3 Ways Transform the Workplace By Leading From Within

February 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

We are working and living in ongoing change and unstable times. Nothing is certain and with the increasing technology we can feel overwhelmed, unable to make clear decisions and increasingly irritated with the people around us.

I believe everyone is a leader regardless of title. We lead in our jobs and we lead our relationships with friends and family. The true definition of accountable is being able to be counted on. Isn’t that we expect of leaders? Shouldn’t we expect that of ourselves?

As things speed up the only thing we can control is our own personal responses to what is going on around us. To be accountable to ourselves and to focus on what we can individually control is leading from within.

Here are the 3 ways to transform the workplace by leading from within:

#1- Stop blaming and complaining- we cannot control what other people are doing. We can influence and we can inspire but we cannot force people to change. This is a fundamental component of accountability. The day you can wake up and decide that you will no longer focus on what others should be doing or could be doing and instead focus on what YOU are going to do is the day you will feel more energy, more freedom and more in control. The best way to transform the workplace is for each individual to take personal responsibility for his or her own stuff. Have you noticed that people who take full ownership of their behavior and decisions actually speed things up? So much time is wasted on people covering up their insecurities rather than admitting what they know, what they don’t know and working together to move forward. When you have a problem with someone do not waste time talking about them to other people, Focus on solution and the best way to tackle the situation and then DO something about it. If your boss doesn’t listen to you or does not support you then spend time creating a well thought out conversation that focuses on the realities but not the inadequacies of the boss. If you don’t know how to do this ask a mentor to help you or if you have a coach, work on a role play to come up with an approach. Can you imagine your workplace if everyone stopped blaming and complaining? Be the first to model the behavior and when others complain to you simply say, “I am choosing to focus on what I can control, it’s not fair for me to blame a person or the situation without looking at what can be done to improve the circumstance”.

#2- Get quiet and still- I mentioned that I am a former Type A and control freak but those personality traits don’t disappear overnight. Rather as I have worked on developing my leadership abilities for the past two decades I have become hyper aware of my behaviors when they are reactive and non-productive.

Years ago I knew I needed to tone down the ‘fire’ of my energy in order to be a more balanced leader and to have less stress but the thought of meditating made me itch with impatience. Can you relate?

Fast forward to the past year and I have made daily meditation part of my practice. Here’s what is interesting as I have taken the time to slow down daily for thirty minutes in the early morning and thirty minutes in the early evening I am far more balanced, calm and productive. One of the reasons there is so much negative behavior in the workplace is partly due to the fact that everyone is stressed out. Let’s face it we all have busy lives – the past few years have been highly stressful for me with aging in laws and teenagers turning into young adults. I finally had an extremely stressful week a year ago that caused me to just decide I needed to incorporate calming practice. I also had health reasons, my father, his father and three of my fathers siblings had passed away in their forties of heart disease.

Most of us reach a breaking point or a have a situation where we just decide to be different. Start out just being quiet with eyes closed about five or ten minutes a day and see how this impacts your attitude and your coping skills.

When we model calmness and positive focus the people around us begin to respond and they too become calmer, more positive and productive.

#3- See others are your allies- Transforming the workplace isn’t a one man or one-woman show. The reality is that we work and live with other people. We need each other. When we stop blaming and complaining and get quiet and still we can begin to really like people again! When we think that other people are the problem or that others aren’t purposely trying to tick us off we can get so much more done in much less time. The reality is that there will always be people that challenge us. When we focus on that person as our nemesis it takes a whole lot of energy- imagine what your energy levels would be if you weren’t focused on your nemesis?

If you have a problem person in your life either work related or personal it is time to deal. You must have the conversation that you don’t want to have and ultimately you might have to make a decision to move on from the person or situation. I am currently coaching a VP in a large agency and in our first few coaching sessions she was focused on her CEO and why he was the problem. When I confronted her and asked her to identify how she felt he was preventing her from making progress she realized that she hadn’t looked at the situation from his perspective. She also took ownership of the fact that in fairness he likely had no idea how she was feeling that she was simply irritated on the inside. We worked together on coming up with dialogue points and she scheduled the meeting.

Her fear was that he would react poorly and in fact she hadn’t approached him before for fear of his reaction. Once we sorted out that his nature was never going to change and he would always be difficult to approach she came to terms with the fact that she was going to have to confront him despite his potential negative reaction. She experienced a huge shift when she realized that if she focused on preparing for the meeting and his predictable reactions she could focus on what she needed to communicate rather than his behavior.

She had the meeting- she had pre-prepared key talking points as well as his likely reaction to each of the points. The result? He did get blustery, he did get bullish AND he conceded her points were valid and they established a new agreed upon working partnership.

We each have immense potential to increase our positive influence in the workplace. Transformation is when we individually commit to making our workplace and our personal lives more positive.

Cheryl is the President of the leadership consulting firm Synthesis at Work Inc. She provides practical tools and creative strategies for leaders and their teams to take their current level of success and integrate leadership with technology to increase innovation. The companies that Cheryl works with are top performing organizations with a strong focus on attracting and retaining top talent and focused on innovation. for more details http://www.cherylcran.com/

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