According to Dr. Meredith Belbin, "no one is perfect but a team can be".
At the same time, the difference between a leader and a manager is that a manager is a job title bestowed by management, whereas a leader is someone whom is supported and recognised by her team members.
As such, a true leader need to be self-aware of her own strengths and weaknesses, as seen from the perspectives of her team members.
Hence, this month's topics:
This issue's main article is on "Are You Self-Aware of Your Strengths and Limitations as a Leader?", and we will share with you some actual cases how the lack of self-awareness causes unnecessary conflicts and breakdown in communication, and how you can avoid such things from happening for you.
Are You Self-Aware of Your Strengths and Limitations as a Leader?
by c.j. Ng
Chantelle is caught in a fix recently. Her direct report, Tina, hasn't been showing a positive attitude at work recently and Chantelle's been trying to give her feedback to Tina about her recent poor performance.
Unfortunately for Chantelle, instead of responding positively to her feedback, Tina went to lodge a complaint of ill-treatment to Chantelle's boss, John. And instead of viewing the issue objectively, John thought that Chantelle has been mistreating Tina, and intervened in the matter without first consulting with Chantelle. In a nut shell, John transferred Tina to another department with lesser work load, and put it on record that Chantelle needs help in her people management skills.
John's actions obviously upsets Chantelle, whom thinks that she did not do any wrong, but was treated unfairly. She began to think that John is jealous of her achievements, and is trying to make her look bad so as to pass her over for the promotion that was due to her.
In response to John's action, Chantelle decided to be as uncooperative as possible at work.
The Mistakes that Leaders Make
In the above case, it will be clear from an objective observer that:
The above is but one of the many real cases of mistakes that leaders or managers make in a team setting.
The bigger issues are:
In an age where leaders and their teams are more interdependent, and work that is getting more collaborative, today's leaders need to really get objective feedback on how they can be better leaders, and how they can support their team better. In fact, according to Dr. Meredeith Belbin, "no one is perfect but a team can be".
After all, the key difference between a leader and a manager is that a manager is a job title bestowed by a higher authority, whereas a leader is measured by the support and recognition given by the team. If this sound overly New-Age, here are some quotes from the military:
In other words, you can only be truly aware of your strengths and limitations, of the things you did right and the mistakes you have made, through feedback.
How do You Distinguish Good vs. Bad Feedback
Some leaders' concern about feedback is that some team members make use of feedback as a means to provide excuses.
Here are some tips on how you can distinguish between good and bad feedback:
Perhaps the biggest reason that most team members don't give their feedback is that they don't feel safe about giving those feedback. Some bosses ignore the feedback from their team members. Some managers and leaders actually fired team members who tried to point out their mistakes.
As leaders, you don't really have to argue or clarify too much, IF you deem the feedback as irrelevant or misunderstood. All you need to do is to show empathy and gratitude that someone, be they your team member, superior or external partner actually bothered to take time to give you the feedback. If the feedback is useful, use it. If not, simply thank and acknowledge it, and then move on.
In one of the worst real cases, the managing director of a company was so unaware of his limitations, and totally brushed aside all forms of feedback that could have helped with the situation. Eventually, most of the loyal team members who were also key contributors left the company, simply because they were totally disappointed with their boss's attitude.
What did that managing director do after those key employees left? Did he go on to reflect how he could have handled the situation better? Unfortunately, no. In fact, he called those who left the company "Rice Christians", a derogatory term for people who show up to get paid without contributing anything.
Ultimately, it will be the leader/ manager who will suffer if she does not have the self-awareness to know where his limitations are, and how he could learn from his past mistakes. He will get less contributions from team members over time, and will eventually lose out to competitors who are better in harnessing the wisdom of their teams.
Achieving Self-Awareness in an Objective Way
While proactively getting feedback from your team might be a good way to gain self-awareness on what you have done well, as well as what you could have done better. Sometimes, though, you may need a more systematic view of what are some of inherent strengths and limitations, so that you can play to your strengths and then build a team who will make up for your limitations.
The Belbin Team Role Profile is perhaps the only online assessment tool that allows you to gain self-awareness of your strengths and limitations of your team leadership by combining the results of your self-perspective, with the observations of a number of observers who work closely with you.
Based on the assessment results, leaders and managers
Map out a developmental plan to optimise their
strengths, and be aware of their limitations;
Seek ways to communicate and work effectively with
others with similar or different Team Roles
Work with a team with diversified Team Role Profiles
to make it into a perfect team.
If you work in an environment or culture that it is rare
or even awkward for team members to provide direct
feedback to the team leader, the Belbin Team Role
Profile will be a convenient tool for leaders and
managers to gain self-awareness through a 360-feedback
Based on the assessment results, leaders and managers could then:
Map out a developmental plan to optimise their strengths, and be aware of their limitations;
Seek ways to communicate and work effectively with others with similar or different Team Roles Profiles; and
Work with a team with diversified Team Role Profiles to make it into a perfect team.
If you work in an environment or culture that it is rare or even awkward for team members to provide direct feedback to the team leader, the Belbin Team Role Profile will be a convenient tool for leaders and managers to gain self-awareness through a 360-feedback easily.
Power Breakfast Hour: 14 Aug 2013
Are You Self-Aware of Your Strengths and Limitations as a Leader
Why Managers/ Leaders need to be self-aware of their strengths and limitations to be more effective
Real-life case studies on managers/ leaders who are not self-aware, and the negative consequences that follow;
How to improve leadership self-awareness in simple, objective yet practical ways, in all kids of cultural environment.
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PRICE: RMB 200 ONLY!
To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips for Managers:
Self-Awareness and Conflict Resolution
"Knowing thyself" is an in-depth understanding of "who I
am" and "how I am". This understanding of one's self is
the product of the formal and informal experiences of
living life. But, to be clear, this understanding is not
the result of simply "having" experiences, but is the
result of deep, consistent and conscious reflection on
one's experiences - the lessons learned, be they the
good, the bad or the ugly.
Examples of experiences that bring us to "know thyself"
include mid-life crises (which, by the way, are
affecting people at earlier and earlier ages today, no
longer just in middle age), health issues, relationship
issues, career issues, financial issues and mental,
emotional or psychological issues.
In the workplace, organizational awareness is the totality of each employee's self-awareness. Where employees are more self-aware, workplace conflict can be minimal and constructive. But in an environment where the majority of employees are non-self-aware, conflict can be insidious, toxic, all-pervasive and destructive.
When folks' attitudes, beliefs, and values are in
alignment, their behaviours are consonant and supportive
of departmental, team and organizational goals.
However, when one is driven by self-limiting and
self-defeating personal biases, prejudices, beliefs,
assumptions and "stories" - all of which are unspoken
and often unconscious - discord often rules and ruins
the day, ruins the meeting, ruins the processes and
ruins relationships until folks agree to "out the
elephants" in the room and consciously deal with the
dysfunctional behaviours that underlie conflict.
When leaders, managers and supervisors have the strength
and courage to understand and agree that "soft skills"
are the "hard skills" of effective relationships at work
(and do the work that's required to bring people to that
level of awareness), defensiveness, resistance, turf and
ego issues will begin to melt. In their place, people
will begin to feel, and be, freer in their behaviours and
attitudes in a way that fosters greater mutual respect.
The process of knowing thyself begins when one
consciously explores "how I am" and "who I am" when it
comes to "the way I am", i.e., the way I communicate and
interact, with others.
Self-mastery explores things like:
How do I "know myself?"
"Know thyself" requires taking a conscious look at how I
experience myself at work and how I experience my
interactions with others. Self-mastery requires us to
examine the disconnects that exist between what we say,
think, feel and do - disconnects that lead to being out
of harmony and integrity, and to being unethical and
disrespectful (in thought and action) that result in
counterproductive patterns of behavior, and conflict.
"Know thyself" requires taking a conscious look at why,
for example, I need to lie, cheat, steal, bully, gossip,
and be disagreeable, disrespectful, resistant,
non-trusting, sabotaging, discourteous, and insensitive.
"Know thyself" requires taking a conscious look at
"where I'm coming from" and whether "where I'm coming
from" is supportive or limiting to the team, department
and my organization.
People can relate to one another on the basis of a "task
orientation" or on the basis of a "relationship
orientation". Task orientation centres around functions,
roles and business strategies and tactics. Relationship
orientation centres around trust, safety, understanding,
respect and sensitivity.
Effective conflict resolution must rest on the fulcrum
of relationship orientation, on people, not processes.
Organizational self-awareness occurs when the majority
of employees are engaged, consciously, from the
perspective of relationship orientation, i.e., "who I
am" and "how I am" and not solely on "what I do".
A self-aware person is one who examines the quality of
his/her interpersonal relationships in an on-going
manner. A self-aware organization is one that examines
the quality of its interpersonal dynamic on a regular
To be an effective leader, manager or supervisor, this
on-going exploration that leads to supporting people to
actively and consciously engage in their personal growth
would serve us well in an effort to reduce the negative
effects of workplace conflict.
Focusing on the "technical" alone won't do it; never
has, never will.
About Directions Management Consulting
Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.
In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia.
Psycheselling.com is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.
Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.
Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as GSK, InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.
Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Volks Wagon, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.
Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.
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