Today, on International Women’s Day 8 March 2021, I was invited to speak in front of some pretty amazing power women, all leaders in their field, during an inspiring lunch at Barangaroo. The topic of my talk was based on the insights from the research I did for my book and from interviewing 31 leaders last year for The Shiftability Show. How do leaders shift their leadership and build resilience? How do they Choose To Challenge themselves, which behaviours did they apply and which best practices helped them to make it a success?
IWD’s 2021 theme, #ChooseTo Challenge, is a theme close to my heart and I know as an Executive Coach, a theme so relevant for every leader to keep shifting their leadership .
The 3 top insights I shared today, are my fav topics: Thinking Power & Focus, Adaptability and Decision Making. They are so crucial for effective leadership and if done well, makes your life easier. So that’s why I love to share them again with you.
First of all: you always have a choice. The choice to challenge ourselves or others is more current and relevant than ever. Secondly: when we challenge ourselves, we grow, build resourcefulness and resilience and improve our leadership effectiveness.
How? By Thinking Things Through. I hear the argument “I don’t have time to think” so often. However, thinking things through is a necessity, not a luxury. And it doesn’t need to take long, sometimes we already are so much better prepared with 2 minutes of thinking, reflecting, anticipating. To be prepared for a conversation is not only effective but also respectful to our counterparts.
When change, complexity and pressure present itself, we are not always behaving our best. We tend to become reactive and we fall back on what we always do, as that requires the least thinking time and effort, and let’s be honest, that’s when we feel most comfortable.
When we really take the time to respond well, we might do something differently or behave differently, and it might feel a bit uncomfortable. Because we don’t now how the other person will respond with this new approach. But chances are, if you are convinced it’s the right thing to go about, the other person will relate more easily and contribute to your idea.
By thinking things through we tap into Thinking Power & Focus, Adaptability and Decision Making. Ask yourself: how can I shift my leadership, how can I increase my thinking power & focus, adaptability and decision making to tackle the issue at hand more effectively?
Here are some practical tips:
Regarding Thinking Power & Focus, it’s all about how we manage our brain. Not to perceive something as a threat, as that’s when our prefrontal cortex, our executive, decision making part of the brain shuts down, but to have a calm brain for lateral thinking.
It starts with taking the time to think things through. To step away from our desk and reflect, rather than to just push through and not making much progress. Go for a walk in nature, increase clarity on a matter and have a structure to follow. This will all help to focus on what’s important. And furthermore, meditate and have a mental practice like a morning routine, practicing gratitude and intentions, as this will prime your brain to be calm and resourceful.
But also, flip the thought that you don’t have time to think, to: “When I invest time in having a calm brain, I gain the time and headspace to think”.
Regarding Adaptability, things that help are: Reflect, anticipate and prepare more conversations and decisions by better thinking them through. Listen more. Really listen to understand, not to respond. And summarise what somebody says to make sure that’s what they meant to say. It’s clarifying for both. Be curious, ask more questions on the other’s view point, learn from others, ask for (360) feedback.
And also, manage your expectations: have an open mind and let an outcome evolve. Don’t get too attached to a preconceived outcome, a gradually evolved outcome might be better. Involve others. Reset: start with a beginners mindset, don’t do what you’ve always done, think about what you could do differently. And embrace change: see the opportunities and tell yourself that “Adaptability is the spice of life”.
Regarding Decision Making: Get clear on your desired future outcomes. Articulate the choices you can make and stay true to yourself and your values. And re-evaluate if those values are still serving you. Nothing is more frustrating than when your values are getting compromised, or when we compromise our own values by not setting our boundaries. Use a soundboard, and compare different perspectives. Learn continuously, stimulate your brain and read articles that interest you, also those outside your industry, on LinkedIn, if you can’t get yourself to read a book. And take your time to think things through for best decision making.
Include your mental state and limited beliefs to unpack, to convince yourself on your best approach. And, especially in these times, be brave: speak up, voice your opinion, put your hand up and be authentic while doing that. Get out of your comfort zone and share your train of thought. Don’t tell yourself you have nothing interesting to share, put it out there and let people relate to you or contribute to your statement. It will build your resourcefulness and resilience and flexes your muscle whenever you need to shift your leadership.
I hope this helps when you Choose To Challenge yourself and others, and helps you to reset and refresh. But most of all, think things through on HOW you would do something. And have fun with it!
Keep Shifting! 👍