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Coaching Yourself to Leadership: Five Key Strategies for Becoming an Integrated Leader

Book Description

What would happen if a respected business coach gave you a new model for leadership that could help you achieve the happiness, productivity and fulfillment at work you so desire? It would change your life. That's exactly what author Ginny O'Brien has done. She's a certified business coach who draws on an approach she's used successfully for years in her practice to develop effective leaders. It integrates competencies from three domains of leadership—self, work and others—and emphasizes both masculine and feminine elements of strength. O'Brien's themes—be authentic, visionary, emotionally intelligent, an assertive communicator and connected to others through relationships and alliances—are covered in-depth in separate chapters. Exercises, tools and specific guidance are also provided to help you turn the information presented into everyday practices. The purpose of the book is not to help you become the next Jack Welch—being a great leader doesn't mean you have to get to the top. Rather, it is to provide you with practices and techniques that will transform you into a more positive, authentic leader who can make work better for yourself and those you currently lead.

Table of Contents

  1. Title
  2. Copyright
  3. Dedication
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Introduction
  7. Chapter One
    1. Who Are You?Reflecting on who you are and what you care about, and identifying and honoring your core values are the first steps to take in coaching yourself to become an integrated leader. It’s essential to do your inner work and unlock the constraints that keep you from knowing and honoring your deeper self. Acting on core values is particularly important during times of chaos and uncertainty, when the only thing you can be certain about is who you are. If you are not certain about yourself, you will transmit this sense of confusion and doubt to others, negatively impacting not only your ability to influence and guide others, but also your ability to make good choices.
    2. Reflecting Your Way to AuthenticityIn today’s hectic world, our lives swirl around us, leaving us with the perception that we have no time to attend to our own needs. But you can begin changing your perceptions if you allow yourself some amount of time each day, even if it’s only for five minutes, to sit alone and reflect on what’s happening. Self-awareness develops through selfobservation. By tuning into your emotions and behaviors and noticing the way you are feeling and acting, you can begin to uncover the real you.
    3. My ValuesLet me share my own core values to demonstrate what I mean. One of my core values is to be acknowledged and respected for my intelligence. Another is to have my voice heard. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I find writing and speaking rewarding. Writing books gives me a way to gain broader recognition for my intellectual abilities, and both speaking and writing provide me with a way to have my voice heard, to tell my story, and to present my version of how I see the world to a larger audience. These values are driven in part by psychology—by the family system in which I was raised and by my own personality structure created by the interplay of nature and nurture during the developmental phases of my life.
    4. Identifying Values:Getting to the Core You
    5. Beliefs Can Make or Break You
    6. Affirmations Create Possibilities
    7. Negative Beliefs Rob You of Power
    8. Unraveling Your Behavior Patterns: The Story of Brian
    9. The Dilemma of Defensive Behaviors
    10. Feeling Small
    11. Authenticity Summary Steps
  8. Chapter Two
    1. Dream Big Passionate DreamsThe first rule of thumb is to think BIG. To vision is to think about making the impossible possible. History is replete with leaders who brought us to new heights because of their ability to see what others couldn’t see. If you limit your vision only to goals that are within easy reach, you won’t stretch yourself enough.
    2. Understand Your Vision and Life PurposeWhen I first start working with clients, I ask them to design a vision by imagining that they are at the end of their lives and are looking back over their accomplishments. This exercise is designed to help them get in touch with their life purpose and their individual uniqueness.
    3. Vision and Gender
    4. Turning My Vision into Reality
    5. Assessing Your Skills:How Integrated Are You?
    6. Easy Assessments You Can Do Yourself
    7. Getting Feedback from Others
    8. Gap Analysis:Creating Yearly Strategies for Success
    9. Charting Your Goals
    10. Being Comfortable Outside Your Comfort Zone
    11. Managing Your Fear
    12. My Mistakes
    13. Learning to Trust Your Intuition
    14. Transferring Skills:From the Personal to the Professional
    15. Vision and Smarts Summary Steps
  9. Chapter Three
    1. EQ at Work:Maintaining Emotional ControlHave you ever had to work with someone you really couldn’t stand? The very sight of the person gets under your skin. One word out of her mouth and your bells are ringing and you are ready to fight! After encounters with her, you ruminate on all the ways you are going to get back at her for the bad things she has done to you—all the clever jabs that are going to leave her smarting, all the ways you are going to one-up her and show her your power. If this sounds familiar, you are wasting your energy and demonstrating that you need to improve your emotional intelligence.
    2. Vacillating Between ExtremesI’ve noticed that once people’s buttons get pushed, they often respond by vacillating between two extremes. They either retreat, completely walling themselves off in the hope that the situation will somehow correct itself, or they act out aggressively. Either behavior is a set-up for failure.
    3. Understanding Your Emotions: The Story of RoseOne of my clients, whom I’ll call Rose, presents a good illustration of the effort it takes to go below the surface and discover the source of emotional distress. Rose had a wonderful relationship with her old boss. He was a great mentor to her and helped her develop her career. He was always there for her. He understood her personality and he supported her when she made mistakes.
    4. What’s Your EQ?An IQ test rates an individual’s cognitive intelligence quantitatively. It’s a measurement that is universally accepted. There is, however, no universally accepted quantitative test to measure emotional intelligence. There are EQ instruments that attempt to assess emotional intelligence, but there isn’t one universal standard. So, I’ve devised a simple self-assessment that can give you some insights into your emotional intelligence. I recommend taking this quiz to heighten your self-awareness before you read the rest of this chapter.
    5. Develop Trust through Good JudgmentIf you want to be an integrated leader whom people want to follow, you need to build trust. People need to feel confident that you’ll make the right decisions, to feel safe communicating with you, and to trust that you are looking out for their best interests as well as for the interests of the organization. One of the most disheartening situations we can be in is to work for a boss whom we can’t trust to look out for us or to make sound decisions.
    6. Confidence in ConfidentialityA true leader earns the trust of others. Can people come to you with issues and problems and know that you will hold whatever they tell you in confidence? If you are unable to hold a confidence, it is usually a sign that you put your needs above theirs. One of the worst things that can happen to a team is for the leader to be a blabbermouth and the instigator of gossip. Loose lips sink ships. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to know what can be shared, whom it can be shared with, and when to talk about certain issues. If people believe you can’t be trusted to hold their confidences, they will withhold important information about what’s really happening, which can skew your perspective.
    7. Leadership Links with LearningIntegrated leadership develops from learning and from building competencies in each of the domains of self, others, and work. Integrated, emotionally intelligent leaders are open and positive, flexible and adaptable. They allow themselves to be vulnerable: to seek help when they need it and to admit what they don’t know.
    8. EQ Bridges DifferencesIt is only human to like certain people more than others. Generally, the people we like have behavioral styles or interests similar to our own or that mesh with our style in some beneficial way. But it’s important to recognize that a variety of styles are needed at work in order to create a balanced and diversified approach to problems and issues. As a leader, it’s critical for you to be aware of and manage your own prejudices or biases. You don’t have to like everyone equally, but you do have to treat everyone with respect and set standards that apply equally to everyone.
    9. EQ and Relational CompetenceResearchers at the Stone Center at Wellesley College, interested in the psychology of women and the subject of women’s leadership, have been building a body of work known as “relational cultural theory.” Joyce Fletcher, one of the Center’s researchers, describes the basic tenets of this theory in her book Disappearing Acts. She says that growth comes from interactions in which there is “mutual empathy and mutual empowerment.” In order to develop relationally, she believes that people need the strengths of “empathy, vulnerability, the ability to experience and express emotion, the ability to participate in the development of another, and an expectation that relational interactions can yield mutual growth.”
    10. Leadership and Parenting:The Same Skill Set
    11. Integrated Leadership: Accessing Masculine and Feminine Energy
    12. Leadership Styles Determine Organizational Culture
    13. Integrating Styles: The Story of Mike
    14. Dealing with People You Don’t Respect
    15. The Problem with Delegating Perfection
    16. Emotional Intelligence Summary Steps
  10. Chapter Four
    1. Assertive versus AggressiveSome people confuse assertiveness with being confrontational and aggressive. Being a leader in their minds means being tough enough to bark out orders and not back down. This can be confusing to women who are told that they must be aggressive if they want to make it in business. The women who take that advice can get labeled with the “B” word, and end up offending everyone—doing themselves great harm in the process. Sometimes men mistake aggression for assertiveness; confrontational, aggressive behavior to them demonstrates their virility and power. “Aggressive” communication, however, is negative, because it lacks the key element of respect for others. Whether male or female, aggressive people are out to win their points and prove they’re right, regardless of the cost to others.
    2. Passive Communicators: The RetreatersAnother non-assertive style is passive communication. People communicating passively avoid confrontation and conflict at all cost. With passiveness there is a lack of respect of the self: The passive person doesn’t have enough selfconfidence to make his thoughts and feelings known. Passive communicators go along with others and comply with requests, without making requests of their own. Rather than figuring out what other people want or need and how to communicate about those wants and needs, the passive person remains silent and retreats. Extremely passive people aren’t effective leaders, because they never seem to have an opinion or take a stand. They can’t be relied on in a crunch because it’s not evident that they’ll take a risk or have the courage to speak out.
    3. Passive-Aggressive Communicators: The AlienatorsPassive-aggressive communicators also lack assertiveness. Each of us knows at least one person who communicates passive-aggressively, and we all get frustrated dealing with this style of communication. And each of us has at some point probably been guilty of passive-aggressive communication ourselves. When people communicate passive aggressively, there is an appearance of agreement on the surface, but their veiled words contain a hidden agenda—passive-aggressive communicators say one thing, yet mean something else. For one reason or another, the person who communicates passive aggressively finds it either too difficult to communicate directly or is too devious to be open and honest.
    4. Staying Grounded and AssertiveYour psychological perspective and behavioral style can affect the way in which you communicate with others. If you are the type of person who focuses on pleasing others or you have extreme discomfort with disagreement, you might passively retreat or send passive-aggressive mixed messages, without meaning to and without even realizing that you are doing it. If you aren’t feeling grounded (if you don’t feel that you have your emotions under control and can communicate in a rational and calm manner), you might vacillate between aggressiveness, passiveness, and passive aggressiveness, causing fear and confusion. People won’t know what to expect from you and will probably avoid you rather than risk getting attacked or having to spend emotional energy trying to figure out your agenda or what’s going on with you. As a leader, you need people coming to you—not running away from you.
    5. Presence: An Essential Intangible of LeadershipPresence can be hard to describe, but you know when someone has it and when someone doesn’t. In the dictionary, presence is defined as “bearing, personality or appearance that is characterized by poise and confidence.” But it also is defined as having “a supernatural or divine spirit to it.” I think of presence as a combination of an appealing physical appearance, confident body language, assertive communication skills, and positive engaging energy, which actually creates some kind of magnetic field around a person that attracts others. When a person has all these traits, they have an aura of power that translates into the presence of a leader.
    6. Listening Skills for Leaders
    7. My Listening Barriers
    8. Listening: A Key to Influencing
    9. Building Trust Requires Listening
    10. The Art of Asking Powerful Questions
    11. Skillful Conversations:An Optimum Tool for Communicating
    12. Negotiation: Taking Skillful Conversations to the Next Level
    13. Advocating for Yourself
    14. Managing Evaluations
    15. Gender Differences in Communicating
    16. Leadership Requires Setting Expectations and Giving Feedback
    17. Managing “No”
    18. Assertiveness Summary Steps
  11. Chapter Five
    1. Alliance Building: Is There Something to Learn from Reality Shows?I admit I’m a junky when it comes to two reality shows: “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” Although they are heavily edited, they demonstrate the power of alliances and give us a captivating peek at the dynamics of human interaction—the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. On these shows, we see what happens when people try to work together in a competitive environment. As groups move through the competition, there is something new to learn as each team creates its own unique group dynamic based on the different players.
    2. Lessons in Alliance BuildingNow that you understand what alliance building has to do with leadership, start developing alliances by first thinking in win/win terms. Take time to plan and think strategically when developing your network of relationships. You are not being scheming or callous. You are simply assessing your situation and building the kind of mutually beneficial relationships that will help you achieve your goals. Use the exercise on the following page to help identify the people with whom you should build relationships. Remember that relationship building should be reciprocal: both you and the other person should benefit, even in some small way, from the collaboration. Sometimes it is not immediately evident what someone else can gain from being in a relationship with you, particularly if the other person is more powerful or better connected than you are, but every emotionally healthy relationship offers us the opportunity to learn and grow.
    3. Mentors: A Critical Alliance
    4. Mentors Make Things Happen
    5. How I Met My Mentor
    6. Finding and Nurturing Mentoring Relationships
    7. Managing Up: Building a Good Relationship with Your Boss
    8. Dealing with a Difficult Boss
    9. Building Your Team:The Ultimate Test of Leadership
    10. Motivating Your Team
    11. The Story of Cheryl: A Partnership Approach to Team Building
    12. Networking: The Basics
    13. Network with Conscious Intent
    14. Presenting with Presence
    15. The Elevator Speech
    16. Building Relationships: Focus on the Other Person
    17. Strategic Relationships Summary Steps
    18. Conclusion
  12. About the Author