Leaders primarily are influencers. In order to influence others positively, we must first influence ourselves, that is, learn to manage our time, our emotions, our work, and our life.
I’ve been a student of the work of Murray Bowen for over 12 years and have found it to be the most helpful and profound source of leadership knowledge anywhere. The fundamental concept is Differentiation of Self, which is managing self and understanding self. It’s about understanding ourselves by understanding our family of origin and how that has shaped us. It’s also about how to not be trapped by these influences. Our past is neither good nor bad. It just is. We then learn how to move forward and be present as effective leaders.
Here are two themes under the Bowen Concept “Differentiation of Self” which is one of his 8 concepts. There are:
Anxiety is a trap we set for ourselves, which magnifies everything and moves us into emotional decision making from a thinking based decision process. Anxiety also spreads to everyone else in the culture. We might think that we are good at hiding our anxiety, however others sense it and are effected by that anxiety, even if there’s no awareness of that process. Learning to manage our emotions and staying out of emotional leadership is the first duty of any leader. This does not mean that we can’t care about others and care about their emotions. We must stay out of those emotions, which include worry, empathy, fear, control, and other similar feelings. None of those emotions help the other person and certainly don’t make you a better leader.
Emotion based leadership is a downward spiral that leads to an emotional culture. Set the standard and stay balanced.
Creating a set of Guiding Principles for decision making is a way to stay grounded or centered as a leader. See Day 4 of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader for Guiding Principles and Day 28 for Managing Stress.
Create your personal set of Guiding Principles and use those to manage self. Bowen called this “Basic Self.” When we act out of those principles, then this is what he called “Pseudo Self.” As a “pleaser” personality, I want people to like me. When I make decisions that are not allowed in my personal Guiding Principles, then I cause problems and actually people ending up not liking me and certainly not respecting me. I’d rather people respect me for abiding with principles rather than try to make them like me.
The top leadership challenge I have experienced in over 31 years of training and coaching leaders, is Over Functioning, that is doing something for someone that they can do themselves. We think that we are being helpful, when in fact people resent what we are doing because they are capable of doing it themselves.
The Transformational Leader defines what they can take off their plate and delegate to someone else. I’ll share more about Transformational Leadership in the next Monday Momentum.