding what to do next.
D. It's not your job to have ideas.

5. When a trusted team member is late for three meetings in a row and is evasive with you about the reason, you:
A. Tell the employee privately that you expect punctuality and insist that the tardiness not occur again.
B. Ask human resources to find out what is going on, but request no report back to you.
C. Seek out the advice of several trusted peers.
D. Confront the employee in a public setting and ask in a loud voice why he or she keeps missing work.

5. Budget concerns mean there will be no payrises in the new fiscal year. You:
A. Discuss the issue with no one, but write and distribute an internal memo instructing people with questions to see you.
B. Tell your veteran team members there will be no payrises, and let them inform employees the way they see fit.
C. Convene a meeting of team members, break the news and allow questions. Then ask them for ideas on how to tell everyone else and what your organisation can offer instead of payrises.
D. You never plan payrises in your budget anyway, so it doesn't matter.

If you answered mostly A: A is for autocratic leadership.
Although you get the job done efficiently, you tend to be a bit inflexible and this could build resentment among employees, giving you results that will prevent your organisation's growth (lack of development and high turnover).
Light-bulb moment: Develop some of your trusted subordinates by teaching them what you do so well, and you won't have to work such long hours. You might even enjoy work more!

If you answered mostly B: B is for benign, or laissez- faire leadership. Your style works best when people are old hands at their jobs, and your employees appreciate you for putting your trust in them. However, be sure to designate specifically who is responsible for which projects or they may not get done.
Light-bulb moment: Set firm deadlines and check along the way to make sure you get what you expect. Also, schedule dates for reports to come directly to you in the form (written or oral) that makes sense for you and the team.

If you answered mostly C: C is for collaborative leadership. It's a nice way to make team members feel useful and a good development tool. It also cuts down on cutthroat competition if everyone has an equal say.
Light-bulb moment: If you are a leader who thrives on quick decisions, or if your organisation requires them, find a way to compromise between you-think and group-think.

If you answered mostly D: Your employees probably do not trust you. Do you trust yourself?
Light-bulb moment: One of the first things you can do is to lay a strong foundation by treating others the way you wish to be treated. If you want the responsibility of leading, develop your interpersonal skills in leadership training courses. 



To See Ourselves as Others See Us 



What Kind of Leader are YOU?





Partner Training:
Wed 18th Feb
2pm - 4pm

There is no seminar scheduled for February.





"A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit." – John C. Maxwell, author 


"Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself." – Thomas J. Watson Jr., former president of IBM

"The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it." – Elaine Agather, banker


"Let's be honest. There's not a business anywhere that is without problems. Business is complicated and imperfect. Every business everywhere is staffed with imperfect human beings and exists by providing a product or service to other imperfect human beings." – Bob Parsons, entrepreneur 

"Business is a combination of war and sport." – Andre Maurois, French author



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South Melbourne VIC 3205  

T: (03) 9673 9888      
F: (03) 9673 9898 . 

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