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Superpowers for leaders

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Too often in the business world, we neglect consideration of psychology, emotion, and what is going on inour heads. We do whatever we can to maintain the pretense that we are emotionless bots, and“professionals” who aren’t rattled. The problem is, we are not emotionless. We are easily rattled. We wastea lot of time waging internal battles over who did what or who said what, who is to blame, which problemsmight occur, why things went wrong or may go wrong, or imagined slights and drama between us andothers

Too often in the business world, we neglect consideration of psychology, emotion, and what is going on inour heads. We do whatever we can to maintain the pretense that we are emotionless bots, and“professionals” who aren’t rattled. The problem is, we are not emotionless. We are easily rattled. We wastea lot of time waging internal battles over who did what or who said what, who is to blame, which problemsmight occur, why things went wrong or may go wrong, or imagined slights and drama between us andothers

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Superpowers for leaders

  1. 1. https://www.td.org/insights/superpowers-for-leaders Page 1 of 3 Apr 08, 2018 10:44:20PM MDT Too often in the business world, we neglect consideration of psychology, emotion, and what is going on in our heads. We do whatever we can to maintain the pretense that we are emotionless bots, and “professionals” who aren’t rattled. The problem is, we are not emotionless. We are easily rattled. We waste a lot of time waging internal battles over who did what or who said what, who is to blame, which problems might occur, why things went wrong or may go wrong, or imagined slights and drama between us and others. These battles are incredibly distracting and counterproductive; and even though many of us are aware that they originate in our own minds, they still seem incredibly real. We may even act on these thoughts, opinions, impressions, and fears—setting us up for the possibility of making real mistakes based on imagined situations. Although we do not wear capes, we all have access to two business superpowers to counter these destructive tendencies: self-awareness and managing our own inner narrative. In a Harvard Business , self-awareness is defined as “the skill of being aware of our thoughts, emotions, and valuesarticleReview from moment to moment.” Self-awareness is one of the core skills is necessary forDaniel Goleman says emotional intelligence (EI), that seemingly intangible type of intelligence that is so crucial to success in the modern workplace. Self-regulation, another core skill of emotional intelligence, relates to managing our internal states, impulses, and resources—what I commonly describe as managing our inner narrative. This includes keeping disruptive feelings and desires in check, being adaptable and flexible, taking initiative, and maintaining integrity. When I tell people that emotional intelligence is one of the core skills that I coach individuals on, sometimes I sense a slight turn in the conversation, reflecting either a lack of understanding of emotional intelligence or a disbelief that the components of EI are essential leadership skills. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Self-awareness and the capability to master our inner narrative form a dynamic duo skillset to reach and maintain success at the top of any profession. Don’t believe me? Look at Ben Horowitz, general partner and co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, a $2.7 billion under management. In 2011, Ben shared a inventure capital firm with blog post in Techcrunch which he describes managing his own psychology as the “most personal and important battle that any CEO will face.” Being a CEO or a leader in any environment is difficult. Success is elusive for many leaders, particularly in the C-suite, and often nobody bothers to let you know what you are up against. As a result, you end up grading yourself quite poorly by comparison. It’s lonely at the top, and leaders may not have a lot of people to confide in. In this type of challenging environment, you may either take things too personally (and overcorrect) or not take them personally enough (rationalizing and failing to fix things until it is too late). Both mistakes originate from a lack of self-awareness. They are a function of what we tell ourselves about what is happening around us. They both have the potential for horribly negative consequences, including personal health crises, micromanaging teams into oblivion, wholesale loss of talented team members, and, quite possibly, the eventual dissolution of an entire company. While the consequences are especially dire for leaders in the C-suite, you don’t have to be at the top to be negatively affected by poor self-awareness and an out-of-control inner narrative. The truth is that a leader on any level has great capacity for destruction if they are not aware, attuned to, and capable of managing an internal narrative run amok. This is fueled by the now-accepted adage that people don’t leave bad jobs, .they leave bad managers What to Do About It
  2. 2. https://www.td.org/insights/superpowers-for-leaders Page 2 of 3 Apr 08, 2018 10:44:20PM MDT Annemarie Spadafore Don’t Ruminate; Get Outside of Your Head! You may keep running the problem scenario through your head over and over again. Someone’s doomsday predictions may seem imminent. They might even be yours! Or you may convince yourself that everything is fine, that you have no improvements to make. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. The thing is, you aren’t going to discover this truth inside your own head. You are not omniscient; therefore, you are missing at least some of the crucial information about the situation. Accept this. As much as possible, try to obtain an accurate picture of what you are dealing with. Don’t underestimate the crucial power of neutral outsiders (particularly coaches!). Use these resources to gain some useful perspective on your situation and get outside of your own head, because you aren’t going to find the solution or make an accurate prediction of the future while you are stuck in there! Reach Out to Mentors While you may not always be able to find others who have been through your exact situation, it is essential that you reach out to mentors who may be helpful. Try to find people who have gone through the same or similar challenges. Find someone willing to share their mistakes and challenges; you will gain quite a lot of perspective (and put yourself on a great path toward internal mastery) by understanding that you are not alone in facing difficulties. Write Things Down I’m constantly telling clients to write things down, and not just because I’m convinced of the amazing catharsis resulting from putting your thoughts—even your unproductive ones—down on paper. The fact is that writing things down enables you to gain clarity over your own thinking. Organizing your thoughts on paper enables you to see patterns and gain some awareness and mastery over your thoughts and behaviors. Writing things down may even reveal a previously unseen solution to your problem or illuminate a way forward that you hadn’t considered. Question Your Assumptions Have you ever described a situation or retold a story, only to have someone else describe the exact same scenario in an astonishingly different way? We’ve all had this happen to us, and it is disorienting. The confusion between our perspective and those of others originates from our own brains. The good news is we have control over our brains! Start by accepting the fact that you may not see things as clearly as you think you do, and the conclusions you draw about situations are absolutely not universal. Challenge yourself to be aware of these assumptions and question them regularly. Once more, a coach or other neutral party may be essential in helping you better understand how your perspective may be incomplete or otherwise inaccurate, and what you can do about it. Bottom LineYour capability to master your internal narrative will have a powerful effect on your career success and your impact on others, your own well-being, and the longevity of your organization. Every leader struggles with these crucial facets of emotional intelligence. This struggle does not define your capabilities as a leader. However, the effort you put toward self-awareness and self-mastery may someday grant you real business superpowers. Annemarie Spadafore Annemarie Spadafore is an ICF-certified executive coach, facilitator, and business consultant who specializes in illuminating individual and team blind spots and collaborating with clients to co-design futures where they will thrive. She follows a sports-coaching model that incorporates baseline assessments and the co-creation of specific and measurable goals that produce business results. She serves as an empathetic accountability partner, ensuring clients perceive themselves and their options accurately and firmly supporting them as they move forward towards their goals. Learn more at
  3. 3. https://www.td.org/insights/superpowers-for-leaders Page 3 of 3 Apr 08, 2018 10:44:20PM MDT options accurately and firmly supporting them as they move forward towards their goals. Learn more at .www.coachmespark.com

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