In this fortnightly series, Alison Glynn-Baker discusses some key concepts in Mandy Holloway’s book, ‘Inspiring Courageous Leaders’. She also poses some provocative questions. We invite you to provide your opinion and join the discussion.
(Self-)knowledge is power. Is it really?
In Chapter 6, Mandy writes that understanding yourself is critical to being able to lead with conviction. The Courageous Leaders leadership development program uses a number of tools to help leaders understand their behavior, values and personality preferences. In Chapter 6, Mandy describes how you can draw on some of these tools to complete your own self-mastery audit.
The case for a self-mastery audit
Many of us started our careers by focusing on what we were good at or promised to pay well. This is either paying off or it’s not. Where it’s not paying off, we are over-worked, exhausted, subject to office tensions, and somehow dissatisfied. Where it is paying off, we may be at a point in our careers where we start to be challenged by:
• ‘people’ issues
• more complex decisions in a more complex role
• issues which call for more than technical capability
• being good at what we do but not energized by it.
Where do you go for the answers? How do you find your passion?
By understanding yourself better, you can find these answers more easily and act on what you believe in. Mandy talks about finding your sweet spot – that ideal blend of intellectual and emotional capability, personality preferences and characters. Doing the kind of work where you bring your whole self to work. We start to perform and lead more consciously, instead of relying on how we’ve always worked and hoping for the best.
A self-mastery audit. Buyer, beware!
This is all very well, but how profiling is presented, debriefed and managed in an organization is critical. Here are some examples of how not to do it:
1) Group therapy:
On one four-day residential program, a client relates how he had to stand up and share his Leadership Styles Inventory profile with a group of virtual strangers. He also had to talk about his childhood, his weaknesses and what he planned to do with all this information. In the months and years afterwards, many of the participants of this program would walk past each other in the foyer without so much as an acknowledgement. It was as if they were all survivors of some secret, shameful trauma. Or like people who had been on an unsuccessful blind date and wished it had never happened.
2) Tick the box, flick the report and hope for the best:
An associate started a short-term contract recently and was put through a personality profiling tool “because everyone else in the team has done it”. By way of debrief, her boss shared his own profile report by email. On the phone, he joked about disabling her security pass if he saw anything he didn’t like in her profile. There wasn’t any discussion about the why, what or what next. The team manager said he wasn’t impressed with the tool – as if the mere process of putting the team through the exercise should overnight have transformed team dynamics and performance.
3) The horoscope:
I have also seen people use their own profiles as a sort of horoscope: “Oh well, I’m a classic ENFJ so obviously this kind of situation doesn’t suit me at all.” And I have seen leaders and managers automatically assume how people in their teams are going to behave.
Human beings are complex. We can begin to understand facets of ourselves through various lenses including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and LSI. But, given that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, I think that leaders and their teams should be allowed to choose how much of themselves they share.
If you’re going to do a self-mastery audit, who is supporting you through that process, at work or outside work? If you have the benefit of an organization like Courageous Leaders to take you through a leadership development program, how will you and the other leaders handle this self-knowledge and knowledge of each other?
Do you think some self-knowledge in the workplace is a good thing or do you think it just leads to tears? This is your chance to have your say.
Don't have a copy of Inspiring Courageous Leaders? Buy it now
About Alison Glynn-Baker: Alison Glynn-Baker has 15 years’ experience in professional services marketing, business development and operations. Through her own consultancy, she has combined her two passions - training and writing – to help clients improve performance both personally and in business.