Leading with Love

There are just no words to describe emotions after the events of this past week.

Instead I wish to provide a montage of images that I think capture ‘Leading with Love’.

Go with love.

Mary-Anne







When might a strength become your achilles heel?

Strength: 
  • The quality or state of being strong.
  • A good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing.

Optimising our strengths is something we are encouraged to do. In fact many workplaces are exploring these in detail at both an individual employee and team level. The purpose for this development is to ascertain how to get the ‘best’ from people, as well as improve work engagement.

As an example, if a team member is strong in analytical thinking, yet another team member has strengths in social-intelligence, and a project requires detailed, analytical thinking, as well as conveyance of results and recommendations, it would be wise to optimise their combined strengths so each person takes the lead during different stages of the project. 

The thing is, that if over-extended, our strengths can also become our achilles heel or weakness. As an example, someone with the strength of being able to debate, if over-extended, can be seen as arguing for the sake of an argument. Furthermore, someone who has a character strength of kindness, if overplayed, they can become a ‘door-mat’ or rescuer. Also, the person who is both capable and kind can end up taking everything-on for others.

We can liken it to the Goldilocks story. The ‘temperature’ of our strengths shouldn’t be cold/under-played, nor too hot/over-extended, but just-right/in-flow.

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So what are your strengths, both in what you do and who you are as a person?

Where might you be over-extending them?

What impact is this having on yourself and those you lead?

What will you do differently?

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Mistake or a Mis-take?

We know the rhetoric, but what do we actually do when we make a mistake…especially when it has repercussions beyond ourself?

I recently experienced this. I made a mistake that, like a pebble in a pond, reverberated in various directions of my life. 

Initially there was a time of shock where I was trying to fathom just what had occurred. I then went into a state of denial and a bit of quiet blame. My next default position was to ‘attack’ - to push out the reverberations and try to disperse the responsibility from myself. Alongside this I was also in mitigation mode - what could I do to minimise the impact? I then quickly moved into self blame and a whole heap of self-flagellation. Finally I came through to a more conscious thought-processing mode and was able to see a way forward. PHEW!

There are two powerful awareness techniques I like to use when self-situating. 

Kübler-Ross reconfigured the grief cycle around the stages someone goes through during a change process and I think it has merit in this context.

Kubler Ross chnage curve.png

The second frame I like to use to self-situate when going through turmoil comes from the field of counselling - the Emotions Tree. At any one point of my experience, I can locate where I am on the tree… even if it is hanging on by the skin of my teeth; albeit self-drawn ;-).

emotions tree.jpg

All I can say is “Thank Goodness I’m Human!!”


I noticed my patterns of behaviour.

I noticed my default positions.

I noticed the journey I went through.

I noticed how long it took me to work my way through.

I noticed who helped me along the journey.

I noticed what they did.

And I also noticed how long this turn-around would’ve taken me ten years ago.


… And guess what..?

Im real!

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As you go forward into this coming week consider…

  • What are your defaults when the proverbial hits the fan?

  • How would you map and timeline your journey?

  • What holds you in one place or helps you to get unstuck?

  • What do you need to do for yourself when in this situation?

  • What might you call-on from others?

  • When might the word ‘sorry’ need to be used?


Go well :-)
MA

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What a difference a word makes.

This week’s post is short ‘n sweet.

During my N.L.P (Neuro Linguistic Programming) coach training some years back, I learnt that “words are a window to our world”. If we change our words, we can also change our world view (and vice versa). Through our example, we can potentially influence the world view of others around us.

One particular leader I have the pleasure of working alongside uses the phrase “Our colleagues” as opposed to “The Staff”. The subtle shift in language sets a tone of collaboration, inclusion and honouring of all.

  • What does your language say about your world view?

  • What do you want to influence? How might your words and actions lead the way?


Go well this week.

Mary-Anne :-)

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Relational dynamics: "Parent, Adult, Child" Transactional Analysis model.

Part of being emotionally intelligent beings, is our ability to recognise our behaviours and their effect on ourself and others.

Back in the nineteen fifties, psychologist Eric Berne, developed the idea that people can switch between different states of mind—sometimes in the same conversation and certainly in different parts of their lives, for example at work and at home.  Through observations of clients in his clinical practice, he found that these states of mind aggregated into three types which he called Parent, Adult and Child. This model was later called ‘Transactional Analysis’.

Each state of mind has it’s own qualities:


Parent

The Nurturing Parent  who is caring and concerned. They seek to keep the Child contented, offering a safe haven and unconditional love to calm the Child's troubles.

The Controlling (or Critical) Parent, on the other hand, tries to make the Child do as the parent wants them to do, perhaps transferring values or beliefs or helping the Child to understand and live in society. They may also have negative intent, using the Child as an outlet for their own frustrations or worse.


Adult

The Adult in us is the 'grown up' rational person who talks reasonably and assertively, neither trying to control nor reacting aggressively towards others. The Adult is comfortable with themself and is, for many of us, our 'ideal self'.


Child

There are three types of Child we can play.

The Natural Child is largely un-self-aware and is characterised by the non-speech noises they make (yahoo, whee, etc.). They like playing and are open and vulnerable.

The cutely-named Little Professor is the curious and exploring Child who is always trying out new stuff (often much to their Controlling Parent's annoyance). Together with the Natural Child they make up the Free Child.

The Adaptive Child reacts to the world around them, either changing themselves to fit (people-pleaser) in or rebelling against the forces they feel.

http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/ta.htm


During any interaction, we can find ourselves going between all three modes in relation to the interaction we might be having with the other person. If we were in adult-mode all the time, life could also become fairly boring. There are times when we choose to operate as the gleeful child, or the nurturing parent. The difference is that as emotionally intelligent leaders, we choose to be in this mode, and we self-monitor how often we are in each mode.


Within the workplace the different modes can result in some interesting dynamics.

If for example the leader is speaking with someone who during certain situations, goes into child mode, this can be quite difficult to handle. An example would be a leader addressing an issue with someone who chooses to take it personally and throws a ‘tantrum’. Continuing the line of discussion as much as possible (if it is a one-off), or addressing the behaviour are two lines of action. eg: “Hey I’m getting the sense that you might be taking this personally. I’m sorry if that is the case, that is not my intent, I want us to work together to solve this problem”. In this way the leader is stating their intent and inviting the other person to level-up their behaviour so you are both able to operate in an Adult-Adult manner.

Source: http://www.emotionalintelligenceatwork.com/resources/parent-adult-child-model-basics/

Source: http://www.emotionalintelligenceatwork.com/resources/parent-adult-child-model-basics/

Furthermore, we also need to be mindful of what triggers us to move into different modes, and the effect it can have on others. Maybe there is someone who triggers you to go into parent or child mode when it may be an unhelpful state to go into. Becoming aware of these times, and preparing yourself to make a conscious choice about which mode you will operate in beforehand can be a helpful head-start.

As you move forward into this coming week, begin to notice which modes you are operating from and with whom. Start to ‘play’ with different ways of ‘Being’ around those you wish to develop an adult-adult transaction with.

Have fun with it!

Mary-Anne :-)

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Unintentional Minimisers in the workplace

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People can do things with the best of intention, yet they can have a minimising effect on others. For example, This can inadvertently cause ill-feeling and assumption-making in the workplace.

Examples of Minimising behaviours can include:

  • The confident speaker who may often find themselves taking the lead in speaking, discussions or presentations, while others remain silent.

  • The quick-thinker who can immediately promote their thoughts, which can often influence a collective decision.

  • The ‘knowledge-holder’ who can often be looked-to for ideas, which can often stop other possibilities.

  • The ‘helper’ who can stop people from helping-themselves.

For those who experience minimising behaviours, it requires a gentle conversation. A conversation that asks for the person’s support. This may go something along the lines of:

“I love the way you are so confident when you speak, I would like to develop that in myself. When we present together in the future, can I ask you to support me to step-forward and take the lead, then give me feedback afterwards?”

Or

“It takes me a little longer to process my thinking and sometimes a conversation can be over before I get an opportunity to offer my thoughts. I would appreciate it if we could table points for conversation before the meeting. This would give me (and maybe others who also experience this) prior think time”.

Or

”You have so much knowledge in this area. I notice people looking to you for this when we are in group situations. I wonder how we might “draw-out” their knowings as well.

Or

”I really appreciate your help. I am mindful that I need to learn to do this for myself. Next time, can you coach me through the process so I can learn it myself”.

Alternatively, when we ‘play’ to our strengths, we also need to be careful that these strengths are not minimising others from developing themselves.

This requires us to become aware of the impact our communication and behaviour can have on others. This might include taking time to view ourselves from third person perspective, or to seek feedback from others.

So as you step-into this coming week, consider when you might unintentionally minimise those around you. Consider also where you are allowing yourself to be minimised by others, and how you might step-into your power and address this with aroha.

Go well :-)
Mary-Anne

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Hikoi on Waitangi Day

Those who know me know that I like to go on hikoi, walk-about… go-a-wandering. I have a passion for being in nature and particularly climbing hills (the large and small kinda ‘hill’).

My ‘why’ is that not only is it a physical challenge (I am determined to keep fit as I get older), but it is also both a social, mental and spiritual experience.

Even though I choose to do these things often by myself, or in an organised trek where I know no-one, I gain social connections with those I meet. They are often people who are of like-minds, and who are also pushing-through their own ‘stuff’ as they journey.

Mentally it gives me time to reflect, to mull things-over and to come to clarity on many things that have been rolling-around in my grey-matter.

Spiritually it empowers me to be present, to connect both internally and with everything around me. It is what gives me energy and fills my ‘cup’.


On Waitangi Day I decided to climb Mt. Te Aroha. It was an experience that met all four dimensions of hāuora. Physically it was a great challenge. I was able to both pace and push myself towards achieving both mini and the mighty goal at the end.

Socially it was an exquisite experience. As people passed each-other, eyes connected, greetings were given and words of encouragement flowed. There was a melting-pot of languages, ethnicities and walks-of-life. Young climbers extended hands of greeting to the not-so young. People offered assistance to strangers. And at one time someone offered his last chocolate bar to an upset child. The spirit of aroha that the māunga is named after immersed all those that walked it’s sacred beauty.

Mentally this hikoi offered sanctuary and space to let my mind flow. To embrace my creativity and to solve problems, plan for up-coming events, and reflect on what has been happening in my world.

Spiritually this was a journey of love. It was a journey of noticing the beauty around me, the beauty of others… and the beauty within.

As I sit here, I feel a sense of achievement, calm, confidence in the future and a huge sense of affiliation with human-kind.

As I head into the rest of this week, I will be taking the experience with me; in particular the human-connection…the meeting of the eyes, noticing the shared struggle, and the encouragement and aroha we can gift each other.

Mt. Te Aroha - you have lived-up to your name! xo

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Binary or Blended thinking?

Are there times when regardless of topic, you experience a pattern of one-sided conversations with someone who seems unable to see another perspective? This type of communication can be very frustrating.

Known as Binary-thinking, the person holds their viewpoint without taking into account any other perspectives. If of an argumentative nature, they can become the loudest voice in a room, over-powering others. If of a quieter nature, they can come across as stubborn. For these thinkers, there is often an “Or” between two ideas.

This type of thinking is unhealthy for an organisation’s culture. It displays a fixed mindset that if left un-questioned can negatively influence others. Like a gas, it can take-up all the room, until there is no room for others to voice their thoughts. For the quieter members of staff, it can send them more deeply into silence. As leaders we need to create a safe space for all to contribute.

Blended thinkers are instead, open-minded and take into account differing perspectives. They hold their ideas lightly and are open to having their thinking challenged. Not only are they able to see both sides of a discussion, they are often able to arrive at a third perspective. For them, there is often an “And” between two ideas.

How might we approach the Binary-thinker?

  1. Invite them to consider alternative viewpoints by using phrases such as “There may be another way of viewing this…”

  2. Don’t get into an argument with them. Keep calm.

  3. If in a public forum, invite other perspectives, then summarise the viewpoints before moving into the next phase of decision-making which may include a more collaborative approach.

  4. Invite people to share their thoughts in an online space, or on a piece of paper, so even the less extraverted members can contribute.

  5. Approach them 1:1 and state your noticing around their thinking behaviour, then wait for their response before potentially coaching them to insight.

Go well this week.
Mary-Anne :-)

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Transitioning Staff: Sink or Swim, or Support and Strengthen?

Transition

noun

The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

It’s that time of the year when staff return from their break. Some slot-back into familiar roles, whilst others may be transitioning into different roles or responsibilities.

I have experienced completely different transitions within the same workplace.

The first involved entering a new role within a new work environment. Due to the fact that I didn’t have any leave up my sleeve I was expected to be there very shortly after New Years. I was introduced to people, handed a large pile of documents to read by my then manager, then left to my own devices for a week until people started returning from their xmas break. It was then that someone took me under their wing and showed me the ropes.

The second experience involved transitioning back into work after a break. The manager arranged a welcome-back morning tea with my colleagues and we sat for an hour sharing our stories and reconnecting.

The first experience left me feeling isolated, unsure of myself, and lost. The second enabled me to connect, relax and feel as though I mattered as a human-being.


Transitioning occurs constantly and in different forms; from beginning new jobs or roles, to learning a new task, or even changing workspaces. My wondering is, how well are we supporting and strengthening people versus dumping them in it and seeing if they will sink or swim.

Within the realm of ‘onboarding’ - the introduction of new staff to an organisation, the following Australian-based- statistics were interesting reading…

Source

  • As leaders, what are you doing to support people to experience seamless transitions?

  • Furthermore, as educational leaders, what are you doing to support seamless transitions of students into and within your learning environment?

Go well this week :-)












Wellbeing... more than a 'matrix' or a couple of 'quick-fix' sessions

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I am flabbergasted at some of the recent comments made online regarding leader wellbeing within the education sector. Whilst some have engendered robust dialogue, others have been nothing short of arrogance.


In 1970 Joe South wrote the song “Walk a mile in my shoes”, which was later sung by Elvis Presley. The lyrics go like this…

Lyrics

If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside
Each other's mind

If you could see you through my eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you'd be, I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize, and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Now there are people on reservations
And out in the ghetto
And, brother, there, but for the grace of God
Go you and I

If I only had the wings
Of a little angel
Don't you know I'd fly to the top of a mountain
And then I'd cry, cry, cry?

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize, and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize, and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Wellbeing and leadership are complex concepts, let-alone actions. There are many moving parts that need to be considered when looking at how to ‘do it better’. I am deeply concerned that assumptions, criticisms and judgements are being made around what we may not intimately understand. I am seeing these assumptions (albeit, some with the best of intent) being channelled into Wellbeing Matrixes, the offer of a couple of quick-fix sessions to ‘get them back on track’, or various other approaches that I see as being not too dissimilar to colonisation.

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us”.

Marcel Proust.

So, if we were to ‘Walk a mile in someone’s shoes’, how might that look? What might we need to do? What might we to stop doing?

What are their stories? How do you need to listen? How do you need to ‘be’ as you walk alongside them?

So rather than come-in with a pre-ordained way of ‘fixing’ the situation… let’s consider the possibility that we must…

“First seek to understand”