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Leadership by Design: Leadership

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Finding HappineLeadership by Design: Leadershipss at Work

By Dotun Merino

Few people are actually born to leadership. Most people have to learn how to become good leaders. One important aspect of good leadership is knowing what you are trying to lead others to. This involves careful consideration beforehand.

Having a plan means that you know what the end result should look like. This can apply to your work environment, the culture, or what you expect from your employees. By having a clear idea of what you want from your employees and what you want from yourself, you put yourself in a better position to plan how to meet your goals.

In addition to company-wide goals, each leader of a team should have specific goals for their team that complement the company’s goals. These goals can inform how you make policy and what kind of team culture you foster. If you have ever been involved in meetings or team building exercises that have seemed to be fun but ultimately pointless or a waste of time, you can understand the need to have clear goals to strive for. Then activities such as meetings, exercises, or other activities assume a greater importance. In order to be effective at setting and reaching goals, it is helpful to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym:

Specific. When you establish specific goals for your team rather than general goals, you are far more likely to follow through.

Measurable. One of the reasons for making a goal specific is so you can measure what the successful completion of that goal looks like, an important aspect of beginning with the end in mind.

Achievable. If a goal is too easy, it can also be easy to justify giving up on it because it’s not important enough. Make sure you set goals for your team that are challenging but achievable.

Realistic. While being ambitious can help you to achieve large goals, being too ambitious can often lead to rebellion, both in your team and in yourself.

Time-targeted. When you decide on setting a goal, you must also decide on when you expect your team to achieve that goal. You must be specific. This allows you to organize your goal-achieving behavior with a deadline.

In addition to being SMART about goal setting, there are some other steps you can take that will help you remain committed to achieving your goals.

Tell someone else about your goal. This will help to keep you accountable and committed.

READ ALSO: Why We’ll Stay In Power For Another 32 Years – APC

When appropriate, divide your team goals into smaller milestones. When you collectively reach a milestone, reward your team. Small rewards can help your team to stay enthusiastic.

If your team fails to meet a milestone, don’t use this as an occasion to beat them or yourself up or to give up. Instead, determine where and how you failed and how to avoid doing so in the future. Most importantly, don’t give up.

Perhaps the single most important step is to choose a goal that is meaningful to you, your team, and to the company.

Setting goals for yourself, your team, and in some cases your company are important aspects of developing a plan for your leadership. However, on another level, these goals are actually not as big picture as you can get. To really understand how you can lead others, you must account for your own values and the company’s values as well. When you have a good grasp on what is important to you, this can clarify when to stand your ground and when to relent when you disagree with others, which is a position you will find yourself in often as a leader.

Values are not the same as morals and ethics. In fact, what you value is both unique to you and can change over time. How can you know what you value? The following steps can help:

Identify one of your happiest moments in your life. Who were you with? What were you doing? What factors contributed to your happiness?
Identify one of your proudest moments in life. Was this a shared experience? With whom? What elements in the experience made you feel proud?
Identify one of your most fulfilling moments. Rather than a happiest moment, this would be when you felt the greatest sense of satisfaction. What need was fulfilled?

When you work on determining your core values, identifying anywhere from 5-10 values should be sufficient. More than 10 can make decision making too confusing.

When values are in conflict, identifying which ones take precedent can help clarify your thinking in these moments.

Since your values can change, reassessment on a regular basis can help you to determine if these values still apply. Ask yourself if you are proud, happy, and fulfilled by these values. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable identifying your core values to another human being. If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you should probably reassess.

While it is both possible and likely to value other people, this may not be as helpful as valuing abstract principles which exist outside of individuals. Principles such as honesty, adventurousness, etc., can serve as signposts for your behavior and decisions throughout your life.

Develop a leadership mission statement. Imagine you are somehow able to listen in at your funeral. What will everyone say about you? What would you like to be said about you? Now that you have taken the time to identify some specific goals and some core values, the next step is to write out a mission statement. Think of the mission statement as a kind of personal constitution.

Just as the US government uses the US Constitution as a guide toward decision making, this mission statement can help to serve as your guide. This can be your own personal mission statement, but it is also helpful to work out a mission statement with your team.

However, the most important step in making these mission statements is that you have identified what you truly value and understand why you have set the goals that you have set, both for your team and for yourself. Keep in mind that the activities in this module are first steps, and a mission statement that is of any true worth takes more than just a week to put together.

So use these worksheets as beginning points in developing your goals, your values, and ultimately your mission and purpose, both professionally and personally.

Prof. Akindotun Merino is the CEO of Jars Education Group; a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California.
Share your successes and challenges:
drmerino@jarseducation.com
Text: 0705 629 0985
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

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Mental Health

Constructive Criticism 1 (8)

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Constructive Criticism 1 (8)

By Akindotun Merino
Understanding what motivates the people you are leading is a great way to better assist them, but you also have other pressures upon you as a leader, which can include your ultimate goal for your company as well as pressure from higher ups in your own hierarchy. What’s more, even when you are an understanding and compassionate leader, some may seek to test this. The difference between an understanding but effective leader versus a weak leader is a how well you respond when people attempt either consciously or unintentionally to cross boundaries. When someone engages in behavior that’s detrimental to your overall leadership vision, you occasionally have to intervene. What’s important in this case is that you intervene in an effective way that makes the situation better for everyone involved.

When you have to criticize or correct an employee, one of the most important things to consider are your own motivations. While it may be tempting to want to punish an employee who “acts up,” this can frequently create a poisonous environment where the employee misses the message of improvement and only hears a message that involves asserting your superior position over that employee. This can recreate a sense of a parent –child relationship which runs counter to seeing the other person involved as a person and an equal who deserves respect. Punishment often has unintended consequences, as well. If you look at the number of criminals who leave prison only to return again after a time, it becomes evident that punishment can harden someone into repeating behaviors as much as it can deter that person from those behaviors. Sometimes it is helpful to retreat from a potentially volatile interaction rather than addressing a person when you are angry. You can use email to schedule a time to address an issue, for example, which has the additional purpose of allowing you to restore your own emotional balance. Ultimately, you’re in conflict with an employee because he or she has crossed a boundary, whether it’s a social boundary or one related to your expectations for work. The more productive and effective approach is to find a way to correct the behavior rather than finding a way to punish the employee.

READ ALSO: Understanding Motivation (7)

One way to approach an intervention where you need to let an employee know about an area of improvement or an intolerable behavior that needs to be corrected is to try to envision the situation playing out in such a way that there are no losers. Instead, you want to consider a way in which everyone has an opportunity to come out a winner. For an employee who has trouble with being at work on time or at all, this might be a powerful move that allows that employee to take greater responsibility in her or his life, an improvement that can carry over into the long term, for example. When you develop a positive vision of what a successful correction looks like, you are better able to stay out of the punishment or blaming mentality that so often sabotages good intentions and well-meaning criticism.

Experiencing criticism can be a stressful situation, and the common approach towards hearing criticism is to prepare a defense. One way to soften another person’s experience of your criticism is to use the idea of a feedback sandwich. Instead of telling people what they are doing wrong all at once, you can mix the negative with genuine positive comments as well. It’s important that these are genuine, however, or you can come across as insincere and manipulative and lose any goodwill or trust you might have earned with your employees. Finding a positive thing to say about an employee who needs correction serves an additional purpose as well. Whenever you are angry at another person, a good tactic to help spur your thinking away from that person’s faults is to consider something positive about that person. Having something good to say about your employee can help to put the entire situation into a more manageable perspective.

When you set goals, it’s important that you set a goal that is achievable and corresponds to a time frame. Similarly, when you intervene with an employee about an area that needs improvement, it is helpful to have a definite view of success, as well as a time frame for when you can check back with the employee. This follow-up will work better when it is approached as a “how are you doing with this?” rather than a “have you done what I told you to?” style conversation. Furthermore, you should consider avoiding two types of extremes: not following up at all and overdoing your follow-up by continuously returning to the issue. When you initially discuss the issue with your employee, it will be most effective if you both identify a time in the future to schedule a follow-up conversation where you can check in with each other. If you never follow up it erodes your credibility when you do offer constructive criticism because it makes it seem as if there was no real need for criticism. On the other hand, if you continuously come back to the situation that prompted the criticism, you put the employee into a guilt-redemption type drama. If you follow up with your employee at a scheduled time, and that employee has not shown improvement, you can re-assess what needs to be done further, and use that time to schedule another follow-up. Keeping your follow-ups structured can help you avoid the pitfalls that can turn following up and being invested in your employee’s success into a form of harassing your employee.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Understanding Motivation (7)

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Constructive Criticism 1 (8)

By Akindotun Merino
According to Burke, on some level most people in our society and culture are motivated by guilt. He uses this term loosely to include emotions such as shame, disgust, anxiety, and embarrassment. From this viewpoint, people act to try to avoid guilt emotions or to find redemption, which is what makes those feelings go away. It is this attempt to move from guilt to redemption that puts an individual’s “drama” in dramatism. There are a few factors that contribute in a large way to people’s feelings of guilt and inadequacy:

  • The social order or hierarchy. As people interact with each other, we unconsciously and consciously create a sort of pecking order through our language and concepts. This gives individuals a sense of relation to others in terms of being perceived as equals or as superior or inferior to another person or group of people.
  • The Negative, in this sense, is an act of rejecting your place in this perceived social order. Burke used the term “rotten with perfection” to describe the situation where people realize that their place in a social hierarchy is to some degree arbitrary. Those who inhabit a superior position may feel guilt or anxiety because our language includes a notion of perfection that is impossible to achieve in actuality. For example, someone who is known for being particularly generous might experience shame or guilt for wanting to put himself or herself first on occasion. The idea of perfect generosity is unattainable, so the person feels guilty, pushing them to seek redemption. Conversely, someone in an inferior social position might realize that he or she is not as lowly as circumstances bear out and this becomes motivation towards redemption.
  • Victimage is another factor in this drama where the guilty person lays the blame for her or his circumstances on an external source, another person or societal condition. There are two types of victimage: universal, which blames everyone and everything, and fractional, where a person blames a specific group or individual. In vilifying the other person, the guilty person can assume a heroic role in their drama.
  • Redemption is the final stage of this type of drama where the person purges guilt through a kind of death, either symbolic, as in a transformation in character or a confession of one’s sins or misdeeds, or in actuality by truly dying. It is uncommon and disrespectful, for example, to speak ill of the dead. Burke considered the redemption stage a transformation where one transcends the old order of social hierarchies and a new order is created. You can look at Burke’s transition from Guilt to Redemption as following two paths: the first begins with the status quo followed by guilt or anxiety about one’s place in that status quo, followed by identifying a scapegoat, followed by confession and repentance which lead to the transformation of the old order into a new order.

 READ ALSO: Understanding Motivation (7)

This description of the move from guilt to redemption can be helpful in understanding how people come to actively dislike others. Often at the root of ill-will is a feeling of inadequacy and guilt in an individual.

Another aspect of Burke’s theory of dramatism is called identification. If you have ever heard someone say (or have said yourself), “I can really identify with that person,” you’re getting at the heart of what Burke means by identification. In some ways it is the opposite of victimage. When you identify with someone else, you are able to feel empathy and compassion for them. In identification, something of you rubs off on the other person with whom you identify, and something of that person rubs off on you. In leadership, you can create an “unconscious willingness to be led” in another person by identifying with that person and trying to meet the other person’s needs. When you go out of your way to allow an employee off for a vacation he or she Is excited about, you create in that person a willingness to follow you and make your goals their goals.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Understanding Motivation (6)

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Constructive Criticism 1 (8)

By Akindotun Merino
You can’t always get into the head of another person. Even if this were possible, understanding what motivates another person can be so complex that even that person is unaware of her or his motivations. However, to a certain degree, the essence of leadership is getting others to do what you need them to do, as if it were their original motives themselves. While you may not be able to specifically identify another person’s motives, there is a good rule of thumb that was developed by Kenneth Burke called dramatism.

Dramatisim. The great Canadian rock band Rush once sang, “All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players.” To be fair, they borrowed this notion from William Shakespeare who noted that each person is like the star actor in his or her own play. Kenneth Burke developed his theory of dramatism based on this notion. If you understand that people see themselves as the star of their own drama, this can be the first step towards making a good guess as to what motivates them. If you can at the very least think in terms of how other people are motivated, you are better able to develop compassion for them. With compassion, you are better able to understand another person’s needs and how to meet those needs while motivating the person to help meet yours or your company’s needs.

READ ALSO: Leadership By Design (4)

The Pentad. The key aspect of Burke’s dramatism is referred to as the pentad, but if you have ever taken a class in journalism, you may recognize the pentad in another form, the five W’s. The pentad and the five W’s are similar and both allow you to think about who is doing what to whom, and how and why they are doing it. Here is the Pentad and how it relates to the Five W’s.

Scene. The scene of something is the same thing as the Where and the When of the five W’s. This doesn’t merely refer to the physical place where something may be occurring, but to the overall environment as well. When and where something occurs may explain exactly why the situation is playing out the way it is.

Agent. This refers to the actor or actors in a given situation. This also corresponds to the Who in the five W’s. When you look for motives behind people’s behaviors, who they are can be one source of motives, but their environment and the other factors of the pentad could also be sources for motives. For example, someone who comes to work not dressed properly may be simply rebelling against work policies. In this case, the motive is more about this particular person. Another possible motive however is that this person has been out of work so long that she or he does not have the nice clothes needed to meet the office policy. In this case, the motive is not really about the person or agent but more about the scene or situation, this person having been out of work so long to not have the appropriate clothes.

Act. The act is similar to the What in the five W’s. It is the action that is taking place in a given situation. If you assigned some work to an employee who didn’t finish the work in the time you expected, you could look at motivation in terms of the agent, in this case the employee needs more training or maybe doesn’t work as hard as you would expect. However, another possible “motive” lies in the action itself. Perhaps the task you assigned is a complicated enough task that cannot be accomplished in the time you expect, or this can at least be a major factor.

READ ALSO: Leadership By Design (5)

Agency. The agency aspect of the Pentad does not strictly conform to the Five W’s, however, if you add the question of How, this gets to what agency is referring to. In the previous example, the nature of the work that you assigned to the employee might be difficult, and you may already realize that the employee is a diligent worker who tends to perform well. However, if the employee picked an inefficient way to go about working on the assignment, this could explain why it didn’t meet up with your expectations. This would place the “motive” under agency where the problem is not the act itself, nor the agent or scene, but instead the problem is in how the agent is going about doing the act.

Purpose. The purpose part of the pentad corresponds to the Why of the five W’s. Imagine that in our previous example you gave an assignment to an employee who didn’t complete the assignment in what you considered was a reasonable amount of time. If you have looked at all the other aspects of the pentad to get an idea of why this is so, analyzing the purpose may help. Perhaps your employee didn’t understand why this task was necessary or what it was trying to accomplish.

As you can see, when you use the pentad to analyze situations, it allows you to think about all the different aspects of a situation. An effective leader won’t simply blame the employee for not living up to an expectation. Instead, leaders who are effective can analyze the different aspects of a situation in terms of the pentad to understand the situation better. It may turn out that the employee was perfectly justified in not living up to an expectation, and you have saved both the employee and yourself the hard feelings created from a misplaced lecture.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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