Self Leadership : Few People Manage their lives and Careers well
The Failure Rate of Executives points in the same direction: Each executive is picked for proven competence and has been highly successful in previous jobs. This suggests that either their jobs have become undoable (systems failure) or they have lost the ability to self manage.
All of us, even those of us with modest talents, must learn to manage ourselves, develop ourselves, and place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution. Great achievers always manage themselves. But they are rare exceptions, so unusual both in their talents and accomplishments as to be considered extraordinary.
Now we all must stay mentally alert and engaged during a long working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do.
I invite you to ask seven questions :
1.What are my Strengths?
Most people think they know their strengths. They are usually wrong. Often people know what they are not good at. Yet, a person can perform only from strength. You can’t build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something you can’t do. You need to know your strengths to know where you belong. It is also essential to remedy your bad habits- things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance. Comparing your exceptions with your results indicates what not to do.
In areas where you have no talent or skill, you should not take on work, jobs, and assignments. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.
2.How do I best perform ?
Few people know how they get things done. Indeed, most of us do not even know that different people work and perform differently. Too many people work in ways that are not their ways- and that almost guarantees nonperformance. For Knowledge workers, How do I Perform ? May be a more important question that What are my Strengths ?
3.What are My Values ?
This is not a question of ethics. With respect to ethics, the rules are the same
for everybody, and the test is simply to ask yourself, “What kind of person
do I want to see in the mirror ? “ But ethics are only part of a value system.
To work where the value system is unacceptable or incompatible with your own condemns you both to frustration and nonperformance. To be effective, your values must be compatible with the organization’s values. Your strengths and the way that you perform rarely conflict; however, there may be a conflict between your values and your strengths. What you do well may not fit with your value system. In that case, the work may not appear to be worth devoting your life to. Values should be the ultimate test.
4.Where Do I Belong ?
Some people know early where they belong, but most people do not know where they belong until they are well past their mid-twenties. By that time, however, they should know the answers to the three questions: What are my
Strengths? How do I perform ? what are my values? And then they should decide where they belong. If you have learned that you don’t perform well in a big organization, you should not work in one. Knowing where you belong enables you to say to an offer or assignment, “ Yes, I will do that.” Knowing where you belong transforms you into an out-standing performer.
5.What should I Contribute?
Today you may have to ask, what should my contribution be? To answer this question, you must address three elements: What does the situation require ?
Given my strengths, performance style, and values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done? What results have to be achieved to make a difference? Since it is rarely fruitful to look too far ahead, ask, ”How can I achieve results that will make a difference within 18 months?” The results should be hard to achieve- they should require ”stretching”, but be within reach. The results should be meaningful, visible, and measurable. From this will come a course of action: what to do, where and how to start, and what goals and deadlines to set.
6.Am I responsible for relationships ?
Managing yourself requires taking responsibility for relationships. This has two parts. First, you have to know the strengths, performance modes, and values of your co-workers and boss. Second, you need to communicate effectively. Most conflicts arise from not knowing what other people are doing and how they are making, and what results they expect. They have never asked or been told.
7.What will I do next ?
Today managing yourself often leads to a second career. You may start one in a different line of work, or develop a parallel career on the side. Few people manage the second half of their lives well. Most just “retire early on the job.” But men and women who see a long working-life expectancy as an opportunity both for themselves and for society will become leaders. Since you can expect to experience setbacks, having a second interest is vital.
Managing yourself well, demands that you think and behave like a CEO.