The New Year will require leaders across all sectors and industries to exercise much bolder and audacious leadership than in 2013.
This means leaders will be required to exercise inordinate focus, and display much greater leadership maturity and agility.
How can you accomplish this? No tricks, gimmicks or fads, but pure science!
To prepare for this challenge, I’ll share seven proven ways to re-calibrate your mental software and fitness for the next five years. The key is to generously and fearlessly invest in yourself by applying simply 5% more practice on the following areas.
1. Cultivate your self-confidence, hope, optimism and resilience
This is by far the most important thing you need do. Unless you’re in top shape, you won’t be good to anyone else – you are Numero Uno! Be consistent with this and honour yourself. Do what it takes to be on top, and do it consistently!
Spend time and effort in building greater self-efficacy and self-confidence, hope, optimism and resilience. Together, they constitute your Positive Psychological Capital (PsyCap).
Your PsyCap represents the resources that increase your performance. It’s strongly linked to the display of your individual vigour, dedication and absorption, which emanates from a positive and fulfilling work-related state of mind. And the really good news is that your PsyCap can be learned and improved.
(a) Self-efficacy and self-confidence are strong predictors of performance and relate to attitude and forward-looking expectation of your ability to meet challenges. It’s reflected in a ‘can do’ attitude and belief. Self-efficacy is having self-confidence in your ability to succeed in the face of adversity by overcoming obstacles and challenges. It’s recognisable in leaders who display confidence and conviction, strategies to motivate themselves, and the ability to successfully accomplish specific tasks within given contexts or situations.
(b) Hope is the positive motivational state which involves setting directions (goal power), creating ways to achieve, and will power. It’s about your ability to design goals, generate multiple pathways to achieve these goals, and prepare contingencies to overcome the obstacles that will emerge on the way. It’s also significantly related to performance.
(c) Optimism is a future-oriented perspective that things will work for the best. It lends itself to more persistent and determined efforts in pursuing goals. Optimistic leaders believe that the good/positive things that happen to them are a direct result of their personal intervention, and are permanent and pervasive; while they believe that negative events are due to external and temporary causes, and are situation-specific only.
(d) Resilience is your ability to bounce back from adversity and find solutions in times of crisis. It’s about having the ability to cope with life events – like losing a job or facing changes in family structure – and seeing them as opportunities rather than disasters. Successful leaders bounce back from adversity, conflict and failure, and adapt quickly to change.
Research indicates that the return on investment in training in this set of qualities is very high. This is supported by various studies including a PsyCap training intervention study which demonstrated a 270% return on investment. It’s been estimated that a mere 2% increase in PsyCap is potentially capable of increasing revenues by up to $10 million annually.
2. Focus on making others successful
This involves being generous by practising the paradox that ‘you can only keep what you’ve got by giving it away’! By focusing on making others (e.g. your team members and associates) successful, you’re doing your real job. As Jack Welch would say: you are there for them; not for you!
3. Use a personal coach
Great leaders have a personal coach and embrace coaching-based leadership. They confide in someone who supports and challenge them at the same time. Success is extremely dangerous; it can easily breed arrogance, complacency, false pride and mediocrity. It doesn’t matter how successful you have been, or still are today, it’s important not to rest on your laurels. Being coached provides you the objectivity you need. It’s also how you’ll learn about conducting effective coaching themselves.
4. Focus primarily on feed-forward, as opposed to feedback
FeedForward is a coaching tool popularized by Marshall Goldsmith – one of the world’s leading executive educators and coaches. It’s about gathering feedback from your stakeholders with suggestions for the future (as opposed to referring to past actions), to help you achieve positive change in your behaviour.
5. Practice courage, humility and discipline
These are practices also advocated by Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching (SCC). Courage is about getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that feel uncomfortable (e.g. asking for feed-forward suggestions to others, or raising difficult conversations). Humility involves letting go of your ego and focusing on how to change your own behaviour to make the behaviour of others more effective. Discipline relates to consistently implementing effective behaviours until they become habit.
6. Keep a daily journal of your 3 top achievements and contributions to others
At the end of each day, write down in your journal three positive things you’ve accomplished during that day. What have I done for others? (e.g. my team, associates, collaborators, customers, suppliers – my whole range of stakeholders). What have I done for the most important person in my life? What have I done for myself?
7. Ask yourself the following 6 questions at the of each week
How am doing in relation to what others expect of me as a leader?
Who am I confiding in?
Who is currently supporting and challenging me at the same time?
Who am I currently helping to be successful?
Am I consistently seeking feed-forward from my stakeholders?
Am I responding to the feed-forward I am receiving and monitoring progress?
It is my promise to you, that if you apply the practices above only 5% more of the time, your impact and results as a leader will gain a tenfold return on your investment.
Strategic Leadership Advisor