Even though we’re all unique, we often find ourselves imitating others or trying to be someone we’re not.
The idea of being our true selves is of greater importance if we’re in any type of leadership role because our words, behaviours and actions will influence and impact others, either in a positive or negative way.
While it’s valuable to learn from others so that we can improve our leadership abilities, what will help make us stand out from other leaders, is our ability to be unique.
It’s important to remember that we should never pretend to be someone we’re not, but we can adopt qualities, traits or behaviours from leaders we admire and incorporate them into our leadership style, while staying true to who we are.
A number of years ago, I did some training work for a company, where I was part of a team of training consultants focused on introducing a new way of training employees. While the training methodology had been around for many years, it was a very new concept in the company.
The words we use has a huge impact on how we feel and what we experience on a daily basis.
If we use more positive words, whether it’s in written form or spoken, we’ll tend to be more optimistic, cheerful and confident. On the other hand, if we use more negative words, we’ll tend to be more pessimistic, focused on what’s going wrong and not be as self-assured or self-confident as we’d like to be.
As a result of our early programming and the external environments we’re exposed to, most people know and use more negative words instead of positive words.
It’s a matter of perspective whether using positive words is better than using negative words and the context in which they’re used, however it’s useful to know the effect the words we use are having on us and those we interact with.
Certain words we use on a regular basis may be causing us to have low confidence, therefore it’s extremely valuable to know what they are so we can consciously choose to use more empowering words.
Many years ago in my manufacturing career, I had just started a new role as a site manager for a company. During the first two months, I was trying to find my feet and better understand the way things operated.
The ability to persuade or influence others is a valuable skill to have.
We’re constantly being persuaded in our daily lives through advertising messages, conversations we have or things we’re required to get done. The more persuasive we are, the quicker and easier we can accomplish what we want.
What does it mean to be a persuasive person?
Being a persuasive person means being able to positively affect the thoughts, emotions and actions of another person to accomplish a desired outcome, that’s beneficial to both.
A persuasive person is able to build a picture of a better result or future in the mind’s eye of another person and cause that person to willingly take action to make that result or future a reality.
Some of the characteristics of persuasive people include:
- They’re goal-oriented.
- They’re future or possibility thinkers.
- They tend to show leadership qualities.
- They focused and effective.
- They like getting things done.
The more persuasive we become, the better results we’ll achieve for ourselves and others.
We experience competition in our daily interactions. Being competitive has both benefits and disadvantages.
On the negative side, being competitive can be viewed as being self-centred, aggressive, inflexible and self-absorbed. Those who are competitive because they have to win at all costs often create more stress for themselves and those they interact with.
The origin of the word competition means “to enter or be put in rivalry with.” Competition is part of our lives from sports competition to educational and career competition.
Like most things in life, we can use being competitive to our advantage. We can harness it in a way that will assist us making faster progress towards the outcomes we want.
When I was in my early twenties as a university student, I was extremely competitive at sports. I hated losing and oftentimes, if I believed I could not win at a sport, I would not even participate. To me, winning was the reason why I played sport competitively.
Looking back, that was a very limited way of thinking and wasn’t healthy.
We all go through difficult times in life and how we deal with them often defines who we are and who we become.
The better we can handle tough times, the better our chances of not letting those experiences slow us down or stop us from making progress towards what we want. As the saying goes, “Tough people are built for tough times.”
The challenge we face is that if we don’t handle the difficult times in our lives well, it can:
- Create unnecessary mental anguish.
- Cause us to have mental or emotional breakdowns.
- Place additional strain on our relationships.
- Cause us physical pain or trigger other symptoms in our bodies.
- Lower our motivation to do the things we want to.
Having reminders whenever we go through a difficult time will help us cope better and also overcome it easier and faster.
Our ability to influence people determines how much of an impact we can make.
If we want to make a bigger impact in the world, we have to become better at influencing other people. The dictionary defines influence as “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviour and opinions of others.”
Influencing someone can often be mistaken as trying to manipulate a person but there is a significant difference. Manipulation is getting someone to do something in an unfair or forceful manner, whereas influence is getting someone to buy into something that can be a benefit to everyone involved.
When done correctly, a person who has been influenced to take a particular action, should feel they’re taking that action because they want to, and not because they were forced or manipulated into doing it.
Some of the benefits of becoming a more influential person includes:
- Expanding other people’s vision of what’s possible.
- Leveraging resources, knowledge and skills to reach outcomes quicker.
- Guiding others to look at things from different perspectives.
- Becoming a more confident and powerful person.
- Assisting others to achieve what they want in life.
Having strong influence skills can make a huge difference in our lives. On the other hand, if we make common influence mistakes, it’ll be challenging to achieve what we want, which will also affect others getting what they want.
We’re always receiving feedback in the form of our results. Whenever we’re not creating the results we want, we know we have to do things differently.
Similarly, we can learn to give feedback to others if they’re not making progress or meeting deadlines. Being able to provide feedback without destroying a person’s self-confidence is really valuable, especially if we’re in any type of leadership or managerial role.
I remember when I had a corporate career, performance management sessions was something I dreaded, both as a receiver and as the giver of feedback. There was always a level of discomfort going through the process because as human beings, being challenged or questioned by another person can be uncomfortable.
The good news was I always survived those sessions and they always helped me improve and I was also able to help my team members improve.
We tend to prefer positive feedback. Receiving negative feedback can be awkward at times.
How Most People Deal With Negative Feedback
- They either reject or ignore the feedback.
- They may get angry at the person providing the feedback.
- They may feel discouraged by the feedback and choose not to improve.
The whole purpose of giving or receiving feedback is to improve and continually move forward towards agreed objectives. In order to prevent someone from feeling discouraged as a result of negative feedback, there are specific things we can do.
Failure is a powerful word. It’s hard not to be triggered in some way when we hear it being mentioned.
What is it about the word failure that makes it so powerful?
Some of the reasons may include:
- Success is much better than failure.
- Failure implies we didn’t achieve something we wanted.
- Failure has a stigma or negative connotation to it.
- Failure implies we weren’t good enough in some way.
- Failure can be mentally, emotionally and physically damaging to us.
We’ve all experienced some type of failure in life. What if we can reframe failure to our advantage?
I’m reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
My belief is everything is a learning experience and we only fail when we quit on something that’s still meaningful or important to us.
As human beings, we love to feel comfortable. Whenever we experience something that’s uncomfortable, it can generate a range of unpleasant emotions.
To even suggest that being uncomfortable can be a good thing may bring up a lot of resistance. We feel better when we’re comfortable. We all have a natural state or a comfort zone, in which we know we can cope with the demands of our lives.
The truth is resistance is what makes us stronger. If we reflect back on our life experiences, we learned more from our struggles rather than from our successes.
We strengthen a physical muscle by putting it under stress, which will allow it to increase how much resistance it can handle. Similarly, our capacity to cope with more things in our lives is developed by putting ourselves in situations which will cause us to grow stronger.
Things to Be Aware of About Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
- It’s not something that will get easier quickly. It will take time therefore, consistent action is the key to maintaining progress.
- Fear and doubt will always be present. It’s up to us to acknowledge what we’re feeling and continue taking action to move past our fears or doubts.
- Having someone like a mentor or a coach can be helpful if we’re trying to raise our comfort zone.
The good news is that even though we may feel uncomfortable when doing something that’s challenging us, we will always learn valuable lessons.
Whenever we’re in a situation that is unpleasant due to someone being difficult or uncooperative, it can trigger a number of emotions.
These emotions can include anger, resentment, discomfort, fear, embarrassment or disappointment.
While it can be easy to let others affect our emotional state, if we have adequate tools to deal with difficult people or situations, we’ll have a much better chance of managing our emotions appropriately.
Since we interact with people all the time, knowing what to do or what to say whenever we’re dealing with someone difficult, will allow us to focus on what we need to do without getting caught up in the other person’s drama.
In my previous manufacturing career, the company I worked for had a sales manager who would get angry whenever there were delays with customer orders. It didn’t matter if there were valid reasons for delays such unexpected machinery breakdown, or if there were traffic delays on the road while delivering products to customers.
This sales manager had a reputation of being difficult to reason with and he wasn’t the most approachable person in the company.
On one occasion, there was a delay with delivery to a major customer and resulted in the customer giving him a call to find out why their delivery was delayed. The sales manager called the delivery manager at the time to find out what was going on.